There are three basic components of every good listener:
1. Good listeners know, and act on, their limitations.
Knowing our limitations is the work of learning our own stories and the makeup of who we are. When we know ourselves, we can plan around and sometimes prevent situations from occurring that will hurt, trigger, or harm someone we care about.
2. Good listeners ask plenty of questions.
The basis for every relationship is built on the foundation of curiosity. If we are not curious people, we will not get to know them. Asking questions is a simple way to make sure that you’re seeking to understand what the people you care about are attempting to communicate.
3. Good listeners act as recording devices.
Finally, if we want to become better listeners, we must develop and fine tune a third ear. The third ear is the one that listens to what is being said and what is not being said. Replaying what you hear someone tell you is a great way to clarify what’s being communicated. This might sound something like, “What I’m hearing you say is that you feel disrespected when I ignore you. Is that right?”
When we listen and play back what we’re hearing, we’re show the people we love that we are truly interested in hearing what they have to say. We must try harder to hear what people are actually saying, not only what we want to hear them saying.
The holy grail of listening is this: To know your own story and the story of the one you’re with. This includes limitations, gifts, abilities, and more. Pay attention to nonverbal cues, and ask questions when you feel the temptation to make assumptions.
Try being more curious about someone you interact with today. Whether you’re single, dating, or married, this type of active listening will help all of your relationships tremendously. Good listeners make for great partners in life — why not become one?
Samuel is a licensed counselor, therapist, coach, author, and teacher who serves as the Clinical Director of Sage Hill Counseling Brentwood. In couples work, he helps to identify negative patterns of relating and help to construct new relational styles built upon honesty and vulnerability. To schedule a couple’s session with Samuel, email firstname.lastname@example.org.