The Importance of Listening in Relationships

Expert Author Susan Leigh
Many people feel unheard, unlistened to by others. Life is often so very busy, with people in a constant rush to get things done, that they barely have time to communicate properly with each other. Families are often in a hurry in the mornings, then they all come home at different times in the evenings. Business people regularly rush from one meeting and then on to the next appointment. Life is often lived at a fast pace with little time to share connecting with each other.
Listening to what people have to say is a valuable commitment to each other. It also demonstrates a respectful commitment to the relationship that the people concerned would like to build and share with each other.
In families, listening is about discovering what is going on in each other's lives, what is happening, are there any worries or concerns that need attention. Often families take their relationships for granted, they live together, and that is good enough. But this arrangement can end up becoming a house share rather than a family. Many people find that communications in families typically result in being a run through of their day's activities, or are updates of what is needed to be done by way of jobs and messages. Very little real communication takes place. Making time to listen to what each other has to say about feelings, concerns and their lives is an important way of remedying that situation.
In business, often people are keen to impress each other and show how capable and skilled they are. They may feel that showing off and talking a lot is a good way of being noticed, but sometimes it can have the opposite effect to the one desired. Listening first can be a sensible part of discovering what is actually wanted and needed, rather than making quick or hasty snap judgments and then finding out that the wrong conclusions have led to careless errors being made.
First interviews are often important times for listening and learning. This is often the time that the client, customer, potential employee discusses what they want to achieve from the relationship. Listening at these meetings can be far more valuable than talking and can enable the other person to say more than they had perhaps intended to say. People respond to being listened to. They relax and find their voice.
Silence is often an important part of listening. When there is a question the ensuing silence gives the person time to collect and compose their thoughts before they speak. Some people may have become so used to having others jump in and answer on their behalf that they may have lost their confidence in finding the answers themselves. Remaining silent and waiting for someone in this position to speak for themselves is extremely important. At first they may remain mute because over time they have lost the ability to formulate their thoughts. Other people may babble and say anything out of embarrassment. This situation changes as over time the person grows in confidence and becomes more composed and eloquent.
- enables a person to feel valued and respected. Their thoughts, wishes and opinions matter and deserve listening to.
- is an important way to gather information. Each person taking turns to be silent and stop speaking allows the other person to say what is going on with them, what they know and feel needs to be said. New information can come out at these times.
- allows the speaker to grow in confidence. When listened to, a person starts to feel more confident about the relationship and trust it more.
- allows a sharing of ideas to evolve and develop into a clearer, better result. Two people sharing, debating, arguing ideas and thoughts enable a genuine conversation and discussion to occur.


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