BLOG OVERVIEW: Marriages are struggling through communication because they are missing the style of listening that heals many wounds. UNDERSTANDING.
Curt walks through the front door after a long stressful day at the office. His body feels as though he just ran a marathon. All he wants to do is sit down and relax. However, with 3 kids under the age of 8, that desire simply becomes a decent dream.
No longer than 5 seconds on the couch, Curt’s youngest child, Zack, jumps on his lap. Closely following Zack is Ben. Ben tells his dad about his day at kindergarten. And of course, Ben doesn’t spare any details.
Then Carrie, Curt’s oldest, wants to show her dad her spelling test grade. A perfect 100%. Curt reaches down to find that spare cylinder of energy to be attentive to all 3 children.
Zack, Ben, and Carrie all squander into the other room to continue playing.
As Curt reaches for the clicker (remote control), Jessica starts to tell Curt about who she ran into at the grocery store today. The story continues and Curt gives the subtle, “I’m listening responses.” You know what I’m talking about.
The “neat,” “that’s great,” “yeah.”
However, Curt missed something. He didn’t know it at the time, but Jessica asked Curt to run to the store after dinner to grab some more milk.
The night continued, but around 9 o’clock, Jessica asked Curt, “Are you still planning on going to the store?”
Curt swings his head around towards Jessica, “What? You want me to go to the store? Right now? It’s so late though.”
Jessica answers irritatedly, “Curt, I asked you when you got home. Were you not listening to me?”
For the next 30 minutes, Curt and Jessica argued over this miscommunication.
Or should I say, MISS-LISTENING.
5 Types of Listening Styles
Stephen Covey in 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, writes about 5 different types of listening styles. When I first read this, I closed the book and said out loud, “That’s it. Everybody needs to hear this.”
Here are the 5 different types of listening styles:
- Ignoring – This style if self-explanatory. You might as well stick your fingers in your ears because there is nothing you are hearing.
- Pretending – This styles seems to be a well practiced style in many marriages and families. This is a one way conversation. One person is talking and the other one just acts like they are listening. They give their auto responder, “Yeah, Okay, Great, Sure.” However, there is no comprehension of the conversation for the listener.
- Selective – This is also a popular style of listening. The listener hears part of the conversation, but not the whole. They show signs of attentive listening, but also pretend listening. (This is the style Curt used with Jessica.)
- Attentive – Most people believe this is the greatest form of listening. You are locked into the conversation and hear every word. But there lies the problem, you hear every word spoken. There is one more level of listening.
- Emphatic – This style of listening seems to be missing in many homes and marriages. Opposed to the attentive listening, the listener doesn’t only hear the spoken words, but the unspoken words in communication. An emphatic listener will listen to understand what the communicator is attempting to communicate.
The Secret To Listening Well – Emphatic Listening
Emphatic listening seeks to understand the communicator and not just the conversation. The listener is seeking for understanding. They will ask probing questions. They will dig deeper than the initial conversation. But sadly, many of us are not listening to understand, but listening to be courteous.
The lack of emphatic listening has brought many marriages into trouble.
Curt Needs To Listen To Understand – Style of Listening
If Curt realized the story about Jessica running into someone at the grocery store was just the introduction to her ask, he would have noticed the question. But he missed it. He was too focused on his tired body to actually make the effort to understand his wife.
Many times we get away with simply an attentive style of listening, but we need to do better. Marriages and families are dependent on communication and listening is the real key.
If a marriage masters the art of emphatic listening, there would be many saved marriages.
Emphatic Listening is the style of listening we all need to strive for.