Are You Truly Listening? 3 Tips to Listen Better

Are more people talking to therapists?

As the need for mental health services increases in America, I want to ask “Are we listening?”  More and more people are seeking out help from a therapist, almost twice as many now as two decades ago. My family is benefiting from therapy. I know many of my friends are too. 

A therapist listens

Why the increase? What is driving the change? That is a subject for psychologists and health professionals. But what is remarkable to me is the reality that more and more people are paying a therapist to listen to them. A therapist offers suggestions and helps an individual deal with stress and trauma, but ultimately, the greatest strength stems from their ability to listen, really listen to the things their client is sharing.

Become a better listener

I am not interested in becoming a therapist, but I do value this realization. Georgia Anderson, a Certified Active Parenting Instructor and Gottman Trained Educator, helped me understand this powerful skill while attending a Marriage Education Course that she facilitated. We can all benefit from becoming better listeners, and becoming a better listener takes work!

Turning towards each other

One of the seven principles in the Gottman course is “turning towards each other instead of away.” Georgia teaches us a deeper level of listening by sharing a Chinese congee character for “listen.”  This character is made up of several elements. Each element teaches us something more about how to listen. We see the character for ears, the most obvious part of listening. But there is also a line that indicates “undivided attention”, a crucial piece for a good listener. Next, there is the symbol for eyes, a reminder that listening also requires watching for body language and facial expression as someone is speaking, sharing thoughts and feelings.

Heart and Mind

The last two elements to the listening congee are heart and mind. Naturally, one must have heart “to feel” and a mind “to think” when listening to a loved one. If we want someone to trust us with their thoughts, ideas, sadness, frustration and joy we have to be ready to feel the emotions as they express them and be engaged mentally to be sure you hear what is being said as well as not being said.

Good listening is vital

A good marriage relationship depends on good listening. Each person needs to be validated and heard. Each person benefits from understanding and appreciating. It has to go both ways. There is no question that difficulties will come. Finances, school, health, work, family, society – they all press in and test the bonds of your relationship. Knowing that you can talk and be heard is crucial.

Practice your listening skills

Georgia reminds us that active listening isn’t easy. It takes effort. We need to practice all the time. Investing in your relationship by practicing good listening skills produces impressive dividends in a marriage. My husband and I have benefited from participating in the Gottman Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work several times.  Moreover, our marriage is a work in progress. When we take time to discuss us, our individual goals and dreams and where we want to go as a couple our happiness increases. This takes listening. Active listening. Listening with our ears, eyes, heart, mind and undivided attention.

Valentine Cruise

If you are interested in becoming a better listener and investing in your marriage, join us for our Valentine Cruise in February. It’s the perfect time to enjoy Caribbean sunshine, be together as a couple and also work on your relationship with each other.

couple during breakout time from marriage course
couple time on royal Caribbean Jewel of the SEa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *