Q: My Wife says that I never listen, what would you suggest to help?

A: Most of the questions I receive are about communication. Since listening is a basic skill necessary to good communication and since many partners complain that they feel unheard, here is a quick quiz to see how you are doing. Do it privately when no one is around to challenge your answers! Rate yourself on each of the following aspects of listening according to how difficult or easy each is for you right now. Use a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being great difficulty and 5 being easily competent.

How are you doing at:

  1. Stopping what you are doing when your partner has something to say to you
  2. Making eye contact as you listen
  3. Paraphrasing back to the other what you heard
  4. Not interrupting
  5. Asking inviting questions that show your interest
  6. Asking open-ended questions (ones that require more than a "yes" or "no" answer)
  7. Remembering what your partner told you earlier
  8. Listening to the person's feelings without arguing
  9. Listening to the person's ideas without arguing
  10. Not rehearsing your response while the other person is still talking
  11. Not impatiently finishing your partner's sentence
  12. Looking as though you are interested and involved while your partner is talking
  13. Biting your tongue when you are tempted to give advice

If you have a score of 55 or over, you are an exceptionally effective listener. Just to confirm, ask your partner (or child or best friend) to score you according to their experience of being heard by you. If your score is less than 55, your probably human like the rest of us. Spending some of your time and energy in trying to truly listen to others will get you better results than most anything else you could do.

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