We talk too much.
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, everyone talks too much. It’s true that we can be masters at talking but amateurs at actively listening when the roles are reversed.
There have been times when I’ve come so close to wanting to say to the person excessively talking, “Be quiet! They just want you to listen.”
If you’re unfamiliar with how to actively listen, you’re not alone. A majority of us either don’t know how to or do know how to and are practicing and refining it.
Here are some ways you can practice active listening.
#1. When your S.O. is venting, hold your tongue.
You probably have some awesome advice about the problem your S.O. is having at work or maybe you want to share some tips on how to resolve it. Whatever it is, don’t say it.
The act of venting is literally just airing out everything that you’re frustrated with and all the feelings that come with it.
Confiding is the act where you disclose something personal to someone you trust with the possibility of seeking advice.
The best way to respond or react when it comes to venting is to be empathetic and show some sympathy to what they’re going through.
When I vent to my boyfriend, even though all he says is, “Awe, I’m so sorry babe,” it’s still very comforting.
#2. Stay in the present moment not in your thoughts.
Getting lost in thought is something all of us do and though it’s great to do, one of the times you should not be doing that is when your S.O. is opening up to you.
Instead of thinking about the different ways that the conflict they have can be solved, do your best to pay attention and focus on the conversation.
A good way to do this is to repeat back what they are telling you as a way to confirm and clarify that that’s what their situation is.
This will help you get out of your mind and show that you’re paying attention to what they’re saying.
#3. But don’t hesitate to offer help.
It’s one thing to give your S.O. unwanted advice right off the bat and another to offer any kind of help that they may need.
When either my boyfriend or I are feeling stressed, tired or under the weather, there are times when we do open up with the purpose of getting advice but usually we ask, “Is there anything I can do to help?”
That phrase is very open-ended and has little room for hurt or error because worst-case scenario is that your S.O. says no and that’s okay.
#4. Ask questions for more details.
If your S.O. is being really vague and not giving you specifics, just ask them questions to get more details.
It’s important you do this so you have a clear objective view of the situation, not just what they’re saying out of hurt.
You can’t force them to be open and transparent with you if they’re not used to doing that or having a hard time with it.
Asking questions will take that pressure off of them and they’ll feel more comfortable not disclosing if they’re not ready to.
But be careful to not continually press them about something that they have already expressed they’re not comfortable sharing. It’ll give them more of a reason to not be transparent with you again.