5 Reasons We Talk “At” Each Other And How To Listen

Reasons Talk Each other Listen

2) You’re thinking about what you’re going to say, and can barely wait for them to stop talking. Instead, stay in the moment.

You can be so busy formulating a response, or something that will prove them wrong, especially if you feel criticized. Rather than thinking of “your turn,” try to stay in the moment and actually listen to what they’re communicating to you. Then you have the ability to respond more spontaneously, and the conversation might actually lead somewhere fresh.

Related: 8 Steps to Get Past Differences With Your Partner

3) You’re responding to their “tone” rather than listening to their words. Instead, ask for another approach. 

As soon as she starts nagging, I shut her out.”

“I hear that condescending tone in his voice, and I just get mad. Who is he to talk to me that way?”

You can grow very sensitive to how your partner is talking to you, and react. You get mad or withdraw and the actual message of what they’re trying to convey to you gets lost in the process. Instead say,  “I want to listen to you, but when you say it in the way you are, I tune out.” Hopefully, they’ll respond by changing their tone. The important message is, “I want to listen.”

4) You’re distracted by something else. Instead, give one another a heads up that you need their attention.

“I told you that.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“Yes, I did. You were sitting, looking at the TV and doing something on your phone, but you answered me.”

Well, I don’t remember that at all.”

We get in the habit of trying to talk to each other, while distracted by a hundred other things. If you’re really listening to someone, you’re looking at them in the eyes or jotting down what they’re saying. And wait until they’re through with what they’re doing so they can concentrate. Good listening is proactive.

5) You can misread your partner’s motive or intent. Instead, ask questions and try to assume good intentions. 

You can believe that your partner has an ulterior motive behind what they’re saying. Often, this occurs due to earlier conflict. You still think your partner is making a point or getting a punch in. Let’s say you had a fight about who is doing the brunt of the work around the house. Feelings were aired on both sides, but the subject is still sensitive.

Then later he says, “Do you want me to pick up the kids today?

She explodes, “Just because I was saying I’m tired, doesn’t mean I need you to do that!”

He’s moved on from the earlier conversation, but she hasn’t. She misreads his motivation or intent. Instead, ask questions but don’t assume. “Are you still mad?” for example.

Good listening simply takes practice. And more practice…. and even more practice.


Written By Dr. Margaret Rutherford 
Originally Appeared In Dr. Margaret Rutherford

So, the next time you are at loggerheads with each other, try to actually listen to what your partner is saying and don’t just talk ‘at’ each other. Genuinely listening to what your partner has to say can help both of you solve the problems that might be plaguing your relationship. So, don’t talk ‘at’ each other, and always opt for healthy communication.

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