More than ever I am challenged when it comes to actively listening to someone, especially loved ones like Daniel. I am better at it in the professional world, but would like to work on it in my personal life. For example, when Daniel comes home from work, I am usually doing a task, busy on the computer, or thinking about something. He’ll walk through the door, I’ll look up, we say hello and smile, give each other a quick kiss, and then one of us will begin talking (usually non-stop about a “priority” topic). Kudos to Daniel, I believe he is a better active listener than I am. Whereas for me, when he is speaking, I admit (and he calls me out on it) that I am not fully listening to him. The truth is, I would love to, but all these other “barriers” (as mentioned earlier) are in my way! So what happens is I pick up pieces of what he’s saying, respond as best I can, and call it a conversation. My challenge about active listening is that I actually have to be listening! This includes 110% listening; 110% attention; eye contact; facial expressions; and periodic meaningful responses (paraphrasing; re-stating, feedback, etc.). This is very hard to do (as you can imagine) when I am distracted or am preparing for a response before he’s completed his thought. I know what to do and just need to do it given that it’s not healthy for our marriage if he does not feel heard or respected when he is sharing his thoughts and feelings.
What are your challenges and/or tips to active listening?