Thanks to all of you who reached out and gave me a cyber hug last week. It was encouraging to know there are people out there reading this newsletter/blog. I really appreciated your kind words of encouragement.
We are looking at the list of secure traits listed on the web site. These are our relational goals no matter what our love style. Here is the traits we will discuss this week.
I am a good listener and know how to ask thoughtful questions.
We find resolution is much more likely to occur when good listening precedes problem solving. So often we try to solve problems without really listening. Listening is a learned skill. We enter adulthood with the level of skill our families modeled and taught. What did questions mean in your family growing up? Was it most often an indicator that a caretaker wanted to know and understand you better or did it mean you were about to get in trouble? Good listeners ask insightful questions. Some people are ready to fight and get defensive the moment anyone asks them anything. Ask your spouse or adults close to you what questions meant to them growing up.
So how do you rate yourself as a listener? We find people commonly overrate their ability to listen. Being a good listener means you must learn to ask perceptive questions. Effective questioning brings insight, which stimulates curiosity, which cultivates wisdom and understanding. There is no greater gift than giving someone the unhurried time of your undivided attention. Here are some questions to consider.
- Can you stay in the listener role when you are hearing something upsetting?
- Can you ask questions without making other people feel trapped or defensive?
- Can you control your reactivity when you listen?
- How long can you listen before you don’t know what to ask or how to keep finding out more? (Test this out and time yourself).
- Are you willing to wade into painful or difficult subjects?
- Have you ever asked family members what would make you a better listener?
- Have you ever missed an opportunity to listen or gotten reactive and gone back and asked for a do-over?
- Do you ask about feelings when you listen?
- Are you aware of when introverts are being overlooked?
- Are you careful to listen as much as you talk?
- Do you make time to listen to those you love?
Milan and I look back and realize we were terrible listeners the first 15 years of our marriage. We learned to risk honesty and expand our ability to talk about difficult things. Here are some things we did:
- We started with childhood memories. It’s easier to learn to stay in the listener role if its’ about the past and not current problems. The side benefit of this listening was we gained insight into each other.
- We used a feelings words sheet and learned to ask about feelings in every conversation. We asked more about the feeling that was most unexpected.
- We made an effort to speak the truth in love. (Avoiders and Pleasers and Victims aren’t honest and Vacillators and Controllers don’t speak with love).
- We made efforts to listen for longer periods of time.
- We asked for do-over’s when we got reactive or defensive and stopped listening.
- We took “time outs” and waited until morning if disagreements happened at night when we were tired and worn out. We made sure to come back and listen and resolve later.