When your partner speaks, do you think you’re as good a listener as the family dog or cat? Lets take a look at what pets may bring to the table with good listening skills and emulate their behavior:
1. Look directly at your partner and pay attention – don’t let your mind wander off topic or to your potential response. Make the person who is speaking the most important one in the universe at that moment.
2. Allow your partner to complete his or her thoughts. When it is appropriate, use active listening to indicate that you understand what they are saying. Don’t interrupt or offer your opinion unless you are asked.
3. Tune in to the emotional undercurrent coming from the speaker and let him or her know that you empathize and provide unconditional support. Staying physically close allows you to “touch” your partner virtually as well as in reality.
4. Allow your partner the freedom and time to find his or her own solution. By demonstrating this trust in your partner’s abilities, you can be supportive but not directive.
5. Recognize your partner’s perspective. For men whose first reaction may be to solve a problem described to them, remember that many women are seeking not solutions but to have their concerns heard. They want to have their feelings validated by those closest to them. Women are generally attuned to talking about what is bothering them and are more likely to feel loved and cherished when the men in their life connect with them in this way.
On the other hand, men’s conversations often revolve around how to fix things, solve a problem, accomplish a goal – that is, when they’re not about the score of the latest, or a classic old, game. For some, the focus may be about winning, being the best, outperforming the others in a competition, being at the top of the food chain – it’s almost as it their confidence and self-worth depend on it.
Would you like to learn about how some prominent men and women – including Ted Kennedy, Tim Russert, Susan Boyle, and Sully Sullenberger – touched others and coped with challenges in their lives? Click on the link to the left where you can sign up for our monthly newsletter, Stepping Stones, and receive a complimentary copy of the ebook, Courage and Lessons Learned, which showcases tips and strategies to use in your own life, especially if you’re a Sandwiched Boomer.