When your partner is talking, do you listen to what they are saying?

Or do you zone out, plan what you will say next or think about what chores you need to do?

While it may sound like a simple thing to do, the ability to listen to your partner well will make a huge difference to the strength of your relationship.

While it may sound like a simple thing to do, the ability to listen to your partner well will make a huge difference to the strength of your relationship.

In today's relationship tip, you will learn what active listening is and how to do it!

Let's begin!

What Is Active Listening?

Active listening is a way of listening to your partner that involves fully concentrating on what they are saying.

Active listening is also is a way of trying to understand the thoughts and feelings that are "beneath the surface" of what your partner is saying.

Active listening is a way of trying to understand the thoughts and feelings that are "beneath the surface" of what your partner is saying.

To actively listen well it is important to want to listen to your partner. If you are not interested in what your partner is saying, this will come across to your partner.

You will also need to avoid the 10 most common mistakes of listeners, which I will talk about in a later tip.

Active Listening: The Four Key Skills

There are four key skills that you need to use to actively listen to your partner well. These are:

-Using minimal encouragers

-Asking questions

-Summarising (or "Reflecting"), and

-Giving positive feedback

1) Using Minimal Encouragers

A minimal encourager is a short response to your partner that indicate you are listening to them. Minimal encouragers may be verbal (including words such as "uh-huh" or "mmm") or non-verbal (nodding, smiling etc).

Using a minimal encourager assures your partner that you are listening to them while avoiding interrupting them or taking over the flow of the conversation. Both parts are important in maintaining good listening.

A minimal encourager is a short response to your partner that indicate you are listening to them.

Although many people use minimal encouragers unconsciously, it is worth checking that you are using minimal encouragers frequently enough.

If your partner stops talking, or questions if you are still listening to them this may be a sign that you are not encouraging your partner to talk enough.

2) Asking Questions

A second important skill to actively listen to your partner well is to ask questions.

As easy as this sounds, many people struggle with asking their partner questions. This is because they assume they know what their partner will say or why they are saying it. The problem with this assumption is that it is almost always wrong!

Many people struggle with asking their partner questions.

When asking your partner questions about what they are saying, try to ask as many "open questions" as possible.

Open questions are questions that can't be answered with a "Yes" or "No" answer. Open questions allow your partner to explain what they are thinking and feeling fully.

Some examples of open questions include:

-What did you do today?

-How are you feeling?

-What are you thinking about?, or

-What would you like to do tonight?

3) Summarising (or "Reflecting")

The third key skill of active listening to your partner is summarising (or "reflecting") what your partner has said.

Summarising involves restating in your own words what your partner has said to you.

Summarising involves restating in your own words what your partner has said to you.

When summarising, try to emphasise the main points that your partner is talking about and be as accurate as possible. You should also avoid using your own words too much, but it is OK if the summary sounds slightly different from what your partner said.

Summarising is important because it lets your partner know that you accurately understand what they are saying, and shows them that you value their thoughts and feelings.

4) Giving Positive Feedback

The final key skill of active listening to your partner is giving positive feedback to them.

Positive feedback is any way of letting your partner know that you have appreciated what they have said and that you value their thoughts and feelings.

Positive feedback is any way of letting your partner know that you have appreciated what they have said and that you value their thoughts and feelings.

For example, you could give your partner a hug, smile at them or put your hand on their knee. Or you could say things such as:

-I think you handled that situation well!

-You were brave to share that with me. Thank you for letting me in.

-You are so clever! I would never have thought of doing that in the same situation!

These statements are positive and are likely to leave your partner feeling good about talking with you. This will make it more likely that your partner will share things with you in the future!

Conclusion:

The more you actively listen to your partner, the better chance you have of creating a happy and loving relationship.

In today's relationship tip, you have learned what active listening is and the four key skills to listen better to your partner. These skills are:

-using minimal encouragers

-asking questions

-summarising (or "reflecting"), and

-giving positive feedback.

If you want to be a good listener and create a happy relationship, make sure you practice these skills regularly with your partner!

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About The Author:

Alastair Duhs is a relationship expert who has helped over 10,000 couples create a happy, loving and passionate relationship over the last 30 years. He is also a keen triathlete, astronomer and chess player.