Relationship Advice: 7 Secrets to Being a Better Listener for Your Partner

December 9, 2015 by

“You never listen to me!” Is this a common complaint you hear from your partner? Or one that you frequently level at them? We want to believe we are good listeners in a relationship, but listening isn’t always an innate ability.

Communication is a key component in any relationship, but communicating with your partner involves listening just as much as it involves speaking. We need to be able to talk to our partner, but we also need to be attentive and considerate of what they are actually saying.

Here’s the good news: listening is a skill. And just like any other skill, listening can be honed and practiced. Be a better listener and your relationship will be all the better for it. If you’d like to improve your listening skills for your partner and your relationship, check out these 7 secrets.

  1. Listen more, talk less. When someone is talking, we’re often already thinking of what we’re going to say next. In doing this, we aren’t being good listeners. As the saying goes, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. So when your partner is speaking, forget about what you’re going to say, and focus on what your partner is saying.
  2. Ask connected questions. If you’re actively listening to your partner, you should be able to ask them follow-up questions based on what they just said. If you ask your partner a question, listen to their answer and then ask questions based on that answer.
  3. Don’t judge your partner. When anyone else is talking, it’s easy to pass judgment on what you’re hearing. But your role as a listener is not to be judgmental. It’s to be unbiased and simply listen.
  4. Don’t compare your experiences. Being empathetic is one thing, but comparing someone else’s experience to your own can be insensitive or offensive. Of course you want to be supportive and understanding toward your partner, and you may have some important words of wisdom to share. Delving into your own story, though – especially if it’s trivial in comparison – can be upsetting to your partner.
  5. Don’t jump in with a solution. If your partner comes home from work and tells you about a problem with their boss, don’t necessarily try to help right away. Just because your partner is telling you something doesn’t mean they always want you to weigh in. Sometimes your partner just wants to vent or make you aware of what’s going on. If your partner asks for your help, though, go for it.
  6. Empathize. Show your partner you’re listening to them and that you care by rephrasing or “echoing” what they have said. Doing this demonstrates that you are paying attention and listening.
  7. Don’t interrupt. Sometimes this one is tough, but fight the urge to interrupt your partner while they’re talking. Interrupting someone can feel rude and dismissive, which can imply that you’re not listening and don’t care about what they’re saying. Be patient. Listen to what they have to say. Then take your turn in the conversation.

As you can see, listening is an active process. It’s not just sitting silently and staring at your partner. It involves genuine interest and concern for both your partner and what they have to say.

So take these 7 secrets to being a better listener home to your partner and practice, practice, practice. And if you need relationship advice about how to be a better listener, contact a Portland marriage counselor today.