One of the most common complaints that I hear during couples therapy is that someone does not feel they are being listened to. In order to solve this problem, it usually requires that the other partner learns to become a better listener in a way that is evident to the other person.
Becoming a better listener really isn’t all that difficult. A technique that helps is call “reflective listening.” However, reflective listening requires having the patience to wait your turn.
Reflective listening is a communication strategy involving two steps: 1) seeking to understand what someone is saying, and 2) repeating back to the speaker to confirm that the content has been understood correctly.
The Importance of Feeling Understood
Each partner wants to be understood by the other. Often what happens is each person tries so hard to get their own point of view across that they cannot hear their partner’s point of view.
Sometimes, each one tries so hard to get understood that they do not understand their partner. As a result, talking becomes an argument over who is right and who is wrong. Then, arguments escalate into unproductive and hurtful fights.
What’s so sad about this scenario is that it was actually an opportunity for the couple to show respect and admiration and bring them closer together.
Reflective Listening in Marriage Counseling
Reflective listening is different than merely listening. Reflective listening demonstrates to your partner that you understand them or at least you are trying hard to. It demonstrates your interest and effort to connect on a deeper level.
When you truly want to know your partner on a deeper level, your partner will sense it. Couples therapy can help with this process
If this can happen, talking or discussing will not escalate into fighting, although it may get emotionally charged. Learning reflective listening will lead you to know your partner’s inner world. This in turn will to lead to your partner wanting to know your inner world.
Couples Therapy Can Help
At first communicating with reflective listening will most likely feel awkward and mechanical. As you practice, you will be able to do it naturally. Under most circumstance, it is better to communicate effectively in an awkward way than to communicate poorly in a naturally way.
Remember how you learned to ride a bike: at first it was awkward and took a lot of effort. But over time, riding a bike became easy. Eventually, reflective listening can also become spontaneous, natural and part of your own unique way of communicating.