Guideline # 6 for a Healthy Relationship

Written by on August 9, 2012 in On Relationships

Learn to Listen.

Learning how to listen to your partner will completely change your relationship. FYI: Listening is not the same thing as waiting for your turn to talk. (Sometimes rather impatiently) Listening is the ability to suspend your ideas and opinions and create an opening in your being to let the words, feelings, expressions of another person penetrate you. Silence and becoming comfortable with silence is important if you are learning to listen. It takes quite a bit of discipline if you have not done it much but is well worth the results.

Listening makes space

Listening creates space within your interactions. For example before getting angry or reacting to a statement made, listening first, really allowing the intent of the speaker to be felt creates space, a chance for thoughtful and conscious choices to be made. Instead of reacting you can choose your words carefully, make decisions based on deeper reasoning and you will be detached from the drama. Training yourself to pause and listen will help you become more conscious of your own motives as well. Making space in conversation has a calming effect on everyone.

Listening gives attention.

Deep listening gives deep attention to the speaker. The person will feel heard, cared about and as a result, will feel loved by you, even when you cannot or do not offer advice. Just simply listening and asking thoughtful questions will create an intimacy that is lacking in many relationships and is sometimes the reason people crave sex. Sex is attention. Listening deeply is also attention and can bring a lot of intimacy and fulfillment in any relationship.

Listening develops compassion.

When you really listen to others your heart opens. Any hardness will soften and the natural empathy you feel for others will emerge. You will grow in your own understanding when you empathize with others. By listening you are able to vicariously feel pain and the concern of others, that creates a level of understanding otherwise unachievable. Having the answers or being addicting to problem solving is not compassion, it is arrogant and self serving. Listening will develop your empathy and will open your heart to more compassionate relationships.

Listening is non-judgmental.

In order to truly listen you must suspend all judgment. By suspending your judgments your mind opens. When the mind is open it can learn new things, be inspired, expand your awareness and much more. Listening helps you to see both sides of the story and distance yourself from the issue. Judge after you have deeply listened. Knee-jerk judgments are not the same thing as wise discernment and really have little or no value. It is important to make wise and careful judgments only after you have opened your mind and listened. Listening itself will open your mind.

King Solomon

One story of King Solomon from the Bible is a good example of this. The story from 1 Kings 3 16-28 is recounted as follows:  Two women lived in the same house and both had infant sons. One of the infants died during the night and the woman who had lost her child traded the her dead child for the living child while the other woman slept. There was an argument in the morning about whose baby had died. They brought their dilemma before King Solomon. Both women claimed to be the mother of the living child and both women claimed the other woman was the mother of the dead child. King Solomon listened and deliberated for some time before asking for a sword. When the sword was brought forth he commanded the living infant to be cut in half and one half of the child be given to each woman. The true mother upon hearing this exclaimed “Give her the child, but do not kill him.” The other woman wanted the baby cut in half and cried out “Divide him, then he will be neither mine nor yours.” This allowed Solomon to discover the true mother by her love and desire to protect her own child. The infant was returned to his mother.

People came from far and wide to seek the counsel of King Solomon and he was known for his great wisdom. What is not made obvious in the story is that he listened to people. It was through his deep listening that he was able to make wise judgments. Listening will always produce a better conversation, a better decision, a better relationship.

Listening and really learning the discipline of deep listening is a worthy endeavor for improving your relationships and that is why guideline # 6 is: Learn to Listen.

 

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