Executive Contributor | Stan & Francesca Levine | Relationships
If you love someone and want him/her to feel loved, then you need to give that person your attention.
What does that mean? It’s unlikely that you could give anyone attention 100% of the time – but if you want your intimate adult relationship (or, indeed ANY relationship) to grow and thrive, the relationship requires priority much of the time.
Attention is not just about being physically present – indeed, you could be physically absent – it’s also about connecting at other different levels, such as emotional, mental and spiritual.
What all these connectors have in common is a willingness to listen to your partner, wholeheartedly. Connected listening means no interruptions, arguments, denials; it means you listen not only with your ears but also with your heart so that you can express understanding, offering compassion, validation and empathy EVEN IF YOU DON’T AGREE.
Most people listen with intention to respond, whereas if one listens with the intention to understand, there is the opportunity to learn about the speaker and to begin to recognise the impact of your behaviours on the speaker.
Listening is the foundation of good communication. When someone truly listens to you with undivided attention, it’s a really validating experience and very powerful. It indicates a genuine desire to connect.
When you really are present and listen, that means that your mind doesn’t wander off to other things in your life – your work, your aches & pains, other commitments, appointments etc. Your whole focus is on the person speaking & what he/she is saying.
Often, when we do listen, we have thoughts and feelings about what is being said – sometimes very negative, dismissive or rejecting thoughts, denials and angry feelings. When we do that, it means we are listening to ourselves instead of the speaker. That effect can be minimised by the speaker if he/she is just sharing his/her own stuff, without blaming, shaming or criticising the listener.
The safest and most effective way to achieve that is to use the Imago Couples Dialogue, which is a brilliant tool that Francesca and Stan from the Relationship Rescue Institute, in Melbourne, Australia, teach their clients.
We invite you to listen with love – that means it’s not just about you – it’s also about the other person in the conversation. Such listening is also a great sign of respect.