Improve Your Relationships by Learning to Listen by Dr. Laura Fadell for Oakland County Moms. Tips to help you become a better listener. Are you a good listener, or simply waiting to talk? If asked, most people would say they’re good listeners. Like the time their spouse came home telling them about an upsetting incident at work, or when their child shared a story about the class hamster, or even when a good friend went through a major crisis. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is, because learning to listen is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced, many people only think they’re good listeners. As a practicing relationship therapist, the majority of couples who find themselves in my office are couples with poor communication skills. After all, listening is one half of all communication! And… the simple art of listening isn’t always so simple.
Why is learning to listen so important? Because it hurts not to be listened to! Learning to listen bridges the gap between individuals, and allows you to truly be with the other person. For example, when we talk about how distressed or bummed out we are, we really don’t want to be told that things will get better. We want to be known. In order to be a good listener it is imperative that you let go of what’s on your mind long enough to hear what’s on the other person’s. Remember, learning to listen is an art and an active process that requires us to suspend our own needs and reactions for a period of time. Suppressing our own urge to talk is much harder than it seems. This is why so many couples benefit from learning how to use reflective listening skills to communicate with their partner. According to John Gottman, a marital therapy researcher for over 25 years, most problematic issues in marriages (69%) don’t get solved they get managed. If you find yourself needing help to make these changes, find a professional who can help you get on the right path to truly listening and effectively communicating with your partner.
Learning to Listen Tips
- Wipe your mind clear of everything except what your partner is telling you Avoid becoming distracted
- Ask a follow-up question about what your partner just told you before adding any of your own comments into the conversation
- Paraphrase back to your partner what you think you heard them say to give them an opportunity to clarify whether you heard them correctly
- Never begin speaking until your partner has completely finished what they are saying – in fact a good rule of thumb is to think about what they have said for at least 5-7 seconds before saying anything at all!
Dr. Fadell is a fully licensed clinical psychologist and a certified school psychologist. She completed her undergraduate work at the University of Michigan, majoring in psychology and her graduate work at Wayne State University where she obtained her Masters and Doctorate degrees, also in psychology. After completing her graduate studies, Dr. Fadell received training at the well respected Beck Institute of Cognitive Therapy and Research under Aaron T. Beck, MD and Judith S. Beck, PhD, focusing on anxiety, depression and stress management. To further her skills in psychological assessment, she also received completed her certification as a school psychologist.
Services offered by Dr. Fadell include individual, family and couples therapy (ages 5 through adult); cognitive therapy for weight loss and maintenance; women’s issues; and psychological testing for ADHD and learning challenges. Dr. Fadell is in private practice in Bloomfield Hills and on staff at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. Visit www.drfadell.com for more information on learning to listen tips.
This Learning to Listen Tips was originally posted in 2011.