One of the topics in the Couple’s Communication class that I teach has to do with Active Listening. It’s call active listening because it requires focused attention on what the other person has to say. Many people spend their time hearing, not listening, and waiting patiently or impatiently for their partner to finish speaking. While their partner is talking, they are thinking about their own ideas, opinions, and what they want to say. They aren’t really listening.
When we focus on restating it becomes clear that they were lost in their own thoughts. They can’t remember what their partner said so they can’t restate it. Try it yourself. You’ll see how much focus it takes to be able to listen to more than a few sentences so that you can repeat it back. Restating is a great tool to help people realize just how little they listen. It forces you to focus on the message.
But there’s something even more important than listening to the words and ideas. It’s about being present for your partner. When your partner is trying to communicate with you, this is a perfect time to show up and be present, and not just in body. Being present is about realizing that there is a living, breathing human being right in front of you, and that you are together at that moment. It’s a form of deep connection based entirely on your full awareness and openness to who and what is before you. Your complete attention and presence will heal and transform your relationships as well as your discussions.