One little skill – listening – can change any relationship and offers a great gift to your partner and you. Being listened to feels wonderful but a lot of couples stop doing it and instead just state reflective thought positions. We know the hollow feeling when trying to explain something difficult and the subject gets changed quickly, a solution is provided instantly or there is no real interest being shown by the other.
Think of all the people you know and you will find you are attracted to the ones who listen well. These people give you the gift to freely explore your thoughts no matter if they’re good, shitty or plain crazy, and in doing so they allow you to find solutions to your issues in a creative way.
So what does it mean to be a good listener, and how do you go about it? It means not putting forward your own opinion, your judgment or your need to defend yourself from what is being said. Try instead to get into the other person’s head and extend their thoughts by asking more questions and staying focused on their subject.
Who are the people you go to for advice? Not the hard, practical ones who can tell you exactly what to do, but to the listeners, the kindest, least censorious, least bossy people you know. And if you are a listener, it is the secret of having a good time in society because everybody around you becomes lively and interesting. You are engaged and so are they and your life focus changes dramatically. You become so more connected to everyone and you are never lonely.
We are also attracted to funny people, those that tell interesting stories and those that are lively. We can feel we have to be interesting to others or the world will ignore us. I remember when younger wanting to be entertaining at parties and scared of having nothing interesting to say – a recipe for social anxiety when all I had to do is talk to someone and just listen. By listening to another I leave my world behind and enter another’s, and in doing so I am not lonely or anxious anymore.
People who only broadcast and don’t listen can become very lonely. Fathers don’t listen to sons, bosses stop listening to employees, lovers stop feeling connected to one another and life presents a feeling of being disconnected. The most serious result of not listening is boredom and is really the death of love. It seals people off from each other more than any other thing.
So try listening. Start today with your lover, your father, your mother, your friends, to those who love you and those who don’t, to those who bore you, to your enemies. It will work a small miracle. It will become a gift to you as well as them. Take care.
Gerry is a gay couple and general counsellor treating depression, anxiety, sexual matters and addictions. Email: [email protected]