Listening is the most essential element in a relationship. It connects people and ensures that a relationship is sustained for a considerable period. A number of relationships require deep listening with another person. For instance, marriage, parenting, and families are some of the relationships that can be enhanced through deep listening. In all relationships, there is usually one person who speaks and another who listens. The major purpose for listening is to understand what the other person is saying. In addition, active listening provides the opportunity of acquiring pertinent information. Therefore, this paper explores how listening is an important element in a relationship by using appropriate literature and research materials.
About a decade ago, my parents had a very problematic relationship. They used to quarrel nearly every day and this made their relationship almost end up in a divorce. As part of the family, I studied closely what led to this kind of situation. I realized that the major problem between my parents was the fact that they did not listen to each other. Both parents lacked active listening skills necessary for cohesion and mutual understanding. As postulated by Huerta-Wong et al. (2010) active listening entails establishing a cognizant decision of listening to the views, opinions and ideas of other people. Therefore, it is important to engage in the conversation fully to understand the message conveyed by others. . Therefore, there is a need to immerse ourselves in conversations completely so that we can focus on the words and messages of what others are saying without getting distracted. Through my parents’ situation, I will provide brilliant insights about listening and the way they have the potential to either improve or destroy relationships. Faye Doell (2004) emphasizes the fact that listening is an important ingredient necessary to boost interpersonal relationships. He provides an in-depth discussion about listening by splitting it into two, namely; “listening to respond” and “listening to understand.” Faye Doell (2004) analyses the two types of listening in a relationship setting. He later concludes that those who “listen to understand” have a higher satisfaction in their interpersonal relationship than those who “listen to respond”. Therefore, it is apparent that people who are in any form of relationship should develop a “listen to understand” approach in conversation, which is a prerequisite for a lasting relationship. Information relayed from one party to another can only be received well through active listening. Gearhart et al. (2011) assert that deep listening in relationships improves empathy. This is why when people have problems; they tend to visit a therapist because they usually believe that their stories will be heard. Listening and empathy are closely linked together hence should be cultivated in various relationships. Therapists and leaders have learned the skill of listening, which greatly boosts their relationship with their subjects. One of the greatest hallmarks of great leaders is their ability to communicate effectively.
Psychologists point out that good communicators must be good listeners as well. For example, one of the psychologists known as Carl Rogers alleges that active listening develops healthy and blissful relations. In addition, it promotes positive change and growth between people. Individuals who are heard tend to be more open, honest, and less defensive in their interaction with others. Contrary, people who are rarely heard in a relationship tend to be judgmental, unhappy, and secretive. By listening carefully to what another person is putting across, we are indirectly telling him/her that we care and what he/she is saying is important.
Active listening does not happen automatically. It requires constant effort to ensure that we are able to master the art of listening. Robertson (2005) suggests several ways that can help us improve our listening skills in a relationship setting. The first approach is putting oneself inside the mind of the speaker. This allows the listener to follow keenly what the speaker says. Second is listening for meaning. This approach allows listeners to engage with the speaker. It also enhances participation between the listener and communicator. Thirdly, Robertson (2005) suggests that we should pay attention to the speaker’s tone, eyes, and inflection when speaking. It makes the listener pay attention to the nonverbal cues from the speaker vital in communication. Lastly, acknowledge that you are listening by nodding your head occasionally. This skill gives the speaker a signal that whatever he or she is saying has been received well. Therefore, I would urge people in various relationships to deploy these skills for the betterment of their relationships.
It is apparent that listening is a fundamental element in any form of relationship. Active listening can build a relationship. Psychologists through their intense research have pointed out several benefits of active listening in any form of relationship. Listening is effective in enhancing an interpersonal relationship. Listening is a vital element that constitutes good communication. In addition, it promotes positive change and growth between people. Individuals who are heard tend to be more open, honest, and less defensive in their interaction with others. In my opinion, I would urge people in relationship to cultivate active listening skills in order to have a successful relationship.
Doell, Faye K. “Partners’ Listening Styles and Relationship Satisfaction: Listening to Understand vs. Listening to Respond.” The University of Toronto Psychology Dept (2004): 1813-1813.
Gearhart, Christopher C., and Graham D. Bodie. “Active-empathic Listening as a General Social Skill: Evidence from Bivariate and Canonical Correlations.” Communication Reports 24.2 (2011): 86-98.
Huerta-Wong, Juan Enrique, and Richard Schoech. “Experiential Learning and Learning Environments: The case of active listening skills.” Journal of Social Work Education 46.1 (2010): 85-101.
Robertson, Kathryn. “Active Listening: More than Just Paying Attention.” Australian family physician 34.12 (2005): 1053.