5 Tips for the LISTENING Partner in Tough Conversations

Last week there were 5 Tips for the SPEAKING partner. To review:
1. Decide the topic
2. Make the decision to bring up the topic
3. Get clear on the point to make
4. Get clear on why you want to discuss the topic
5. Know what you are trying to achieve

This time, the focus is on the Listener.
Of course, once the Speaker speaks and the Listener listens, then they trade roles, since it’s a conversation between two people.

1. Listen for understanding, not for rebuttal. And not to fix the problem.

Make sure to give the speaker your undivided, full attention. So many people listen to only a few words, think they know what their partner is going to say, and start formulating a rebuttal in their heads, failing to listen to what their partner is saying.

This kind of listening (which is not really listening) leads you to miss details such as body language, expressed or implied emotion, and a host of other non-verbal cues to their partner’s message.

2. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes as you listen.

Think to yourself what meaning your partner is conveying. Listening with compassion, rather than defensiveness, is truly listening. Do you hear value in what your partner is saying? Can you see why your partner might have the feelings that they have?

3. Notice your own reactions to what is being said.

Do you agree or disagree? Do you feel defensive? Do you feel blamed even if your partner isn’t saying it’s your fault? Do you feel scolded, disrespected, put down? Are you thinking that your partner is a complainer (this is a defensive thought) so you don’t need to listen to what he or she is saying?

4. Summarize what your partner said, including any feelings that were spoken or that you picked up on. Then check with your partner: “Did I get everything?”

5. Craft an answer.

  • First, reflect on what you have heard, with compassion, and what your position is on this subject
  • Then, go through Tips 1-5 for the Speaker.
  • Finally, say your answer while your partner listens carefully.

This is a brief outline of how partners engage in Masterful Communication. Try following the TIPS and see if your communication improves.

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With love,

PS: For support in communication with your partner, contact me at: or my office phone: 206-441-3121. Private Couples Breakthrough Coaching is available via phone. Also, look for my online course for couples, coming soon!

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