Stop Fighting in 30 days

Week 3: Use Your Ears to Resolve Conflicts

How to Be a Good Listener

In order to make this vow a reality, you and your partner must take turns being the speaker and the listener. The next time a conflict arises, let the partner with the gripe have the Emotional Right of Way to speak first. Don't worry, the listener will get his or her turn to be heard, too. When the speaker feels completely heard and understood, it's time to switch roles.

It's important for me to point out that being a good listener is more than passing a hearing test. If a listener merely sits quietly and says nothing in response, the speaker will think that she or he is talking to a gerbil. Good listeners convey, in various ways, that they have heard and understood what has been said. To become good listeners, both you and your partner must learn the following three skills.

1. Mirroring: The listener restates exactly what has been said. The listener must be careful not to overuse this skill, or else he will sound like Polly the Parrot. Here's what mirroring sounds like:
Speaker: I am so sad that my boss is retiring.
Listener: You're sad that your boss is retiring.

2. Restating: The listener repeats, in his or her own words, what the speaker has said.
Speaker: I am so sad that my boss is retiring.
Listener: Your boss's retirement really has you down, huh?

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