Monday, April 14, 2014

"L" is for Listening: A-Z Challenge

L is for Listening

illustrated by Rob Z Tobor
“Speak without offending, listen without defending.”  ~ author unknown

Awhile back I saw that quote and thought,  I totally listen.  I patted myself on the back. I don’t offend people.  I’m perfect, for sure.

Umm, not so much.

Soon after I found that quote (and congratulated myself for being so awesome) I was in the midst of an argument with my hubby.  We started calmly but it became heated quickly.

Rather than step away from each other, we continued the debate.  It wasn’t long before I planned what I would say next instead of listening to Devin.  I was more interested in getting my point across than understanding what he said.

Not surprisingly, with neither one of us listening to the other, hurtful things were said.  Thankfully, Devin realized we weren’t saying anything productive. He ended the argument and suggested we talk later.

It was at that point I remembered the quote. 

A little too late.

Then, I educated myself on healthy communication. Some things I learned to help me listen are:

  •       Avoid distractions.  Turn off the television and close the laptop.
  •       Stay in the present.  Don’t dwell on past arguments or how they pissed you off that morning.  Now is not the time to discuss it 
  •       Stick to one subject at a time.  Otherwise you’ll derail the conversation.
  •       Wait your turn.  Don’t interrupt the other person because you feel what you have to say is more important.
  •       Don’t make it all about you. I avoid going tit for tat when my hubby brings up stuff that he’s guilty of too.
  •       Ask questions.  It’s okay to admit you don’t understand why the person is upset. 
  •       Don’t hit below the belt.  There are some words you can’t take back with an apology.  Like Thumper said, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
  •       If it gets heated, take a break.  It’s better than yelling.


Do you have any tips about listening to share?

~~~@

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge.  Wanna see more?




61 comments:

  1. Sometimes it's best just to shut up.
    And don't argue when tired.
    When our discussions start to veer off into an argument, and it's obvious it's about something stupid, I just end the talk right then and there. When we pick up later, we're both calm and apologize.

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    1. Not arguing when tired is a great tip, Alex! We try not to have any "deep" talks while trying to fall asleep. It's tempting because we're alone, cell phones and computers are tucked in for the night like the kids. But, mental awareness/courtesies aren't very plentiful that late.

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  2. I love to argue. Always have. For the first half of our marriage, many fights lasted longer than they needed to because I was too stubborn to understand that being right wasn't as important as I thought it was. There were times my wife was irrational. I swore she was crazy. I don't even remember the argument but I caught myself being irrational during one of them and I started laughing. I immediately apologized for not only being irrational but for holding her to a higher standard than I held myself.

    Now, if she is upset with me, whether I find her to be rational or not, I listen without getting defensive. I don't feel the need to right, I'd much rather be happy.

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    1. Exactly, Frank! That need to feel right rather than understand what is being said used to be a big downfall for me. I don't know what I felt I needed to prove, maybe just feel good about myself? But, trying to prove how right I was became more important than what we were arguing about in the first place. Now, I don't let it bother me. If I know I'm right, it's okay not to prove it. I can just let it go. And, that goes not just for Devin but with the kids too. I figure they'll find out…eventually….

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  3. I call myself a good listener and for the most part I am. My biggest challenge when it comes to listening would probably be freeing myself of distractions. I find my problem is easily talking. I can listen pretty well, and I can usually offer some good advice, but I'm lost when it comes to friendly and inane banter.

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    1. My hubby is the same way. He has a difficult time with distractions (thanks ADD). It's much better now that he's on his meds though. You're not alone with friendly banter - it can be difficult at times for me too.

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  4. We always want to be right, don't we? I usually think I'm a good listener, mostly because I prefer to observe rather than speak. But in an argument that probably goes out the window. :)

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    1. I don't know why I felt that way in the past. I think it was based on my own insecurities at the time. So much going on in our marriage back then. I'm so glad we've been able to move forward. Phew!

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  5. My mom watches a ton of Dr. Phil. He calls "The Need To Be Right" RIGHT FIGHTING. If you are bent on being right and are a Right Fighter, you aren't going to win. You put two Right Fighters together and it is disaster. As you say, neither listens to the other, refuses to back down from their own point of Rightness, and thinks about what they will say instead of listening.

    If this is something that happens like bathing... rinse and repeat... then I would suggest getting a counselor involved. Sometimes that third party can teach you how to listen to one another. So... if it's really bad... see a counselor!

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    1. I love me some Dr. Phil. He tells people like it is and holds no punches. I have his show set to record every day. Devin and I were stuck in several cycles we had to learn to break out of. I credit my rockin' counselor for helping us out of them. And, of course, our hard work the last few years.

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  6. The wife and I have both made the agreement never to bring up things from the past, because there's nothing more unfair than referencing "that one time you did that one thing two years ago." That was two years ago, this is now. And agreed with Alex, that "not arguing while tired" thing is a great tip. I just shut down mentally when an argument is started and I'm tired, so we both agree to temporarily make peace and talk about it in the morning. So much easier that way instead of dragging things out while exhausted.

    BTW, just to check, you get my e-mail last week?

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    1. Yep, bringing up the past is so pointless. If there was an issue two years ago, it was handled two years ago. No need to bring it up all over again. It just makes you get off topic. I can't talk when I'm too tired. I just don't have the energy and if I don't have the energy…I can be pretty grumpy too.

      I got your email. I'm halfway through - LOVE what I've seen so far!! (I have so much to say but I'll do that in my email back). Yep, really good. If you're ready - send more!

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  7. I always find making a sad face and fluttering my eyelids works well . . . . but if that fails I take all my clothes off, although in supermarkets it can be a bit tricky . . . . and I hate it when everyone points and laughs. . . . . . .

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    1. I used to bat my eyes and make men swoon at my feet. Now, I bat my eyes and find it's easier to keep them closed and take a nap. Do you argue much in supermarkets?

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  8. Shut the hell up and walk away, is a good thing to do, as it does start to get stupid as things go down the drain. I never argue much anyway, at least not about anything serious. But the one thing I always remember is "You could be wrong"

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    1. I'm calling "bullshit" on this one Cat. I've never heard the words "Sorry, I was wrong" come out of your mouth. And the thing is you're ALWAYS wrong :)

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    2. Some things just never change! Get a room you two!

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    3. Jealous Dan?

      The cat never says he's sorry. What he meant was telling the other person, "You could be wrong" because the cat would never admit to being wrong.

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    4. haha what? It sounded good didn't it? I have to at least pretend not to have much of an ego. And yep, the you is "you" not me.

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  9. I finally quit throwing dishes during arguments and that took years and years of work. For the Irish, arguing is like an Olympic sport and I really want to bring back the Gold for my country. Listening during an argument just defeats the purpose and I really can't have my losing an argument become a legal precedent in my home :0)

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    1. It sounds like my Greek family and my first hubby's Spanish family. Loud, boisterous and full of passion. Although, I don't remember any dishes being thrown at anyone. A remote, a shoe and a pillow but no dishes. I would imagine dear Hubby doesn't argue with his Irish woman very often. But, I bet if he does, it's an Olympic event for sure!

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    2. The Hubby isn't afraid of my temper and after all these years he's built up immunity's to my ways. There are only two things he can't stand. Silence and door slamming.

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  10. My favorite method is for my hubby and I to sit and write it out in a letter. It's good for me because I can really think about what I want to say, rewording it as I go so that it's not as confrontational. Then I can make it about how I feel and not what's "wrong". Ideally you then switch and read the entire other side, without distractions, making it easier to discuss. Unfortunately, my husband thinks this is a cop out. *sigh*

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    1. When my hubby and I were recommitting ourselves to each other, we wrote emails to avoid big fights. But, I found not being able to see his eyes, expression or hold his hand just didn't work for me. I like to write it out though if it's weighing heavy on my mind. It seems less heavy after I've written it down. Kinda goes back to keeping a journal for me.

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  11. Typical woman....never listens to her man! lol

    You need to give my wife some pointers on not bringing up the past! It seems like that is all she's got on me is past incidents.

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    1. Typical man, always screwing something up! haha

      Oh, puhleeze! I saw your sappy ass comment on Facebook, Dan. All, "I'm so in love" blah blah vomit! hehehe

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    2. Now you know how we feel when we come to visit your blog. All your sappy "Oh, I got to put so much work into my relationship...blah blah blah!" Vomit indeed!

      Who made you the relationship expert, huh?

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    3. You eat up my wise words of wisdom, Dan!

      Who made me the expert? Pfft, obviously I studied at the Alter of Love!

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  12. some solid wisdom there...when we get into a fight...and any passionate couple will...we have rules we follow that we have set ahead of time...not making it personal, sticking to the issue...take time away, but come back...don't go to bed without talking...

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    1. I'm with you, Brian! So much! Devin and I established rules for fighting too. We promised to yelling (even during our worst times, I only yelled once, him never) and no name calling (same fight I yelled, I named called). Sticking to the issue was a tough one for us. We drifted every where a few years ago.

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  13. Good post, Miss Elsie.

    Staying on point when arguing, I think is key. Keep it focused, I say.

    PS: Today I made a second batch of chocolate chip waffle sticks, thanks to your idea from my Friday Question. Gotta say thanks because I never even thought about adding chocolate to my waffle sticks. So flippin' good. Wish I could have you over for a batch.

    Thanks & Boogie Boogie :-)

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    1. Yes, sticking with one subject during an argument is so important to getting it resolved.

      Oh, yummy! I wish you were my next-door neighbor!! I'd be knocking on your door to get some of those chocolate chip waffle sticks. No need to invite me…I'd smell it!! =P

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    2. I'd send you home with dog treats as well.

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    3. My dogs and I would be so spoiled!!

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  14. I think I am a good listener, then I find myself going off to far and distant lands....Stupid brain stay still!

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    1. Maybe it's just a sign of a creative mind?

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  15. Dear Elsie I know you are a good listener and thi k Im too.
    But with the kids I had learned to REAl Listen, you know sometimes they feel really we do'nt listen but I learned and always try hubby make the same.:)

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    1. With kids it's especially difficult. They can ramble on for days before they finally make some kind of sense! We do our best, Gloria =)

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  16. Tip #1- never argue with my ex-wife. Too dumb to be right, too dumb to know when she's wrong, too wrapped in herself to care.

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    1. Ah, yes. Arguing with stupidity is very counter-productive. You can't fix stupid.

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  17. but... but... but hitting below the belt is the best part of any delightful argument :)

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    1. no, no, Dezzy, that's *after* the argument….

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  18. I never assume I am right and someone else is wrong. I prefer to say to myself, "I wonder why such an otherwise rational person can espouse these crazy thoughts?" Sometimes, I discover they weren't so crazy. Listening is learning.

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    1. Now that I've opened my mind, I am learning all sorts of new things when having a debate. It's not just with my hubby, it's with all things - political views, religion - who says one way is right? Well, I did. I used to think it was mine.

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  19. I love this post ~ I know what you mean about listening but you are eager to get your point across, so you closed your mind and ears to the other person ~ I find that taking a short break to cool off is best, then when both are calm, you have the time to listen ~ Happy day Elsie ~

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    1. We have had some of the best discussions after a short cool down period. It allows us to gather our thoughts (and our emotions) then listen when we sit back down. Be well, my friend!

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  20. I try to listen....I don't like fighting anyway. I have no more energy for it.

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    1. It really does take a lot of energy to fight, doesn't it?

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  21. I'm afraid not, Elsie. I'm a terrible listening when I know I'm right. Of course, "knowing" is a subjective thing most of the time... Also, I tend to know a lot of theory on how to communicate healthily, but it's practice that I still can't get the hang of somehow. I'm sure it's an ego thing.

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    1. Wait, no tips from Blue? How is that possible? You are always full of such sage advice. Yes, knowing is very subjective. Especially to the person doing the knowing. So, they say practice makes perfect...

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  22. There are times when I am a great listener, unfortunately the times I am not are the times that it is most important to be. Words to remember. There is always room for improvement.

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    1. I'm definitely a work in progress. I find myself looking for better ways to communicate and do other things in my life. I used to think my way was the best way. Not so much...

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  23. Great post! When it comes to arguing with my husband, I'm never wrong, so.... Lol. Totally kidding. This was such a great reminder of taking the time to listen to what the other person is saying. There are definitely effective ways to argue/discuss issues, but I tend to "stonewall" when I'm upset, which is very ineffective.

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    1. Thank you, Kristin. I appreciate that. It can be so hard to listen, especially when we feel like our point is so important to make. I can drift over to stonewalling too. I think that's the NYer in me coming out. =P

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm here to help any way I can.