Couples Effective Listening Skills – Listening Filters

Today, I'm going to talk about effective listening skills. I want to give you a couple of tips that you can use for the rest of your life. In particular, we will talk about listening filters. Listening Filters are one of the most essential communication skills you can learn.

You will especially benefit if you are in a fresh relationship or have been in a relationship for a long time.

This is especially helpful for men. Here's what the tip is.

Effective Listening Skills Build Trust...

Listening is your gateway to building trust in a relationship. The way you listen was programmed into you as soon as you were born. It started when you started connecting with people around you.

Without realizing it, you adopted others patterns or developed your own listening model by pure instincts to guarantee your survival. In other words, your listening skills and the listening filters you use to listen with or your approach to listening is a byproduct of your environment.

Now, the reason this is so significant is there could have been different things going on in the home outside of our ability to be aware of them. In different words, you adopted patterns with a limited viewpoint. Now that you are older and smarter you can learn to listen in any way you would like.

We Develop Listening Patterns Based On a Limited Perspective...

If there was ease and flow in your home growing up you will listen differently than someone who experienced a lot of chaos. The filter you listen with directly correlates to the quality of how well you regulate your nervous system. You see, in the early years, all of your experiences are literally training your nervous system to regulate.

If your primary caretaker knew what you needed when you were stressed and consistently helped calm you down when worried, you developed a nervous system that regulates well. It probably defaults too, "Things will be ok" and automatically calms you down because of habituated patterning. You will also tend to make better assumptions later in life when others don't.

If however, your primary caretaker didn't understand what you needed and was unskilled at calming you down, then your tendency to feel insecure when stress rises dramatically increases – until you repair it. In my coaching practice, I use a process called Somatic Experiencing to assist my clients in repairing to "default" response.

Frequently, when we're little kids, parents can be preoccupied. Maybe they had other children to tend too. Maybe they had taxing jobs. Maybe the father was going through a hard time losing a career job. Maybe the mother was sick. The bottom line was, the parent was preoccupied and they couldn't give you the attention that you needed during your most impressionable years.

All of these scenarios, can create an anxious nervous system later in life. If there is a lot of chaos or unskilled parenting around calming you down when you were stressed, you'll instinctually use coping patterns to calm yourselves down. These coping patterns can show up as wonky behavior later in life.

If you are newly dating someone, you'll recognize them as:

  • Neediness
  • Distancing behaviors
  • Arguments over little things
  • Clinginess
  • Anxious behaviors if you don't respond in timely manner

Common Ineffective Listening Patterns...

In summary, within the first five to seven years of life we have patterns that we take on that become habituated. These habits are going on all the time while communicating with people. They become unconscious patterns that are motivating us outside of out awareness. Here are some common destructive listening patterns to watch for:

  • Listening to "jump in to talk"
  • Listening to "fix"
  • Listening to be "critical or judgmental"
  • Listening to be "right" or "prove you are wrong"
  • Listening to "one up you"

To repair them, we need a method to identify them. The question is: How do we see them?

How To Identify Ineffective Listening Patterns...

As you probably already know, it's easy for others to see our blindspots. Like a fish, we can't see the water we’re swimming in. So it's really significant that you have some skills. An excellent skill it being able to identify ineffective listening patterns you adopted early in life.

Here is the fastest way I know.

To become more aware of your listening filter patterns start by looking at the result you are getting. If you are getting a less than desirable result then just assume you are contributing to that outcome in some way.

A pattern I've developed over the years is to pay attention to what I am doing with information someone is sharing. When I'm talking to someone, I'm secretly watching how I begin thinking about what they are saying. I look for things like, "Am I judging them?" or "Am I finding fault with their method?" or "Am I reacting to them somehow?" or "Am I interrupting them a lot?"

Each of these questions allows me to develop self awareness of my innate patterns I adopted first in life. Once you see them you can decide if you want to change your internal direction in the conversation. Effective listening skills don't always come easy but they are the bedrock of healthy communication so it is worth sorting it out early in life.

If you want to build trust, follow these directions.

Instead of jumping in or giving advice or some of the patterns we mentioned, do this instead:

What I want you to do is:

  • listen for the need or
  • listen for what the person values or
  • listen to what is this person sorting out in their life

What I also find helpful is to go into any conversation with a couple things in mind.

First, check in with yourself to see if you are available to listen and not already triggered or pre-occupied in some way. Before any conversation, I check in to make sure I'm available.

Second, I'd encourage you to see everyone you meet as capable. Capable of working out issues in their life.

The assumption to make here is that if they want help they will ask for it. Even if they ask, do not always give an answer if you can tell they are disempowering themselves.

In lieu of, ask them empowering questions. For example, "If you were to guess the right direction, what do you think you would choose?" or "What do you think you should do next?" This way, your supporting their own resourcefulness which builds higher self-worth and confidence.

Chances are, if they are struggling in the first place, they are lacking confidence in themselves to trust it's ok to make mistakes and learn from whatever choice they make.

You can add, “You know I'm really looking forward to hearing how that turns out for you. I'm excited because you sound like you're on the right track.”

If you feel like they've been shooting themselves in the foot over-and-over again, you can communicate "I have some ideas if you're ever interested." But don't be attached to them to saying yes or no. Most of the time they'll want to know.

Wait until they give you permission to share in that conversation. Don't do it before then. Otherwise, you have fallen into giving advice for the wrong reasons.

Hopefully, that's helpful. Effective Listening skills is a really great trust builder.

Effective Listening is only the tip of the iceberg...

If you found value in this article, please take a moment and select the like button to the left and share this post. If you or you know someone who could use some communication skills support please click on the Book Now tab on the right side of this page. You can get a FREE 30-minute session to see how powerful my coaching style is to decide if it's worth the investment.

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– Noteworthy –

Over the past 23 years, I've been refining a tool that help you to identify what it unconsciously motivating you - causing negative results in your life. It's a very refined 10-Step process to follow that is guaranteed to help you "flush up" what you are doing or thinking unconsciously so you can change destructive communication dynamics permanently. Learn today, how your unconscious is constantly influencing you and how to interrupt patterns that no longer serve you. Go here to get it. [SafeTalk Navigator

And then, most importantly, take time to write your questions below describing your most important communication challenges or challenges you see in others. Feel free to describe what happens in the real world for the challenge you are sharing.

If you haven't been in a relationship for a while, pick something that has repeated itself in previous relationships.

Thanks again, see you in the next article.

ed Ferrigan Relationship Coaching signature

High Ed Ferrigan with Ed Ferrigan Coaching. Thanks again for showing up and watching my videos. 

Today I'm going to talk about listening skills and want to give you a couple of tips. Those who are newly in here in a brand new relationship or have been in a relationship for a long time. 

This is especially helpful for men. So here's what the tip is. 

Listening is your gateway to building trust in a relationship. Now, the reason this is so important is oftentimes when we're little kids let's say that we had parents that were preoccupied they had other kids to tend to or they had busy jobs or maybe the mother was sick or their father was sick or something happened that that parent was preoccupied and they couldn't give you the attention that you needed. 

Well that creates a very nervous I'm sorry and anxious nervous system. So oftentimes what we will do is put coping patterns in place to deal with that. And it will show up as wonky things that start coming up in a relationship when you're with a person over time. Just know that within the first five to seven years of life we have patterns that we take on that we habituate that are going on all the time behind the scenes and that oftentimes we need to challenge them or even notice that we're doing it. 

A lot of times, the third person come here you can see it really easily but we can't see it we're like the fish where we can't even see the water we’re swimming in. So it's really important that you make a conscious effort to be a good listener. 

Here's a couple of tips. 

First we have filters we all have listening filters we listen to somebody in maybe the filters is how can I fix or the filter is, oh that reminds me of when when I did X Y Z and then what we do is we jump in and we grab that conversation and it becomes about us and the other person kind of walks away feeling demoralized because they don't get their point across. 

They didn't feel important. So that's a pretty classic example of where listening is very important. 

If you want to build trust then follow these directions. 

Instead of jumping in or giving advice or some of those kinds of things. 

What I want you to do is listen for the need or listen for the value or listen to what is this person sorting out in their life maybe have to maybe you give encouragement like say oh I know I experience you as a person that you know never gives up and you're always doing your very best and I really appreciate that about you and then let him finish talking. 

Give him encouragement… kind of thing. 

Anything that doesn't pull it away from them is what I'm referring to. So another example might be when somebody is talking about a challenge they're having. Don't try to fix it. 

Just look at him and say what what are you doing about that are you know have you been successful when you think you should do it just listen to him even if you think they're way off base, don't worry about it. 

Just say “You know I'm really looking forward to hearing how that turns out for you. I'm really excited because you sound like you're on the right track.” 

And then you know maybe if you feel like they've just been shooting themselves in the foot over and over again you know sometimes I'll say well you know I have some ideas that if you ever get to the point where you want to know what those ideas let me know now I'm happy to share those with you. But I'm not attached to them to saying yes or no. Most of the time they yeah tell me what you're thinking. 

And then and then they give you permission to share in that conversation. But don't do it before then. 

Hopefully that's helpful. Listening skills is a really big trust builder. 

Take a moment if you want to hit the like button if you like that or a love button or whatever they do on Facebook these days and then if you're on YouTube it's a subscribe button. 

And then most importantly please please please write your questions below of your biggest challenges or things that you see in the world that people's biggest challenges. Put into the form of a question and then describe a little bit like what your biggest challenges in your relationship and your biggest fears about relationships. 

If you haven't been in one for a while maybe your biggest challenge that you're faced with is maybe it's a situation where you keep repeating the same thing over and over again. 

You understand why we just put in your biggest frustrations your challenges and your fears and your relationships because that will help me to produce more videos and maybe even some handouts and things like that so you have circle back and there's a lot of comments. 

Make sure you look above or in the description. I will put a link to a download or something that is more expansive so you can get a deeper solution to those. 

But before I build any handouts or do videos or anything like that related to this topic I need your guys feedback and tell me whether I want those things so. Anyway thanks so much. Hope this is helpful to me doing. And I look forward to the next one. Blessings.

Please share?

Relationship expert, Ed Ferrigan, M.A., CPCC, has been helping singles, couples, managers, and teams break through limiting beliefs and communicate more effectively for over 25 years. Ed is author of the book 100+ Ways To Get Back On The Horse, facilitates workshops on communication skills and provides relationship coaching all over the world using web technology. Ed is a local resident of Boise, ID is an avid dancer, and enjoys fly-fishing.

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Esther Chase - May 5, 2019

Thank you Ed

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