Good communication starts with listening, but that would all be so easy to understand if we all communicated the same. Of course not – men and women both communicate and listen differently. Yet there’s one similarity that is part of our human nature – we all want to be heard.
We need to be willingly open to change and improvement in our relationships. How we communicate to one another being a big one. That’s the ticket to knowing how far you and your spouse are willing to go in mending the quality of your commitment.
Back then, I wouldn’t say my stones all skipped. I wasn’t the perfect communicator, or listener myself. That resulted in once engaging with someone who refused to hear me out, and in turn creating a harsh environment in our relationship for any communication whatsoever.
I remember thinking this myself – “He just won’t listen to me – he doesn’t understand me – he refuses to hear what I have to say!” Granted, do I think it is about finding the right person – who is willing and able to learn, empathize and value your feelings? Absolutely, but it doesn’t always work that way.
My husband has been an excellent communicator and listener from the get-go. Its one of the many things that still surprises me about him years later, because it is one of his very best qualities as a spouse. And I go out of my way in letting him know I appreciate those qualities about him. And with that, it has dramatically changed the way I communicate my feelings, needs and conflict. If you’re struggling to be heard in your relationship, open yourself to change and try my 10 tactics in getting your significant other to hear you, and listen.
“HE WON’T LISTEN TO ME!”
[10 TACTICS TO BEING HEARD IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP]
IT’S NOT WHAT YOU SAY, IT’S HOW YOU SAY IT
We hear this non-stop throughout our lives. And if you haven’t, well, prepare to have your mind blown. A lot of times we express our opinions, thoughts and feelings with too much emotion – think of it as having no filter. Granted, in some cases that is obviously necessary and understandable. But in terms of more general, normal conflict within relationships, too much emotion can do more harm than good.
A raised voice, name calling, foul language and a disrespectful tone are some of the many tendencies we have when conveying a problem, conflict or intended conversation with our spouse. A major problem I had in my previous relationship was my speaking style. Moreover, I came off sounding like a know-how know-it-all, and that of like a preacher.
If you want to get your SO’s attention with what you say, speak in a manner that would have your attention without feeling backed into a corner and ridiculed.
DON’T: “You don’t get it, do you? Maybe if you’d just f***ing make the initiative once in a while, we wouldn’t have to argue like this all the time.”
DO: “It would make me happy if more of an initiative was made.”
YOUR TIMING MAY BE REALLY OFF
Generally we don’t think of this, because we tend to want to talk and be heard on our own time. But if your SO had a stressful, terrible day at work – is that really a time he’s going to want to listen? It’s important we empathize with their needs just as much as our own. And if you really want to get him engaged in listening, have the little bit of patience in making sure the time is right on both ends.
GET CLARIFICATION FIRST
So, my husband and I kid around with each other a lot. So much that sometimes – on my off days – I can take his kiddingness too literal. In a sense, some of the things he does or says can rub me the wrong way – leaving me feeling hurt, confused, frustrated or angry. But did he really mean to cause me discomfort?
That’s the side we forget to lean on, and we jump to conclusions based on our emotions. Though easier said than done, try not initially acting on emotions. Instead, clarify his intentions with a question. As silly as that can sound, you’d be surprised how many times this can avoid further arguments (because not everyone means what they say or do).
DON’T DIG UP THE PAST
I don’t think anything annoys people more in relationships than rehashing old wounds. Because nobody likes the idea of going through a vicious cycle – if you know what I mean. So when you’re having difficulty getting your SO to listen to you, the last thing you want to do is bring up the past. Just when you think you’re doing him a solid by giving him a “Ahh – I see now” moment, you’re really just holding old dirt above his head, adding fuel to the fire out of spite or making every last attempt to prove him wrong. All in thinking these tactics will weaken him – ears open and eyes wide. Honestly, that will do the completely opposite.
Avoid peeling up old wounds, past resolved conflicts and moments of forgive and forget.
EXPRESS YOUR NEEDS, NOT COMPLAINTS
Reality check: complaining never motivates for change – not even in the real world. I mean, only rarely does whining, crying, complaining and pitching a fit get you anywhere (except maybe during a customer service call) – only temporarily and likely with resentment. It coincides with acting on our emotions – we express what is wrong rather than what is needed.
I actually had a talk with my husband about this. After much research on why exactly men shut down from their spouse, in a sense it sounds as if women are constantly having to tip-toe around a man’s feelings. That we aren’t allowed to express how we feel without a man taking it as condescending. And before we know it they’re throwing a wall up (their pride) and mentally shutting down. Which, in this case, they’re refusing to listen – an issue among women that seems so prominent today.
Am I really not allowed to express emotion, or be upset when I catch you in the same lie – 3 times in a row?
In my view, I find that a man who can’t handle being in the wrong (and simply admitting to his wrong) or deal with feelings of discontentment within the relationship (pertaining to him or not), while refusing to empathize with his partner, is a sign of weakness.
But as my husband said, “It shouldn’t have to be that way – women should not feel they have to walk on egg shells in fear we might shut down emotionally, or constantly match their feelings with their words – when men surely don’t think to do the same. I am strong enough to know when I am wrong and when I have contributed to unhappiness – and to not run away based on pride.” I realized that might simply be the fact. Some men are more sensitive to words than we think, and we should take that into account all around if we want to get our SO to really listen.
“You’re never around anymore.”
“You constantly make excuses for everything!”
“Why don’t you ever care about me more than your job, or friends?”
“All you do is work, work, work! It’s always about you!”
“You’re selfish – you only think about yourself, and your needs!”
Badgering, blaming, finger pointing, hammering, drilling, and bitching – when all we are really trying to say is, “I need more quality time.” Direct more attention to what you need moreso than pointing out what is wrong.
Same goes for various conversations outside of the relationship. If you’re simply in need of venting about a particular situation (whether about work, family or a friend) – make that need clear to your SO – otherwise, he’s likely to assume you’re looking for advice.
NO FRILLS, JUST GET YOUR POINT ACROSS
Another issue I have – that still seems to put my husband’s head in the clouds at times – is beating around the bush. He knows, more than anybody, I’m likely to go off on a tangent when trying to explain anything. We, as women, like telling stories, elaborating, validating our words, and going into depth. So when being heard in your relationship is already an issue, practice the KISS method – keep it short and simple. If you’re SO needs more elaboration, he will ask.
BE MORE OPEN TO LISTENING TO HIM
One of the main reasons we have such a difficult time getting our spouse to listen is because we fail to examine how we listen. Make a point to get his opinion or stance on topics or situations that arise, and acknowledge a mutual resolution in times of conflict (all without pointing blame).
Sometimes we open the flood gates by inviting our SO into engagement by listening to their side, feelings and opinions. Ask more engaging, thought provoking questions, and show interest in areas of conversation that pertain to him.
NO NEGATIVE-NANCY, BE POSITIVE
Truth be told, guys really, really don’t like conflict. Ultimately, that’s what they want to try to avoid in the first place. And the first indication that usually erupts conflict are those who tend to be Debbie-Downers.
Who really, truly likes to listen to a constant Debbie-Downer? With a positive attitude on particular topics of concern in the relationship, you’re twice as likely to engage your SO and reach a mutual resolution.
TAKE THE TIME TO APPRECIATE AND ACKNOWLEDGE THE GOOD
Something we probably could all benefit a little more from – in all avenues of our relationships – is to flaunt the good over the bad. In times where we need to be heard, more than likely it’s because we’re expressing a need, fault, flaw or inadequate desire within the relationship (all in all, negatively speaking).
And to our spouse it probably reads like this, “I willingly bring in and take out the trash every Tuesday and Thursday, so she doesn’t have to, yet she disappointingly notices my lack in quality time from having to work late this week.” Take the time to acknowledge the good within our relationships, aloud, and express the things to be appreciative for other than when our needs are not being delivered.
& WHEN ALL IS LOST, ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS
Literally. And as I’ve said above, my previous relationship was a perfect example of simply not having met the right guy for me, for my needs and what I deserved. There are times when that question should be put on a pedestal – is this behavior truly what I deserve?
Some people will remain unchanged, no matter the effort you put forth or how many chances you give. And unfortunately, that is completely out of your control. Only you are responsible for your own happiness.
So what do I mean by actions? Well, you should really be the judge of that. But once a solid effort has been made on your part, and lack there of on the other side – the next step of action may be to see him for the person he is and wants to be, and allow him to see what he is losing out on.