Have you ever said, heard, or “thought” this complaint?
“You aren’t listening to me”
Recently Susie had to have a home exam by a nurse to qualify for a life insurance policy. The nurse was 30 minutes late and finally called for directions because she was lost and couldn’t find our house.When Susie explained directions to our house, Susie could tell that the nurse wasn’t listening to her because the nurse kept saying that our house was near apartments.It isn’t–but the nurse just couldn’t seem to get past her pre-conceived idea of where our house was located.
Sure enough, she had to call again because she was unable to find our house so Susie explained again the same directions that she gave before. The nurse was surprised that she couldn’t find our house because she knew our city “like the back of her hand.”
This seems to be exactly what happens in many relationships. We have a preconceived idea of how the other person is thinking or feeling so we don’t listen when he or she speaks.The problem is that we often listen from our own agenda and our own frame of reference. We find ourselves listening to tell our story rather than listening to connect with the other person.
How many times has someone told you something and your response is not about them but about howthe same or a similar situation has happened to you?
How many times has someone told you something and you start thinking about how what they told you will impact you instead of just listening to the other person and how they are feeling?
We struggle with this like everyone else but when we find that we are not listening to each other, we stop and acknowledge that it is happening. Then we do whatever is necessary to bring ourselves back into the present moment.
That may mean giving each other space to discover feelings that have come up that prevent us from listening with an open heart and mind. When we do that, we always set a time when we will discuss the issue again.It may be that we need to simply turn and face the other person, stop what we are doing, and make eye contact to listen with the intention to understand.
One of the deepest needs that we all have is the desire to be understood and to feel important. One way another person can truly feel understood is if you listen to them to connect rather than to react or respond. So this week we invite you to consider making listening to connect with others a priority in your life. If you do,you’ll see and feel a positive shift in your relationships
Susie and Otto Collins are married, relationship coaches and authors of four books on relationships. If you are interested in finding out more about how to have better communication in your relationships, you’ll find many more stories, specific suggestions and ideas in “Communication Magic.” To find out more about this e-book click here