How to be a better listener

I really do care about what my partner shares with me, but I often find it hard to be a good listener. Sometimes I want to share advice (I always seem to solve other people’s problems, but not my own!) and other times I want to tell them about a similar thing that happened to me. How can I learn to be a better listener?

Great question! And good for you for seeking to improve your listening skills. Here are a few resources I often share with clients who want to learn how to be a better listener:

Brené Brown’s video that explains the difference between empathy and sympathy. With over 11 MILLION views, this gem of a video is worthy of a watch and the clever imagery of the bear in the hole is easy to remember the next time you seek to be a better listener.

Chapter 3 in The Marriage Counseling Workbook: 8 Steps to a Strong and Lasting Relationship. In my book, I call these listening skills “assertive listening with your heart.” When your heart does the listening, you seek to understand rather than judge, to validate rather than refute, to align with them not necessarily agree.

Guidance from A Cup of Jo is always spot on. Her recent blog post features five tips for better listening from a NYC psychotherapist, Lina Perl: use the phrase “I’m so glad you told me,” name the emotion, stay open and curious, repeat what you heard, and resist the urge to problem solve. (And don’t miss the hilarious Chris Rock clip at the end of the post!)

Listening seems like a simple thing, but it’s actually quite a complex skill that takes practice. And sometimes, learning to be better listener takes the help of a good therapist. Whether you’re seeking to be a better listener for your kids, your spouse, your boss, or your Self, the therapists at Emily Cook Therapy can help.

Here’s to being better listeners!