When It's Time to Listen
It's Not About Me
What I Hear and What You Say
I could have called this the secret to a successful and passionate relationship and it would be true. This may be the single most important key to closeness and connection with your partner. While your previous attempts at listening may have failed badly, the up side is, most of life's best lessons, and for some, writing and poetry, comes from the crucible of trial and error in close relationships.
To illustrate the need for this valuable skill, consider one of my favorites:
Why Guys Shouldn't Have Advice Columns
The other day I set off for work for a very important meeting with our best client. I hadn’t gone more than a mile when my engine conked out and the car shuddered to a halt. When I called my best friend for help, she said she and her boyfriend were going to a movie and couldn’t help. I called my parents and they were in the middle of a bingo game and they each had two almost winning cards. My boyfriend answered just before my battery ran out and told me he was breaking up with me and didn’t think it would be appropriate for him to pick me up. I am so frustrated and depressed I don’t know what to do. Can you help me?
A car stalling can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Check that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it’s clear, check the servo spring clips holding the vacuum pipes onto the inlet manifold. Or it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the carburetor float chamber.
I hope this helps.
Even though the example above is directed at the men, ladies, listening is a skill both can learn.
Why We Don't Listen
1. We try to fix it.
Abbot was doing what a man likes to do, he was trying to fix what he thought was the problem. Unfortunately for us, what appears fixable is rarely the real problem. Sometimes it helps to say to yourself, remember, the goal is to hear not fix.
2. We can't hear it.
E. Eggerich in his book Love and Respect says that women speak and hear pink (words like love, adore, cherish, treasure, special, or romantic) while men speak and hear blue (words like respect, admire, impressed, wowed, hero, or look up to.) The challenge for men is to hear and speak more "loving" words and women would see their man light up when they spoke more "respect" words.
3. We are too busy thinking about our part of the conversation
If the conversation is about us, we tend to think of the correctness of the facts, the fairness or the tone coming our way and we already are starting to build our rebuttal or at least clarification of what the other is saying.
4. We get defensive
The most important thing to remember is the last part of my poem below.
5. We are rehearsing our own hurt
Many times when we hear someone talking to us about something we did or said, we remember the times when something worse was done to us or someone else by the one sharing and before we know it, our view of the speaker is not even close to the shining knight or stunning princess we fell in love with. A simple exercise might be to focus on three or four things you love about them while you hear them speak.
It's About You
When You Need Me to Listen
When you need me to listen,
I will look into your eyes
and be quiet
I will listen, not to criticize, nor to get you to change or agree,
I will listen to understand
When you are ready, I will tell you what I hear
even the part that remains unspoken
I do not need to protect
or defend myself from your words
They are merely sign posts directing me to
the feelings and needs behind them
What you mean or feel or desire may not be what I see
Nor the way I see them
So I will ask and listen
Until I understand
Until you know that I am on your side
Until we find the place where we can meet
Because when it is time to listen,
It is not about me
It is about you
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