I have written “Hear me out! The art of speaking and listening,” because this is the skill that will make a big difference to all your relationships.
How often do you feel deeply heard?
Or heard at all?
Often neither partner in a couple feels properly heard. So an argument is between two people who aren’t listening to each other! Talking more loudly, or shouting even, will not help!
Or perhaps you NEVER tell your partner what you really feel, hope and desire.
So, lets set up an exchange with your partner which creates the maximum possible chance for satisfying connection. On both sides. The speaker gets the time and space to say what they want. And the listener has time and space to let the message sink in, and respond. In communicating with your loved one, in both speaking and listening, you are not taking sides but creating a dialogue. You are creating an exchange. You are creating a relationship. Go to “Tennis anyone: Keeping the communication ball in play.” The dialogue needs input from both of you and is a collaborative interaction. I urge you, watch the video in the tennis Insight!
Language has two sides and you each play your part. On the one hand is what you as the speaker think you are saying, or what you intend to say. And on the other hand is what the other person as the listener thinks you are saying, or thinks you have intended. Already you can see that there are multiple opportunities to miscommunicate.
Focus on the steady flame of reality. Listening and being heard – this constitutes relationship, it is a co-creative act that requires both of you. You become more articulate when you are received open-heartedly. You become more visible when you are listened to, when you know you are heard.
“Unless you hear me, I am invisible”
You listen with more than your ears. You communicate with more than your voice. Awareness is generated by listening and dialogue. Listen with all your senses. When you listen with profound curiosity you discover there is much more to know. Listen with questions rather than answers. Be open to differences when you listen, rather than expecting similarities. Listening deeply demands that you enter the unknown. You will discover more here, on Sameness and Difference. You are hungry for this unknown, for in it is contained the other, the one you are learning and yearning to love.
Your attachment style will influence what you expect to hear. Read “Attachment style and your relationship”, for an in-depth Insight. As the listener, you have a whole life-time of experience which creates your listening-filter. Most of this filter is unconscious. In order to listen better, learn what your biases are, so you can make allowances. For instance, if you know your first reaction will always be to defend yourself, (anticipating a broadside) pull back a bit and listen properly before you appear in full armour. And before you make the speaker wrong. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
If you had no preconceptions, what would you see or hear? If this was your first date, how would you listen? Can you imagine that? How would you be, rather than crouching behind the battlements? What if you had “beginners mind”? Create a space and see what comes. Think about what you can learn – about yourself or about your loved one? Keep still and observe – your own thoughts, as well as the words you are hearing.
Richard Moss famously said, “The greatest gift we can give is the quality of our attention.”
So, it is up to you, the listener, to do four things:
Attachment style also influences what you are afraid to say. You cannot guarantee how another person will hear you or understand what you have to say, either. What they hear will be filtered through their own ideas and preconceived concepts, to name just two elements which impede accurate hearing. Your speech is likewise impeded by all the unconscious prohibitions you have gathered throughout your life.
So, your obligation is to choose your words well, and thrash through the thickets of prohibitions till you get to the proximity of your own deepest truth. And then you can entrust your listening loved one with that truth. Craft your speech to convey the weight of your feelings, your plans and important concepts. Take the risk of your words. Reality is shaped by your words! Study the effect your words have on your loved one and how events unfold around you.
So, it is up to you, the speaker, to do four things:
The Couples Institute has a process called “I – I” or Initiator/Inquirer. I often use this with couples in session because it trains us in the art of both speaking and listening. Here is a podcast with Drs Peter Pearson and Ellyn Bader, founders of the Couples Institute, on communication and the “I-I” process.
Copyright 2019 Dr Kaye Gersch