In relationships it is important to be non-reactive when you listen. Most of the time when people express their problems to another individual, the other person reacts with … “Well, you didn’t do this, and you didn’t do that”. It becomes ‘tit for tat’ with a long laundry list, an invisible score card seeps out. That original hurt gets swept under the carpet and is buried, and never gets addressed because you get caught up in the emotional drama.
This is where reflective listening tools from Harville Hendrix’s Book, ‘Getting the Love You Want’ is so effective. My wife, Caryl and I have taken a couple of workshops with Harville Hendrix’s trained therapists about Reflective Listening, how to stay non-reactive.
People get upset about some action. The other person may have done something on the surface that pushed a button that goes back to an unfulfilled emotional, physical, spiritual need from their childhood. They are all legitimate emotional concerns, ones that still follow us. People inadvertently bump into those invisible buttons. So, if we realize we all have buttons and pains, can we put the needs of our partners, of others first, and try to be available for them? Can we help them work through their stuff instead of looking at – “How come it is not me?”
It will be your turn. But, what I have found is if you give first, you will receive so much more back then you would have ever thought was possible. An example of reflective listening would be: “So, I heard you were hurt by this”. “Did I get that right?” Affirm whether you heard correctly. If not, then say, “Tell me more about that.” “How did that make you feel?” Ask, “Have you ever felt that way before?” That question is one of the deeper questions.
You can help your partner walk back into their life to identify where that emotional pain came from. It comes down to availability, wanting to be there. Put the needs of someone else first, knowing that when you do that, they will be more apt to put your needs first and give you back what you need. When you have both people trying to make each other happy then that is an incredible experience. Emphasize service, and serving others first.
Even from a business strategy, if you are trying to differentiate yourself in business, making yourself available and listening is smart business practice. In business, think about the customer service aspects. Look at the complaint, as a gift! Most people are not going to complain, they will go someplace else. If someone complains to you, they are telling you how to be loved. If you fix the problem, they will probably come back and buy more from you. Look at the positioning. If you can be more available, and put the needs of your clients first and solve their problems, they are more likely to stay with you.
Look deep down, everyone is looking for attention. If you watch the dynamics of your family, you can observe their needs. Years ago I did a Go-Giver mastermind on ‘The Go-Giver’, written by Bob Burg and John David Mann, a great book on understanding on how to shift your focus from Getting to Giving. In one of our lessons, one of the women in the group had a poisonous relationship with her brother-in-law for 20 years. They were butting their heads. This woman had a big personality. She was in constant conflict with her brother-in-law. Both of them were striving to get the attention, to be validated and recognized that they didn’t see that they were doing the exact same thing – love me, love me, appreciate me, notice me.
So, they are in so much conflict, butting heads for years, when her sister/his wife is diagnosed with stage 4 Breast Cancer. Neither one of them could be available together to care for her during that treatment time. So, during this mastermind group we made her aware of it, and she started to put the needs of her brother-in-law first and started listening to him. All of a sudden he is listening to her and calling her. It only took 1 or 2 instances when he finally felt validated and heard by her, and the wall came down. They both became available to help her during this difficult time.
You can shift that behavior. You have to look at – Are you listening to listen, or are you listening for an opportunity to speak? If people are always pushing in, to be heard that just goes back to that basic need of validation. Everyone is looking for it. It needs to be taught. It is not taught in schools. It is not taught in many or even any of our family culture because they didn’t do it. They probably never felt heard by their parents or their families. We need to learn new skills to go in, and touch the world as coaches and leaders. With the presence we are taking on social media, how can we provide it in our business, in our coaching to make an emphasis on developing listening skills?
“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Read ‘What Are The Most Precious Gifts We Can Offer? Part 2’ in the series.
This article was originally posted in Bellésprit magazine. The magazine content features topics of inspiration, guidance, personal experiences, and spirit messages all leading our diamond in the rough to healing and growing into the best ‘diamond’ we were meant to be. Be sure to subscribe to Bellésprit Magazine, a wealth of information.