Using 'Reflective Listening' To Improve Relationship Communication

Communication is a multi faceted skill set.  We often get so caught up in improving our ‘Verbal’ communication skills, we don’t dedicate the necessary time to all the other bits that make communication successful. 
 
Perhaps the most overlooked and wayward of the communication skills these days, across our society as a whole, is LISTENING.

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Why yes.  Remember LISTENING?  It’s that oh so crucial other half of Verbal communication, that if we don’t get it right… we miss out on the conversation and on connection, completely.
 
 
Today, I wanted to focus on one particular listening skill we can all easily work towards being better at, every day called REFLECTIVE LISTENING.


 
>> You know when your partner jumps in, midway through your well thought out rant and finishes your sentences for you?
 
>> When you find yourself tuning out your partner, as you retreat into your own mind to carefully mount your defense, AKA your response, to what they are saying?
 
>> Or how about when you KNOW you’re speaking plain English and yet still, what they heard and what you said, simply doesn’t match up??


 

Seeing RED yet?

I don’t blame you.  We’ve all been there.
 
This is what listening to respond looks like.  WE NEED to learn how to listen to UNDERSTAND! 
 
This is also why you keep having the same conversations over and over, and are getting nowhere but straight to the land of frustration and anger. 
 
Next stop on that train?
 
Derailment!   Cause why bother, right?   Why even go through the trouble oftalking about this anymore?  Nothing ever changes!  They aren’t really listening to you, anyways!


Using a technique called REFLECTIVE LISTENING can quickly help you become a better listener.  Reflective listening, begins with the simple act of repeating back what someone say to us, but in your own words.  This shows you didn’t just hear what the other person said, but understood it as well.

rying this skill set on.  At first, can feel a bit odd and insincere.  You may even think, this might prove more annoying than anything else.  However, when used correctly (and practice will get you there)  REFLECTIVE LISTENING is a killer way to drive conversations forward.
 
Here is a prime example of such an exchange;
 
SPEAKER 1
I get so angry when you spend so much money without telling me. We’re trying to save for a house!!!
 
SPEAKER 2
We’re working hard to save for a a house, so its really frustrating when it seems like I don’t care
.
 

 
Now, TONE is really important here.  We want to use a tone that comes across as a statement, with a bit of uncertainty.  The end goal is to express ‘I think this is what you are telling me, but correct me if I’m wrong’. Your reflections don’t have to be perfect.  If the other person has to correct you, that’s actually a really good thing!  Helllllo!  Now, you are actually having a conversation based on trying to really understand one another better.  Not, oh I don’t know. Trying to prove a point, win an argument, or force someone to hear you!
 
That, my darlings, is progress from the familiar train wreck we are accustomed to, in just a few sentences exchanged.


 
Try to reflect the other persons emotions, even if it wasn’t part of the sentence they spoke. 
 
SPEAKER 1
Why do you always take this route?  There is always traffic and we are going to be late again to pick up the kids?
 
SPEAKER 2
You’re worried we will be late to pick up the kids, and I’ve chosen the route I know best, that usually has traffic.  Do you know a better route we can take?

 
Speaker 1 never mentioned being worried however it was probably implied through their tone or the look on their face.  When we acknowledge emotions, it hows we are not just listening and mimicking back their words but using our eyes to read our partners communication as well.  The understanding, just got next leveled! 



 

Sometimes our partners have a whole lot to say in one statement, filled with both essential and non essential details and story lines.  And pulling out a notebook or recording device to keep up, well that might not send the right message J
 
When we reflect back, we want to pick out the main points only.
 
SPEAKER 1
First, I woke up late, because you turned off both alarms. Then I went to get in the bathroom to get ready and nearly killed myself because the floor was soaking wet from when you took a shower, my mom called and you know how that gets me worked up, the dog peed on the floor, the kids were running around with two different shoes on, I forgot to brush my teeth, and to top it all off I get into the car and there is no gas in it BECAUSE you the last person to drive it, left me on empty!! 
 
 
SPEAKER 2

I hear you saying, you had a shitty morning and that I contributed to that by not taking the time to consider how my actions may affect you. 
 

The reality is, most of us have a handful of well grooved auto responses on hand that are continuing the unsuccessful dynamics in our relationship communications. 
 
Do you know what I say when my husband complains about the route I chose to drive?
 
“Oh, sorry… did you want to drive?!?!?!“ in my best flippant nasty tone.
 
Yup. Almost every time.  Not very reflective, huh?
 
Most humans are creatures of habit.  We wear a groove and settle there.  Sometimes habitual structure can be a good thing.  We always say ‘I love you’ when someone leaves the house or a quick kiss goodnight before rolling over, like clockwork. 

However, when the groove becomes a rut, and is causing communication to break down in our relationship, the very next thing to go is connection. 
 
Without connection, love cannot survive. 
 
 

I love to hear how you get on with introducing REFLECTIVE LISTENING into your communications in the comments here!

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