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  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

Are You Listening to Understand?

Do you sometimes feel like someone isn’t really listening to you when you are talking?

It’s only Wednesday and already I’ve had this discussion more than once with someone just this week!

I thought you might know someone who needs to hear it too.

Because there are people who:

Listen to respond instead of Listening to understand

Did you know someone who does that? It’s almost like the other person is waiting for you to take a breath so they can pounce on your words to give you their own opinion of what you are talking.

They are listening to respond. So when this happens, what do most people do? Well, they might:

  • Shut down

  • Get Mad

  • Argue back

  • Get defensive

  • Quiz the person on what was just said

  • Give the dreaded blank stare

While that might make you feel better, here is what I suggest you do instead:

Tell the Truth

Really. Tell the truth. When you feel like someone is just waiting to respond, say:

“Before I finish with what I was going to say, I want you to know that I’ve noticed something. I feel like you are listening to me but that you are just waiting to say what you want to say instead of listening to what I have to say. I really want to make sure you and I both understand what the other person is saying. Let’s both listen to understand instead of listening just to respond.”

So that may sound corny to you but I promise you it works. Now, in the middle of a heated argument it might not always work, especially if you are using it to criticize the other person. That might send you straight to therapy (not that that is bad or anything).

It’s not a weapon. It’s a tool. When used wisely and sincerely, it can improve your communication.

You know how your mama told you to ask for what you want? Here is your chance to ask for better communication by asking to be really heard instead of just responded to.

It’s a good plan. Don’t you think?

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