You just discovered your partner has been upset and stressed out about work and has confided this to his friend, but not to you. Why didn’t he tell you? Why did he go to his friend with this problem? He obviously feels safer discussing major issues with people other than you. The root of the problem is more than likely a communication problem and at the root of communication is listening. Communication is the lifeblood of your relationship. Without it, you have nothing. If your partner feels that he can’t talk to you because you don’t listen, you have some work to do. You need to learn to become a good listener. Just how do you do this?
A good listener is attentive when another person is speaking, making eye contact, making appropriate comments at the right time, not interrupting, and not making insulting or belittling remarks. If you are guilty of these things, you are not a good listener. Don’t worry though, with a few tips you can become a first rate listener that will not only repair your relationship with your partner but will help you in other areas of life as well.
• When your partner is speaking, don’t change the subject. Regardless if you think the issue is important, the conversation is important to your partner – treat it as such. Let him finish his thoughts while you give him your full attention.
• Don’t make assumptions about what your partner is feeling. During pauses, you can ask appropriate questions that will lead to further discussion about his feelings but be sure to clarify and don’t assume you know what he is feeling.
• During an argument, don’t bring up past issues. Fight one fight at a time.
• When your partner makes a suggestion, don’t answer with, “Yes…but” This indicates that you half-heartedly listened but you think you know better.
• When your partner is talking to you, don’t respond with sarcasm or jokes to make light of what he is telling you. The issue he is discussing may not seem that important to you but it is to him.
• Don’t criticize your partner. Your partner needs to know you accept him unconditionally. You are the most important person in his life and if you are overly critical of him, he feels that others will be more so.
• Don’t respond to your partner’s ideas with, “That’s ridiculous!” Be supportive.
• Consider what your partner is saying and try to see it from his point of view – not just yours.
• When your partner is upset with you, listen and see what you need to do to repair the situation. Don’t try to “one up” him with a complaint about him.
Remember, communication is what keeps your relationship together. A key component of communication is being able to listen with your whole heart and truly hear what your partner is trying to tell you. Be attentive and give your partner the time he deserves and watch your relationship reach a new level.
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