I would like to make the statement that each and every one of us, has within us a very deep and powerful need to be heard.
The definitions for “heard” given by Thefreedictionary.com include; “to learn by hearing” and “to listen attentively” and I think this about sums it up. We as human beings have the need to share our lives with one another and with that, the need for someone who wants to share our lives, who wants to learn more about who we are by listening attentively to us…
Dr Gary Smalley mentions in his book: “Die Geheim van Suksesvolle Verhoudings”, we have been created to stand in relationships with other people – we were made for relationships. So why are so many relationships, so completely messed up? Why is it that two people just can't seem to get to a place where both feel safe and loved and where communication is a healthy and effective interaction between them? My opinion – maybe it has to do with the fact that we very seldom feel heard…the fact that, for most of us, to truly hear our partner is a very difficult task indeed.
You might be thinking to yourself – there is very little wrong with my hearing, I can hear him/her just fine and still we are in a bad spot! In response; I would like to ask – how many times have you said to your partner – you're not hearing me/ you aren't listening! How many times have you felt that what you are saying is totally missed by you better half? That he/she focuses on one or two words/phrases in what you've said and totally misses your point..you see? it's not about; can you hear one another, it's about how you listen and what you're focus is on when listening to one another…
The reason why we so totally miss what our partners are trying to communicate; is
1.Because we believe that understanding the actual words out of his/her mouth is all that's important.
Let's look at what Thefreedictionary.com has to say about the word attentive:
“Giving care/attention; expressing affectionate interest through close observation and gallant gestures; marked by or offering of devoted attention to the pleasure or comfort of others…”
I guarantee that if you were to sit closer and pay devoted attention with “comfort” or “pleasure” as your goal when listening to your partner – chances are, you'll hear way more than just the actual words exiting his/her mouth. If we have, as our mission – comfort and/or pleasure as a contribution to give to the person we love, we'll focus on the meaning of his/her words. We'll focus on the emotions underlying the phrases; we'll search for the hidden, maybe unexpressed meaning behind what is being said.
In order to truly comfort someone, we need to acknowledge the pain, the hurt, the frustration that they are experiencing. In order to be a pleasure to talk to, we need to engage in the conversation, we need to share the joy or the excitement…all of which is very hard to do if you are only focusing on words alone.
2.Because the way in which he/she starts the communication is perceived as threatening and attacking.
It is human nature to protect oneself from an onslaught. So if you're partner starts a conversation by attacking you verbally, automatically you take on a defensive stance with regards to what is being said. You shut closed like a book, and all you focus on is finding a flaw in the attacker's arsenal, finding an easy and effective way in which to launch a brutal attack of your own.
Go ahead – give some thought to the last fight that you had with your partner…how much listening took place…how much understanding…vs how much hurt was being flung back and forth, how many accusations were flying around. Be honest – you started arguing about one thing and in the end the issue that started the fight is buried somewhere underneath all the old cows that were dug up during the battle.
You started arguing about what colour the sofa actually was that you were sitting on when the incident occurred, who was actually there, what someone else's response actually was…it resulted in ” you-never-get-any-thing-right” in “you-always-do-this” or “you-never”…the fight ends up in an all-out, all-encompassing war and the more you can list the other person's faults the better…
But as in all wars, the casualties are plenty. You walk away with so much hurt and regret, this battle is just another add-on to the pile that is forming between the two of you, just another layer of bricks on top of the all-to-high wall forming between the two of you…
If this describes your relationship – if you feel that you are not being heard by your partner; that your conversations too often turn into all-out wars. I suggest that you make an effort YOURSELF, to take this article to heart. Read it again and decide on where you can start BEING THE DIFFERENCE that you want in your life. Take your partner out to dinner and share your concerns in a non-threatening manner – do all you can do to not evoke a defensive reaction.
Make a choice, together to start fresh and to start listening with the intent of actually hearing each other.