The other day I asked Joey why he wanted to date me when he first got to know me. Especially since I’d straight up told him we wouldn’t work out — ever. (read more of our love story here!) His answer: I was refreshing to talk to. woah. I don’t even talk very much!! I didn’t have to. I listened and engaged in positive conversation. Those two things made all the difference to him!
Notice he didn’t say it’s because I was funny (‘cause I’m not). It wasn’t because I was suuuper intellectual. It wasn’t because we had everything in common. I LISTENED and ENGAGED.
Now, I’m not saying I’m an expert in listening (though I did take a class on it in college!), but I’ve been a lifelong listener instead of a talker. I love to hear what others have to say! When we take a moment to stop talking over others and start listening to them, imagine how much of a difference we could make in our relationships! Listening makes others feel valued and cared for. It’s refreshing to feel heard!
But wait, isn’t conversation based on talking? I mean, if everyone is listening, there isn’t much conversation going on.
Yes, but imagine a conversation where everyone is talking. Nothing is really going to happen and no one will be heard! Everyone talking leaves no room for progress.
Listening lets your spouse know they are valued and you care.
Here’s a few keys to good, active listening:
I must confess. This is one of my biggest pet peeves! When someone is talking to you (especially your spouse!), LOOK AT THEM! Let them know you have their attention and what they’re saying is being heard! I know we’re all a little guilty of this one!
Now that your eyes are firmly planted on the love of your life, let them know the light is on in your brain and you are processing the words they are saying! This is as simple as a nod or a “mhmm” in agreement. Easy Peasy!
When the talker has finished their thought (only after! No interjections!), repeat back to them what you heard them say. It shows you were paying attention and confirms that you both interpreted their words in the same way.
After they’ve said all they need to say — follow up! Instead of moving straight to your own topic, ask them a little bit more. Engage in sincere conversation with them. It will make them feel oh so VALUED!
And it’s always good practice in conversation to listen to what your spouse has to say about themselves. Refrain from talking about yourself or adding in your own story if you can! Let them be heard! It will make them feel great, and I promise they will probably feel inclined to ask you a little about yourself in return! THEN you get to do some of your own talking!