Listen From The Heart To Understand
By Kathleen Todd
The skill of Listen from the Heart to Understand is one of the Basics of Mindful Loving. This skill is about listening mindfully from your heart – not just your head. When you listen mindfully, you listen fully, with love, care, and interest. It is about listening with the sincere intent to hear and understand what your partner is saying.
The key to Listen from the Heart to Understand is that you put your own reactions and responses aside so you can really hear what your partner has to say. Most of the time, people are thinking about what they are going to say and preparing their response before the speaker is even finished talking. When you are thinking about your response, you limit your ability to fully listen.
When you listen from your heart, you enhance your ability to focus on your partner. It’s a little bit like putting yourself in your partner’s shoes in order to understand exactly what’s going on. This skill gets out of your head and helps you imagine and understand your partner’s experience. Listen from the Heart to Understand decreases the risk of judging or editing what your partner is saying.
In addition to listening, it is important to believe what your partner is saying. All too often people discount what someone is saying because they think they know better or already know the story. Not listening to understand and believing your own story instead of believing your partner is disrespectful and can be dangerous. When your partner is telling you something, believe what they are saying, not what you believe! Believing what your partner is saying decrease assumptions and increases acceptance.
The skill of Listening from the Heart to Understand builds trust in the relationship.
When you listen from your heart, you learn to suspend your own story and reactions. The result is that you are more engaged and better connected with your partner.
The following is an example of Listen from the Heart to Understand.
Marci was telling James about an upsetting experience she had with a co-worker. Although he had heard lots of stories about Marci’s stress at work, this time he decided to practice the skill of Listen from the Heart to Understand.
He took some deep breaths and focused on Marci and what she was saying. As he listened, he had to keep check on his old reaction of either tuning out or wanting to give her advice about what she should do. He tried to imagine what the experience must have been like for Marci. Instead of giving her advice like he usually did, he felt more connected to her and realized that the experience must have been awful for her. He gave her a hug and told her he was sorry that she had such a difficult experience. Marci thanked him for listening and told him how much she appreciated him.
Practice the skill, Listen with the Heart to Understand.
- Schedule time with your partner to practice the skill, Listen from the Heart to Understand.
- Your partner agrees to tell you something he or she wants to share with you.
- Take some deep breaths and remind yourself that you want to listen and hear what your partner is saying.
- Remove any of your thoughts, judgments, or advice that may be bouncing around in your head.
- Focus on understanding and believing your partner’s experience.
- Share what you heard your partner say and check to make sure you heard correctly.
Make a habit of using the skill, Listen from the Heart to Understand when your partner is talking. It is a valuable skill to use in all of your relationships because it builds greater understanding, intimacy, and trust.
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