We think we do but truth is we do not know how to listen.
Now that we have you listening, hear us out. We often think that listening is as easy as sitting across someone and voila, we’re listening. I’d like to say that’s it but unfortunately, it is not. There is so much more to listening. While there are a lot of things involved to be an effective listener, we will only discuss a few to point us in the right direction as husbands and dads.
First, No Distractions. For obvious reasons, it would be hard to listen well if our attention is divided by a hundred things. The TV is on, we’re thinking about work/dinner/the game, browsing through social media. When we are distracted, we show the other person, in our case, our wife or kid, that they and what they’re saying are not as important as whatever it is we’re focused on. So, we need to have laser like focus on our wife or kid. No looking at our mobile phones. TV is off. Our eyes locked at our sweetheart of child. And no looking at watches and tapping of fingers or feet either. Daddy Dennis once had his son read aloud while he was talking to him to prove that distracted people can not listen well. His son understood the lesson.
Second, Do Not Interrupt. We need to let the speaker talk all the way to the end. Sure, there are things we want to clarify and we could do that but there are people who would prefer not to be interrupted. So, before talking, ask permission to get pen and paper so you can write down whatever you need to clarify. We’re pretty sure the wife or kid would feel that you are willing to listen to them because you are actually taking down notes to make sure you will understand what they will be saying.
Third, Think Before You Speak. As stated, it is a must. Before the words come out of our mouth, we need to be sure that it will help move the conversation forward. That it will help resolve or de-escalate the situation. If the only thing it will do is to make ourselves feel better because we were able to hit back then please don’t. The goal is to extinguish and not to fan the flame.
Fourth and last, Don’t Be Defensive. We need to come into the conversation without a battle mindset. Remember, the goal is to fix and not to make things worse. If there are things you hear that you don’t agree with or you feel you are being attacked, don’t lash out. Write it down or if allowed, ask for clarification. “What do you mean when you said that I was…?” More often than not, they are not really trying to attack us but seeking clarification as well.
Like we always say on the show, we are barely scratching the surface here. It would take books to fully tackle effective listening. So, we’d like to encourage you to check back once in a while to see more of these blogs about communications and a whole lot more, in the future.
Remember to catch us Monday to Friday from 12 noon til 3pm with a one hour replay, from 7 til 8pm.
-Man of the House