“Truly listening and wanting to understand another is one of the highest forms of love.”
Listening is more than a behavior – it is a gift. When we open our ears to what someone is saying, we are giving the gift of attention. When we show interest in the worldview of another person by listening for what they value, we give the gift of seeking to understand.
Listening to hear clearly, and seeking to understand better are signs of an interested listener. Gottman states, “Building love and trust involves really listening to our partners… periodically take your partner’s emotional temperature.”
You may not understand why the person you are listening to is thinking the way he/she thinks – you don’t have to. Seeking to understand is powerful enough. Being understanding is about who you are and what you are giving when you listen.
Being tuned-in when you are listening is important. It sends a silent message that the person you are investing in is worth it.
One Thing to Do: Learn (a variation of) steps taken from page two of The Gottman Institute brochure on “How to be a Great Listener.”
Attunement: Be present with your partner.
- Ask questions. Really listen to the answers.
- Follow up on the answers you get.
- Ask open-ended questions. These open the heart.
- Avoid judgment.
- Avoid giving advice until you fully understand or it has been asked for.
- Make exploratory statements to gain understanding, “Tell me the story of that.”
- Have respect for the person and the process of sharing.
- Have empathy and seek to understand.
- Breath. This isn’t personal; it’s possible.
Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.