Ask Dr. Reba- How to Improve Your Listening Skills

By Dr. Reba Haley

Often when individuals communicate, they do not listen to what the other person is saying because they are so busy thinking about what they are going to say to defend themselves or respond.  Listening is one of the most important skills that a person can have.

How well an individual listens has an impact on their marriage, job and quality of their relationship with others.  Active listening is a process and necessary for understanding.  We listen to understand and good listening is listening with the intent to understand.

Effective listeners maintain eye contact, and understand that their mate’s non-verbal communication is as important as verbal. Maybe your mate sits back and lets you do all the talking without contributing.

Let’s assume you encourage your mate to talk, but he or she is afraid to share with you that he or she really does not grasp or understand what you are saying.

To improve or maintain a better marriage, couples should focus on improving their listening skills and develop conflict management strategies.

To enhance your listening skills, you need to let the other person know that what he or she has to say is important and that they have your undivided attention. This means turn off the television and telephone.

Try sitting down at the dinner table without turning on the television and talking on the telephone. Turn on some soft music and spend time together listening and sharing your love, admiration and respect for each other.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1: 19 NIV)