When it comes to making your relationship stronger, there are thousands of tips and tricks out there. But one that often gets overlooked is the power of active listening. Active listening is a communication skill that involves truly hearing and understanding your partner's thoughts, feelings, and needs. When you actively listen to your partner, you show them that you value their input and are invested in the relationship. Here's how to use active listening to make your relationship stronger:
Practice Presence: Active listening requires being fully present in the conversation. This means putting down your phone, turning off the TV, and giving your partner your undivided attention. When you're truly present, you're able to pick up on the nuances of what your partner is saying and respond in a way that shows you understand and care.
Use Non-Verbal Cues: When you're actively listening, it's important to use non-verbal cues to show your partner that you're engaged in the conversation. This can include making eye contact, nodding, and using facial expressions to convey your emotions. By doing so, you're able to build trust and create a sense of intimacy in the relationship.
Reflect and Validate: One of the most important aspects of active listening is reflecting and validating your partner's feelings. This means summarizing what they've said to show that you understand and then acknowledging their emotions. For example, if your partner is expressing frustration about a work situation, you might say something like, "It sounds like you're really overwhelmed and frustrated with your workload right now. That must be really tough." By doing so, you're able to create a safe space for your partner to express themselves and feel heard.
Avoid Interrupting: When you interrupt your partner, it sends the message that you're not really interested in what they have to say. This can be damaging to the relationship and make your partner feel undervalued. Instead, make a conscious effort to let them speak uninterrupted and give them the space to express themselves fully.
Listen to understand, not respond: Many people think they are actively listening all the time, but the truth is they are not. When you are listening to respond, to share your perspective difference, or to express your agenda, you are not listening. Active listening is about turning towards your partner and hearing their thoughts, needs, perspectives, etc, and engaging with that. Not comparing it to your experience, but trying to understand theirs.
Active listening is a powerful tool for strengthening your relationship. By being fully present, using non-verbal cues, reflecting and validating your partner's feelings, and avoiding interruptions, you can create a safe and intimate space for your partner to express themselves and feel heard. So the next time you're having a conversation with your partner, take a deep breath, put down your phone, and practice active listening. Your relationship will thank you for it.