Listening Skills In Relationships: Do You Talk Or Listen?

​​​​​Listening Skills In Relationships: Do You Talk Or Listen?

​One big complaint in many relationships is that one person does more talking than the other.

​(Note: If you recognize this, and think that it's the woman who usually does most of the talking, then read on!).

If this dynamic is present, no matter who does most of the talking, ​it can ​be annoying. Over time a significant imbalance in the talking and listening dynamic can (and often does) kill a relationship.​

​​​Over time a significant imbalance in the talking and listening dynamic can (and often does) kill a relationship.​

​​All of us ​regardless of gender, wants to ​feel heard and understood. ​This simply cannot happen if one person ​is doing all the talking and ​very little of the listening.

A simple mistake many people make is ​mistaking
hearing for listening. This is where good listening skills in a relationship come into play.

Hearing is the ​act of ​allowing the sound waves from your partner's mouth to enter into your ears. It is a physical act. Ideally once this happens these sound waves will also be transferred into information in your head.

In contrast to hearing, listening is the mental act of ​hearing, understanding and processed the information you receive in a conversation.

An example of this is if your partner ​says that he or she hates cheese and you suggest Mexican food for dinner, ​then either: ​

  • you aren't familiar with Mexican ​food, or more likely
  • you didn't listen to what ​your partner was saying.

​​​Listening Skill #1: Give Your Partner Time To Speak

​One important and very simple listening skill is giving ​your partner time to speak. 

Many ​men and women, ​even with good intentions, interrupt their partners or talk over the top over the top of ​them. This is always a negative experience for the person talking!

​Avoiding talking over your partner allows him or her to get out what they are truly thinking or feeling. Even if ​your partner is taking longer to say something than you think that he or she should, good listening skills dictate that you should let him or her finish. Often they will not get to the point until right at the end of the conversation-and you need to wait to that point!

Giving your partner time to speak also applies ​even if you think that what your ​partner is ​saying is just totally wrong. It is worth remembering that in relationships there is no absolute right or wrong-both people will have valid perspectives on the issue that you are discussing.

​If you respect ​your partner and care about him or her, you will always give ​them the time ​they need to say what they need to say.

​​​In relationships there is no absolute right or wrong-both people will have valid perspectives on the issue that you are discussing.

All men aren't the same and all women aren't the same

​​As individuals, we are all different. All men aren't the same and all women aren't the same.

Some men for example, ​process ​information or thoughts faster than other men. The same applies to women. There is no gender ​specificity in this. ​

​Interestingly, ​even though most people​ think that women talk more than men, ​recent research ​conducted by Dr. Matthias Mehl, an Associate Professor ​from the University of Arizona, found that ​regardless of gender, we all speak about the same number of words per day.

​While this conclusion may be surprising to some, the ​summary statement of the ​researchers ​is very interesting:

​"On average, women speak 16,215 words per day and men speak 15,669 words per day" according to Dr. Mehl. However, Dr. Mehl ​adds that the mean number of words does not describe this distribution well.

"In fact" he says, ​"the distribution for this study was huge. One person used an estimated 795 words on average per day, while another used almost 47,000 words" (both the least and the most talkative participant were men).

However, according to Dr. Mehl, the distributions were normal for both sexes and averaged out to have no statistical difference.

​​​​​​​On average, women speak 16,215 words per day and men speak 15,669 words per day.

​​​​​Good Communication Skills

​​No matter how difficult the ​problem seems, good communication skills ​can resolve or eliminate most problems in a relationship​.

​Despite how many people act however, good communication skills don't start with knowing what to say. Instead good listening skills are always the key to good communication skills.

As many people observe, our bodies we have two eyes, two nostrils, two ears and one mouth. Good communicators listen twice as much as they speak and speak only after they've considered what they are going to say.

As you practice good communication with your partner, it is ​good to think about your level of honesty with your partner. It is easy to leave little details out of stories you are telling your partner, or to omit anything that reflects poorly on yourself.

​​​As many people observe, our bodies we have two eyes, two nostrils, two ears and one mouth. Good communicators listen twice as much as they speak and speak only after they've considered what they are going to say.

​Unfortunately, little lies in a relationship often turn into bigger lies. When those lies are exposed your partner begins to wonder how he or she can trust anything that you have ever said.

It might be frightening, but it is bonding to practice openness, vulnerability and honesty with your partner, always.

When you do this, more often than not your partner will be honoured that your trusted him or her with your secrets, and the levels of trust, intimacy and connection will build in your relationship.

Listening Skill #2: ​Practice ​Open Body Language

​​A second and important listening skill is to be ​aware of your ​non-verbal communication and body language. A large percentage of what ​you are thinking and feeling will be communicated through your body language, including the way t​hat you stand, sit and look as you listen to your partner.

For example, ​are ​your arms crossed, eyes averted or ​your body turned away from your partner as he or she is speaking to you? If any of this is true it is likely that your partner will perceive that you are not truly interested in what he or she is saying.

​​While you are paying attention to your body language, also pay attention to the amount that you are talking (rather than listening).

​​​​​Good listeners ​ask questions rather than challenging your partner about what they are saying. These questions include asking your partner what they are thinking or feeling.

Good listeners ​ask questions rather than challenging your partner about what they are saying. These questions include asking your partner what they are thinking or feeling.

For example, instead of telling your partner that he or she looks ​​angry (for example), ask him or her about ​their thoughts. ​Once you have done this ​wait for their answer. Don't jump in. ​It is OK (and even good!) to allow silence until ​they answer.

Good listening skills ​are crucial to any relationship. Listening is ​usually far more important than talking. Practice listening to your partner and ​being totally ​present in ​the conversation. 

You can't always ​do this, ​but, if you are never present ​for your partner, ​then your relationship is likely to struggle.

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