Relationship Tip #3: LISTEN to Understand and NOT to Respond
This seems like a really easy one to avoid but it’s one of the biggest mistakes EVERY couple make when trying to discuss a problem they are having. It doesn’t matter whether the issue is small like the good old “toilet seat up or down” question or a big one like “you hurt my feelings when you_____”. Almost universally, we spend more time formulating our comeback or response than we do actually hearing the words and meaning of what is being told to us.
This is a really bad habit and it is a habit that needs to be broken. Why? Because it makes the person having the issue feel like what they’re saying is not important to you and that’s shitty The most ironic thing about this relationship faux pas is that the person who has this done to them, also does it back to he other person probably just as often as it happens to them. We all HATE it when it’s done to us but as if by magic, we are completely unaware of doing the exact same annoying and dismissive thing to someone else.
As this tends to be a habitual thing, we need a way to break the habit without it turning into another fight when one person slips up. I read this idea a few months back and I think it’s high time to not only implement it into my own relationship but share it on the blog so others can too.
Pick a night, only 1 night per week, where you address issues/grievances with your partner. Here are the rules:
- Each person has 5 minutes to air any issue they want from the past week.
- The listener is NOT ALLOWED to address the issue, at all. Only listen and comprehend. No verbal response even during their 5 minutes to air an issue.
- After both have expressed their issues, they then have 5 minutes in which to compliment the other person on something they loved or made them happy during the week.
- At the end of the 20 minutes of communicating – talking/listening. Do an activity together but under no condition are you allowed to reply to the other person about their issue with you.
- Alternate who goes first, every week. Keep track on your calendar.
This exercise is about listening and understanding, not fighting, not defending your position, not to find a way to shirk responsibility. It’s to hear how you have hurt the other person, so you can understand them better and fix it. What do you do if you don’t have any issues? Spend your time saying something that you appreciated during your 5 minutes of issues.
Don’t use your time to be vindictive, don’t use your time to sneak in ways to defend yourself. Just listen and try to do better next week.
Always remember that you love the person talking to you and you should want them to be happy. You should want to do all you can to make them happy and they should feel the same about you.