My partner says I don’t know how to listen. I think I do a good job, but we seem to misunderstand each other a lot.
Even when we know the other person isn’t trying to hurt us on purpose, sometimes their responses make us feel like they aren’t really listening. Like every other skill you have, there is probably a better way to listen than we do naturally.
Here are a few key pointers: 1) When you hear something that you don’t understand, or that seems negative, respond with a question in as positive a tone as you can. Questions that start with “Can you clarify …” or “How do…” or even “Why…” can often let the other person clarify what they mean to say more fully and avoid jumping to conclusions. 2) When you do hear something you disagree with, try saying something like “That’s different than I see it, but I’d really like to hear more about your thoughts… maybe I’m missing some information.” And then let them clarify without jumping in with comments right away. The more we open the door for respectful listening, the more others will be comfortable really sharing their feelings and ideas.
“PAIRS skills are so simple, and yet so powerful. I just wish I’d known about them years earlier!” – Jason C.