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Tag Archives: Problem-solving in Relationships

Nov
20

Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life. — Joan Lunden

When we feel we have not been heard, especially if we have tried to talk to someone about our true inner feelings, we can feel frustrated. Sometimes that frustration can develop into anger or resentment directed at those who we think haven’t taken the time to really listen. We wonder if they really care about us at all.

The best cure for those hurt feelings is to find someone who will truly hear us, a supportive listener who will help us talk through our vital issues.

But there is another step that only we can take on our journey to understanding. We must be willing to forgive, to get over the anger and resentment, to let go of the hurt. This may take a fundamental shift in perspective, but it’s worth the effort.

Think about when you felt that someone was not truly listening – maybe it seemed like they were more interested in giving advice than support. Did you catch them at a bad time, when they couldn’t give you the time you needed to fully express yourself? Maybe they thought you were looking for an immediate answer rather than a deeper conversation.

Or maybe they didn’t hear what you were really saying because you weren’t really listening to them. Few of us open important conversations about our feelings directly. If both parties to a conversation don’t start out on the same page, it takes only a few missed verbal cues on either side for the whole effort to end in confusion, misunderstanding and perhaps hurt feelings.

A good listener always asks questions to be sure he or she is understanding what the speaker is saying – both the meaning and the intent. Then the conversation can unfold fully and naturally, and no one will go away unhappy.

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Nov
8

The recently concluded election generated way more heat than light, and not just for the candidates in hotly contested races.

If you feel that disagreements over politics may have done serious damage to a relationship with someone you value… someone you really care about as a human being… a friend or family member who just happened to support the other side, now is the time to put aside the heat and search for the light, together.

The election is behind us, so let it go, especially as we prepare for the upcoming winter holidays — a traditional time for reconciliation before we start a new year.

The hardest part may be reaching across the aisle, so to speak. Start a conversation. Let the other person know that you do value your relationship and you would like to find common ground for it to continue. Ask how he or she is feeling, not about the election, but about how things stand between you now.

And when they tell you, listen in an open and respectful manner, without arguing or disagreeing or imposing your own version of events. You have to be willing to hear and accept some hard truths. Ask questions to make sure you understand not only what your friend is saying, but the deeper meaning behind the words. Be willing to share what is useful and true, but let the rest go.

When you can both truly say you approve the message, you can get your relationship back on track.

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Nov
2

When people feel that they haven’t been heard for a long time, they naturally become frustrated. When they finally find someone who will truly listen, they may want to unload all of their pent-up issues at once.

Such venting can be a good start to a self-healing conversation. But a supportive listener will help a speaker move past a simple airing of grievances or obsession with one topic to deeper understanding.

Psychologists tell us the average person has about 50,000 thoughts per day. So why is it so easy to get stuck on just one?

The human psyche is very good at self-preservation. The more important or potentially painful an issue, the more likely we are to try to keep it isolated from the rest of our thoughts. The irony is that the more we try to avoid an issue, the more we tend to think about avoiding it, so it actually grows as a focus of our attention.

A good place to start bringing perspective to an issue that has taken hold of your thoughts is to refocus the conversation onto the emotions surrounding the thoughts.

When you say someone “made me so angry,” what does that really mean? It has less to do with that other person’s actions – or lack of action — and more to do with your own reactions.

A supportive listener will ask questions to help you explore your feelings about what happened, rather than letting you get stuck on repeated retellings of the incident. A really good listener will restate what he or she thinks you are saying, and working together, you can finally come to an authentic knowledge of your thoughts, your feelings, and yourself.

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Oct
17

Is there anything more frustrating than to be interrupted? In our over-wired world, we can now be interrupted any time, anywhere, for any reason, by a beep or a buzz or a ringtone. Think about the sales clerk who stops ringing up your purchases to answer the phone. Whoever is on the line is obviously way more important than you, standing right in front of her, with your credit card in hand.

Interruptions not only derail our train of thought, but also short-circuit any emotional connections we may be making. We can — and should — turn off our devices to limit electronic intrusions during conversations, so we can give our attention entirely to the people we are talking to right now.

Before aggressive talk-show hosts and hard-charging celebrity CEOs turned conversation into a martial art, not interrupting someone speaking was plain good manners and important if you were to get ahead in the world. Listening to other people means understanding what they are saying, not trying to decide what you are going to say to score gotcha points.

Let the other person finish a thought or a story before jumping in with your own. If you aren’t really listening to them, you don’t have a clue if what you say is appropriate or not. More to the point, you let them know you don’t really care what they are talking about – or what they are about as a person.

If you are really listening, you’ll want to ask questions to make sure you understand what they say. This lets them know you are focused on them, what they think, what they are feeling, who they are. That is a rare and wonderful gift to give, and you might be surprised to discover that really listening can feel as wonderful as being truly heard.

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