16 Jan

Poor communication is a major problem encountered by many couples. Often times couples feel misunderstood and unseen in the relationship. 

Effective and positive communication is an important part of creating a connection and the skill of active listening is one of its crucial  building blocks.

What really is active listening? Why is it important? Active listening is a communication skill that involves going beyond simply hearing the words that another person speaks. It involves also seeking to understand the meaning and intent behind them their words. This sometimes can present as a real challenge in the busy lives we all live, trying to balance multiple priorities. 

The skill of active listening is, most of all, about creating an environment, in which we are present in the moment. That means prioritising time of the day when we can focus our attention and remain present in the moment. It can be just half an hour to an hour during an evening meal. Some of the basic strategies to  consider when practising active listening skill include:

  • creating a suitable environment with minimal disruptions e.g. putting away devices, not responding to phone calls. turning off background noise from TV's etc. 
  • showing interest in the conversation by engaging simple "active listening body language" which includes: good eye contact and front facing the person we are talking to; uncrossed arms; gentle tone of voice; and, gently leaning forward to show interest
  • utilising verbal active listening skills though, for example:

     - clarifying the content of what is being conveyed to us by asking clarifying questions e.g. "Is that what you mean?"     

     - showing interest in the topic being discussed by asking open-ended questions e.g. "Can you tell me more about it?"    

      - paraphrasing and reflecting back what has been said;     

     - listening to understand rather than to respond.

  • It is important that our active listening is about focusing our attention on what the other person wants to convey, withholding judgments we might have about the situation or other people involved in it
  • Active listening is not about trying to solve the other person's problem; so try to stay away from offering solution - focused advice. 

By active listening we are making a commitment to maintain a presence in the conversation in a positive way that makes the other person feel listened to, valued and understood. This skill is the foundation of a successful conversation in any setting—whether at work, at home, or in social situations.

LiteratureVerywellMind websitehttps://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-active-listening-3024343

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