Have you ever searched on the internet for a good article about communication? There are over five hundred million results when you type in the word communication into Google. People want to know how to communicate better. There is no shortage of information on communication out there. So, why add to the deluge of information? Because good communication is important to couples. I want to make it simple. How many resources give you 4 quick tips to communication? I believe we all need simple ways to remember how to listen to our spouse or partner so that communication is more clear.
Listening is the most important aspect of communication. I believe that if you listen well and with intention, all communication can be positive and clear. So, here are 4 tips to listening that will help you improve your communication today.
- Listen: What I mean by this is simply to hear the exact words coming out of the other person’s mouth. Start off the conversation by talking to your self and saying a trigger word such as, “listen,” “be open,” “hear,” or whatever word places you into the mode of truly listening. You need to be in a “gathering information mode.” Be a detective and gather all the information first, before you make any assumptions or react.
- Repeat or Summarize the “speaker’s” words: After the person speaking has said what they need to say, simply repeat back what you understood that they said and felt. Then, ask if this is what they are saying.
- Ask clarifying questions: Clarifying questions are those questions that attempt to help fill in blanks, but do not manipulate the content of what the speaker is saying. If I am ordering at a restaurant, the waiter may clarify if I want a large fry or a medium fry. An example of a lead in into a clarifying question might be, “Is it this? or Is it that?”
- Finally, don’t respond before you ask permission to respond. You can ask, “Did I understand what you said as you need me to?” If so, then you can ask, “Is it okay if I respond to that?” However, you must be okay with the speaker’s answer. If they say, “No, I would rather you not respond,” then you must accept their answer.
Obviously there is more to listening than these tips, but keeping it simple can help you improve your listening by a lot. The goal of listening is truly to understand the speaker the way they need you to understand them. By using these tips, it will help you to put your emotions outside of the situation and be open to hearing your partner. Gary Smalley has a podcast where he talks more about positive ways to communicate than can help improve your marriage. No matter what information you choose to use to communicate better, the most important key is to practice. Consistent and persistent practice will help build your communication skills so that they become second nature.