Relationships: The Art of Listening

12_0034_Layer 66

In 1974, Dr. Virginia Satir presented the concept of mirroring in her groundbreaking book, “Conjoint Family Therapy.”

In 1975 Dr. Thomas Gordon wrote a best-selling book called “Parent Effectiveness Training.” In the book he taught parents to “active listen,” which means to reflect back to the speaker the feelings and information they are trying to convey.

Mirroring, or active listening, is a powerful tool, but whether or not it works depends upon your intent.

If you are active listening to another with an agenda to get them to see what they are doing wrong, or to get them to listen to you after you listen to them, then your intent in listening is to control. The person you are listening to can easily pick up the energy of control and will get angry or go into resistance. Listening with the intention to control backfires and just creates confusion in communication.

However, active listening from a true desire to understand another’s feelings and point of view can be magical. When you listen to learn and understand, rather than to control, you give the other person a great gift.

We all want to be heard and understood. While it is our responsibility to hear and understand ourselves – our own feelings and needs – and take loving action for ourselves, it also feels wonderful when someone we care about hears and understands us. This is the basis of emotional intimacy.

When I work with couples, I teach them that there are only two healthy ways of dealing with conflict:

1. Move into an intent to learn
2. Speak your truth and lovingly disengage

Moving Into an Intent to Learn

When you really desire to understand another, you move into an intent to learn – both about yourself and about them. Actively listening to the other is a major aspect of learning. When you really want to deeply know another, you listen carefully and mirror back to them what you hear them saying and feeling. It is not a matter of agreeing with them, but of understanding them. It is not about changing them or changing yourself, but about really hearing them and attempting to see the world through their eyes – understanding the good reasons they have for feeling and behaving as they do.

For example:

Your partner: “I’m still angry at you for being late and not calling me when you know I worry about you.”

You: “I hear you saying that it’s really unsetting to you when I don’t call when I’m going to be late. You feel I don’t care about the fact that you worry.”

Your partner: “Right. If you really cared about me, you wouldn’t want me to worry.”

You: “I understand. It hurts your heart when you know that I know you worry and I don’t seem to care about that.”

Partner: “Yes, that’s exactly right. So if you understand this, are you going to start to call me when you are late?”

You: It sounds like you believe that if I understand you, then I will change – that I have no good reasons for not calling, is that right?

This dialogue can go on until it feels complete to both of you.

Your partner may or may not want to hear why you were late without calling, and you need to let go of getting him or her to hear you. That’s the hard part!

Speaking Your Truth and Lovingly Disengaging

There are times when, even if you are open to learning and really want to understand another, the other is just intent on attacking and blaming you. When this is the case, you might want to speak your truth and lovingly disengage. This looks like saying something like: “I’d love to talk with you about this when you stop being angry,” and then walking away, keeping your heart open. This means that you are not withdrawing in anger or blame. You are staying in compassion for yourself and the other person so that when he or she opens, you have no residue because you have taken full responsibility for yourself.

Once the other person is no longer angry and blaming, you might want to again open to learning and active listening to them – with no agenda that he or she listens to you. True listening is an act of giving with no expectation of anything in return. It is a kind and loving way to interact with someone you care about. It is a great gift.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® healing process. Are you are ready to discover real love and intimacy? Learn Inner Bonding now! Click here for a FREE Inner Bonding Course, and visit our website at www.innerbonding.com for more articles and help. Phone Sessions Available. Join the thousands we have already helped and visit us now!

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Dr. Margaret Paul is the author/co-author of numerous best-selling books, including: Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You? Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You?…The Workbook Healing Your Aloneness The Healing Your Aloneness Workbook Inner Bonding Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By My Kids? Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God? Margaret holds a Ph.D. in psychology and is a relationship expert, public speaker, seminar leader, consultant, facilitator, and artist. She has appeared on many radio and TV shows, including the Oprah show. She has successfully worked with thousands of individuals, couples and business relationships and taught classes and seminars for over 42 years. Dr. Paul’s books have been distributed around the world and have been translated into many languages. After practicing traditional psychotherapy for 17 years, Margaret was discouraged by the results – both for her clients and herself. She had spent years trying to heal from her own dysfunctional and abusive background, but found herself still suffering with anxiety and relationship problems. She started to seek a process that works fast, deep, creates permanent change, loving relationships, inner peace, and joy. In 1984, she met and became friends with Dr. Erika Chopich, who had half the Inner Bonding® process, and Margaret had the other half! They have been evolving this incredibly powerful healing process for the last 26 years. Margaret works with individuals and couples throughout the world – on the phone, in workshops and 5-Day Intensives, and with members of Inner Bonding Village at http://www.innerbonding.com. She is able to access spiritual Guidance during her sessions, which enables her to work with people wherever they are in the world. Dr. Margaret has just completed a 12 year project call SelfQuest®, which is a transformational self-healing/conflict resolution software program. SelfQuest® is being donated to prisons and schools and sold to individuals, families, and businesses. You can read about SelfQuest® and see a short video of it at http://selfquest.com. In her spare time, Margaret loves to paint, make pottery, take photos, watch birds, read, ride and play with her horses, and spend time with her children and grandchildren.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *