Active Listening for Relationships
by Devora Krasnianski, founder of Adai Ad Institute
Active Listening is a form of listening and responding that can deepen the bond, the trust, the understanding and the mutual respect in relationships. Active listening helps to reduce conflict and avoid or clear up misunderstandings.
With active listening, the listener gives their full attention to the speaker, as opposed to half listening or impatiently waiting to jump in with what they have to say.
Active listening promotes more effective communication When the listener is fully present, they tend to become more attuned with the speaker and pick up on more of the non-verbal communication; tone of voice, eye contact, facial expressions, body language and reading what’s not being said through cues like hesitation in the voice. It’s all too easy to view communication in terms of the relaying of facts and ignore the emotional component.
Blocks to healthy communication. When active listening, resist the temptation to assume you already know what the speaker is trying to say. It’s easy to think “oh I’ve heard this line before” or “you’re just trying to lay blame” or “don’t you pull the wool over my eyes”, or just “ok ok I know what has happened I was watching”. These kinds of assumptions generally lack all the information, including the feelings of the speaker. Other blocks are interrogating; impatiently asking a series of questions with a tone of evaluation, competing, criticizing and demanding.
People tend to listen more or less as well as they feel listened to.Understanding can also be reflected through eye contact, nodding the head and body language that shows patience and interest.
Reflecting back what you’ve heard uncovers misunderstandings earlier. The listener can then reflect back by paraphrasing in their own words what they think they’ve understood and then give the other person speaking a chance to clarify or further explain; “Ok so what I think I understand is that what happened was …., then this happened ….., and now you’re feeling …. and what you now need is for …. Does that sound right?”
Because active listening slows down the communication, this helps people to feel more safe and secure; it lowers rather than raises their stress levels. People can only really share when they feel safe and secure. During dating, people may need more time to process their thoughts and feelings.
Active Listening gives more time, more presence and more spaciousness to the communication. Active listening has the potential to heal, restore peace, clarify misunderstandings, give strength, repair disconnection and rebuild trust. Listening fosters relating and it’s the RELATING bit that makes RELATIONSHIPS work effectively!