Communication - listening for a change

In today’s increasingly fast-paced world, paying attention to other people takes time and requires commitment and motivation. However, good listening pays off because it leads to noticeably more accurate communication. Good listening skills are especially important for connecting to our intimate partners because they are the ones who are usually the easiest to turn off. When we do, it causes us immediate internal pandemonium. We rarely summon up focus and concentration to carefully listen to someone who is there beside us all the time. We’re too eager to listen to ourselves to validate our own concerns, experiences and opinions. To listen with empathy paves the way to see another more clearly and accurately. It maintains the threads for weaving together a meaningful and mutual life.

There are hundreds of books on communication, but unless we read a few of them and more importantly, implement some of their suggestions, many of us will continue to struggle with communicating within our  important relationships. Here are a few techniques that you can use to improve the communication with the person or people that are most important to you. 

(1) Listen deeply. Focus on what your partner is telling you. Don’t interrupt or disagree. Let them finish before you respond.

(2)  Listen without judging. Don’t reject what the other person is saying because it disagrees with your interpretation. The temptation is to stop listening and start formulating a defensive response. Try to have an open mind and be prepared to look at the issue being discussed from the other person’s perspective.

(3)  Choose the right time for a serious discussion. Don’t try to discuss important issues when you’re tired, cranky, watching television, or after a few drinks.

(4) Stay calm and be respectful. Remember, you’re generally trying to find a solution acceptable to both parties, not win a debate or worse, an argument.

(5) Stay focused on the issue you’re discussing. Don’t go off on tangents.

(6) Always avoid blaming the other person for any problems. You’re trying to find a solution, not make the problem worse by playing the blame game.

(7) Try to understand the other person’s point of view and if possible, their motivations for their current position. From their perspective, you may be causing the problem, not them.

(8) Don’t assume that your partner knows what you’re thinking or feeling. Not many of us are mind readers. Try to be as specific as possible and explain yourself clearly.

You can find out more about better communicationin the book How your relationship can thrive in retirement at 


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