by Grant Porteous, LMSW
People come into my office all the time in pretty serious emotional trouble. Often, a part of that trouble has to do with a relationship. And a part of the relationship issue almost always includes a feeling of being disconnected, alone, hurt, shut out, put down, etc.
These are bad feelings to have in a relationship. They don’t lead to anything good. Maybe you can relate, or know someone who can. If so, you’ve likely wondered how to turn things around. But what, if anything, can be done to put caring back in the picture once it leaves?
In a culture almost crazy over information management, where information is said to equal power, and where having the right answer, as often as possible and as quickly as possible is thought to be synonymous with success, how much emphasis do most of us place on how to simply listen?
Let’s face it, from our early years in grade school the lesson most of us learned goes something like, “fastest plus first = right and bright.” Gold stars, anyone? We value being right, and being right before anyone else, before almost anything else. So let me ask you: how well do you think you actually just listen to others in your life?
The easiest way to find out is ask the people who talk to you most often. If you can get an honest answer, you may be surprised. Anyway, regardless of your current listening grade, one of the single most important things you can do for any of your relationships is learn to be a better listener. Here’s a simple formula for building a deeper relationship: intimacy requires emotional trust and safety. Emotional trust and safety occurs almost automatically when we feel heard. That’s because when we feel heard, we feel understood, and it’s really hard not to begin to trust someone who I think understands me.
So, if you really want to do one of the very best things you can for your relationships, listen up!
Can you hear me?