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Having a Hard Time Being Heard by Your Partner?

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Guest Blogger Maggie Baumann, MA:

Having a Hard Time Being Heard by Your Partner?

In my psychotherapy practice, I work with teens and their parents as well as couples with relationship conflicts. When I bring them together for a family session I find they often have trouble listening to each other and feel more comfortable giving advice before they listen.

Advice giving can alarm the defenses and often which follows is bickering and interrupting that bounces back and forth. I found a very successful tool to use with my clients when they bring a loved one into session and they just want to talk and be heard.

It's all about listening and how to do it. Next time you feel unheard by your partner or loved one, this listening rule stated below is quite successful so your words can be heard, even if you have a different perspective on issues with someone else.

This is also useful tip for teens that want to talk to their parents about something important. This is a tool you could share with your whole family.

What I have my clients do before they venture into explaining an hot item issue with a loved one, I have them read aloud in session the following technique on the art of listening:

When I ask you to LISTEN to me
and you start giving advice,
you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to LISTEN to me
and you begin to tell me why I shouldn't feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to LISTEN to me
and you feel you have to do something to solve my
problems, you have failed me - strange as that may seem.

Listen! All I ask is that you listen.
Not talk nor "do" - just hear me.

When you do something for me I can and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and inadequacy.

I can do for myself; I am not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.

But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel (no matter
how irrational the feeling may seem to you), then I quit trying to convince you, and I can move towards the business of understanding what is behind the irrational feeling. And when that is clear, I can try to see for myself the changes I need to make in my life and I don't need advice.

Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what's behind them.

Try this next time you want to be heard. Active listening is a learned behavior.

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4 comments so far | Post a comment now
Perfect Dad March 23, 2011, 11:26 AM

I’ve been told this advice before, but I don’t understand it although I believe it. It seems to be a female-talking-male-not-listening oriented suggestion, because traditionally the males solve problems while females share feelings. I’ve always wanted to know: Why doesn’t the woman want to solve the problem?

MomOf4 March 23, 2011, 12:24 PM

I think this is so simple yet so meaningful. Thank you for posting.

VSG March 23, 2011, 1:22 PM

Works if you read it from a kid’s perspective too. Thanks.

Anonymous March 24, 2011, 7:43 AM

Looks like someone didn’t read the article. Where exactly does it say that the people this advice is given to are specifically male/female? This advice is for everyone regardless of gender and age. What it did do, it seems, is set off someone’s defences.

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