Marriage Course - September 1, 2012

Day 15 - Principles for Effective Listening

For some people, learning to listen is as difficult as learning a foreign language, but we must learn in order to build intimacy in our marriage and grow closer to our husband or wife.

1. Pay Attention and Do Not Interrupt. Allow your partner to finish what they are saying. Research indicates that the average individual only listens for 17 seconds before interrupting. Maintain eye contact and do not do something else at the same time.
2. Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Put your own views to one side and really appreciate what it is like for your partner to be feeling the way that they do. Do not rush them and do not be afraid of silences.
3. Acknowledge their feelings. When you have listened to what your partner wants to say, reflect back what you heard without deflection or interpretation. It is important to try and accurately summarize the main facts, reflecting back any feelings they've expressed. This helps your partner to know if you have understood. Reflecting back may feel awkward, but it works!
4. Find out what is most important. Then ask your husband or wife: What is the most important part of what you have been saying?" Wait quietly while your partner thinks about what they want to say. When they have spoken, reflect back again what you have heard.
5. Help them work out what they might do. Now ask: ls there anything you would like (or, if appropriate: like me / like us) to do about what you have said?" Again give your partner time to think quietly. When they have finished, reflect back what your partner has said. enabling them to hear their own decision. The listener then asks, "Is there anything more that you would like to say?" If there is anything more, this should also be reflected back to the speaker.

Question:How do you feel about trying this out? Might it seem awkward? What are the risks, and potential benefits, of trying this new way of listening?

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