Mastering the art of active listening in a relationship.

The more profound level is active listening, a two-way process involving feedback. Paraphrasing becomes crucial here, allowing the listener to restate what they’ve understood, and offering a chance to correct misunderstandings. Clarifying goes a step further, asking questions empathetically to delve deeper into the speaker’s perspective. Giving feedback, sharing personal thoughts on the conversation, complete the circle.

Listening is a skill often overlooked in formal education. Assuming it comes naturally, we listen for what we want to hear rather than what the other person intends to convey. This inability to listen is a root cause of interpersonal conflicts. Healthy relationships thrive on good listening skills, showing respect and care, and fostering openness to others and their worldview.

Obstacles to good listening are common, requiring courageous self-reflection and practice to overcome. Being judgmental, rehearsing arguments, filtering information, advising when not invited to do so, mind reading, pleasing for peacekeeping, and deflecting are hurdles that hinder effective communication.

The practical listening exercise for couples, known as reciprocal listening, can be a transformative tool. It involves taking turns as the speaker and the listener, providing a structured yet powerful way to understand each other’s perspectives without escalating into an argument.

Extending the focus to children, active listening becomes a gift- an affirmation that they matter. Adults can model good listening for children, guiding them in using active listening skills. Paying attention, knowing when to use active listening, listening with patience, encouraging conversation, and attending to nonverbal cues are essential practices.

In the Symphony of communication, active listening emerges as the conductor, orchestrating harmony, respect, and understanding- a skill to be nurtured and cherished for the well-being of relationships.

Dr. Baya Mebarek, Psy.D.,LMFT

www.sandiegofamilytherapy.net