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Don’t Talk and Don’t Listen December 8, 2008

Posted by downton in Don't Talk and Don't Listen.
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Don’t Talk and Don’t Listen

     It’s funny in a tragic kind of way how two people in the early stages of romance can talk and listen to each other intensively and then, after the romantic stage has passed, give up talking and listening to each as if deep communication was the plague.  One of the quickest ways to screw up love is to quit talking and listening to each other.  I want to emphasize the listening, because it’s what helps us to understand our mate’s feelings, needs, and desires for change.  Now, a couple can think they’re talking and listening to each other, when there’s not much of a connection.  It’s a little like static is passing between them.  They’re not really communicating at a deep enough level to solve problems and get the support they need from each other.

     George and Brenda came to me for a coaching session because their relationship was going down the drain.  Why?  They couldn’t communicate effectively.  I still remember the day when they got into a shouting match in my study.  Brenda was screaming about how George never shared his feelings. George responded with, “Are you nuts? I express my feelings all the time.  You just don’t hear them because you’re talking all the time.  You don’t listen!”

     Some men and women have evolved to the point where they can actually talk about their problems without breaking up the furniture.  In fact, when there’s a breakdown in the relationship they work on the issues until the breakdown is resolved, unlike many people who withdraw in anger and pout for days. When a relationship is at the crisis point, you can be sure that the couple is failing to communicate at a deep level, which means they’re not listening to each other which means they won’t understand their partner’s point of view. When a couple gets to this point and doesn’t change, one of two things will happen.  They’ll split up or make each other miserable for the rest of their lives.

     Most people are not taught how to listen deeply to another person. They just listen haphazardly for as long as they want and either take the floor or change the subject. So, let me share a different way of listening. When someone is sharing, listen for four things: The facts they present, the feelings they express, the needs they have, and the change they desire. Each level of listening will take you to a deeper level of understanding. At the end, tell the speaker what you have heard at the four levels, because that helps to enlightenment the person about his or her issues and desires. Also, when you’re communicating with someone, you can consciously lay out the facts, your feelings, your needs, and the change you desire. This will make your communication clearer for the other person, so the likelihood of understanding will increase.

    There is also the problem of not talking. Some people are so reluctant to share themselves, they hold back. Instead of talking, they protect themselves by asking questions. If the other person is talking, they feel more comfortable because they are less exposed. Yet, they pay a price for this. What’s the price? They don’t get to share themselves at a deep level. They don’t get to bring them.

     A relationship works best when the partners both talk and then listen deeply for facts, feelings, needs, and the desire for change. Quiet types have to learn to speak up; talkative types have to learn to listen. When both talk and listen, the chance of solving important problems increases.

Coaching Tips

■ Sit down with your mate and, together, write down all the things you do while communicating that help you solve problems while drawing you closer together. Then list what you do that causes breakdowns in communication so problems don’t get resolved and you dislike each other afterward.  Design a couple of changes in your way you’re communicating that will cultivate more love between you. Even two changes can produce pretty dramatic results.

■ When communicating with your mate make sure to cover the facts of the situation as you see them, your feelings, your needs, and how you’d like the situation to change.

■ When you’re listening to your mate, pay close attention to how he or she sees the facts, his or her feelings, needs, and what kinds of changes are desired.

■ When you have talked and listened at the deep level of the facts, feelings, needs, and desired changes, you will come to understand each other better. That understanding will allow you to solve your problems in more constructive ways.

With your partner, discuss how you will stay committed to finding solutions to problems when there’s a breakdown.

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