How many times has one of your partners accused you of not listening to what they’re saying?
Or maybe it’s the other way around. After explaining something to your partner six times, you finally blurted out, “You’re not listening!”
Polyamory requires great communication skills. All relationships benefit from clear and deep communication, but polyamory often means there is more going on, so it is even more essential. And while we hear lots about how to speak up or the importance of being honest, listening is arguably the most important skill of all.
While good listening is always important—in business, politics, family life, and beyond—love and sex are central to everything. Listening is absolutely essential for better sex and harmony with your partners.
Let me share with you the key benefits of listening, and how to be a great listener.
Benefits of Listening to Your Partner
- doesn’t have to make assumptions about what their partner wants or needs.
- doesn’t have to take everything personally, because they will be privy to the whole spectrum of influences in their partner’s life.
- will be better equipped to help solve problems or fix snafus.
- will benefit from context and background.
- will better understand the feelings and personality of the person they are hearing, not just the surface events.
- can better empathize.
- can better protect themselves from negative emotions, outbursts, or lies because they are in tune with what’s really going on.
- can connect more intimately with others.
- has better timing for his or her own actions.
- has better sex and more dating success.
- has fewer conflicts.
- knows that listening carefully improves his chances of being heard when it’s his turn.
How to Be a Better Listener
Know the difference between hearing and listening.
Focus on what your partner is saying, not on what you need to pick up for dinner or what your take on the subject is. You might be hearing the sound of your partner’s voice, but are you listening to the words and comprehending their meaning?
Don’t become defensive.
Too many times, we are preparing our rebuttal rather than simply allowing our partner the space to speak. The path to solving a communication breakdown has to two run both ways.
Stay focused on what you are hearing.
When your mind wanders, consciously return to be present in the conversation. This takes practice, but practicing works. The more you do it, the more you will find conscious listening second nature and become a better listener.
Your mind may run elsewhere, or conjure up inflammatory remarks if it’s a heated argument. Make it stop, and return to what your partner is saying. If you got lost, get into the habit of asking them to repeat what they said when you lost focus to get back on track.
Put your partner’s needs first.
In a balanced relationship, you’ll have your turn. The best way of ensuring a fair shot for yourself is to stand back when it’s someone’s turn and really prioritize their needs. Give them the space and time required to really be heard.
The best way to focus on what someone is saying—avoid being defensive, and put off your own rebuttal or perspective on things—is to ask questions. This is something you can practice too. If you haven’t really absorbed or taken in what they are saying, you won’t have any questions. Ask questions, even if you think you know the answer! Be a better listener and give them the opportunity to put it into their own words.
How would you rate your listening skills? Please share in the comments!