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Are you struggling to really listen to your loved ones? Trying to connect with those closest to you can often be a struggle, as we can sometimes feel disconnected and struggle to open up and really understand each other. In order to build meaningful relationships, it’s important to be able to really listen to your loved ones, to understand what they are saying, and to feel and share their emotions. Here are five common reasons why many of us can find it difficult to really listen to our loved ones.
1. Uncovering the roots of communication breakdown
The first step in understanding why it can be difficult to really listen to your loved ones is to uncover the roots of the communication breakdown. If we have grown up in an environment where we do not feel understood, or where communication was not valued, it can be hard to break out of that habit and really open ourselves up to understanding others. We can also fail to listen to our loved ones if we are always trying to get our point across and rarely take the time to just listen and truly understand what the other person is saying. By taking a step back and understanding the underlying cause of our inability to listen, we can start to make progress towards better communication.
2. How to start actively listening to your loved ones
Once we have understood why it can be difficult to listen to our loved ones, we can start to make changes and work on actively listening to them. This means being present in the conversation, focusing on one person at a time, and really taking in what they are saying. It also means that we need to be aware of our own body language and avoid distracting ourselves by looking at our phones or daydreaming. We should also try to stay focused and avoid interrupting or dismissing the person who is speaking.
3. Overcoming the barriers to understanding and empathy
Understanding and empathy are key components of listening to your loved ones. In order to truly listen to them, we need to be able to put ourselves in their shoes and really appreciate their point of view. We should also be open to being challenged and to seeing things from a different perspective. This can be difficult if we are used to being right or if we have a fixed view of the world. By being open and willing to be vulnerable and share our own feelings, we can start to create a space where understanding and empathy can flourish.
4. Learning to accept and validate others’ emotions
Being able to accept and validate others’ emotions is an important part of listening to our loved ones. We need to be able to accept that we are all wired differently and to have empathy for the feelings of others. Even if we do not agree with the feelings that they are expressing, we can still validate them and recognise them as valid and important. We should also avoid making judgements and try to just listen without passing judgement or trying to fix the problem.
5. Rediscovering meaningful connection and relationships
Finally, by really listening to our loved ones, we can rediscover meaningful connection and relationships with those around us. When we open up and really listen to those we care about, we create a space of trust and understanding which can open the door to more meaningful conversations and deeper connections. By taking the time to really listen to our loved ones, we can create a space of understanding and connection which will be beneficial to all parties.
Listening to our loved ones doesn’t have to be a struggle. By understanding the roots of the communication breakdown, actively listening, overcoming the barriers to understanding and empathy, accepting and validating others’ emotions, and rediscovering meaningful connections, we can start to create a space where we can truly listen to those we care about and build meaningful relationships.
- Miller, Lynn. The Art of Listening: 7 Principles for Cultivating Relationships Through Listening. Well Being Journal, 2017.
- Kampf, Benjamin. The Neuroscience of Listening: Why it Matters and How to Do it Right. Neuroscience News, 2019.
- Frank, Carla. The Power of Emotional Validation. Psychology Today, 2020.