I find that in almost every case, conversations consist of someone talking and the other person wait for their turn to talk. Rather than just listening; they are waiting to share their own experience, their own opinion, or their advice (let me tell you what I would do...). Amazingly enough, most people aren’t even aware that they are superficially engaged in the conversations. If this is your usual means of communication, these conversations could be hurting the people around you by making them feel like you don’t listen. Which translates into you don’t understand them and when people feel like you don’t understand them, they disengage from the relationship.
So think about this: how deep are your connections with your spouse, your kids, your family and your friends? Have you been pushing anyone away by waiting for your turn to talk? The next time that you are involved in a conversation with someone, especially someone who you want to maintain a good relationship with, pay attention to how you are listening. Are you thinking about how to respond or waiting to jump into the dialogue with your point of view? Becoming aware of yourself is a great first step in improving your relationships. The fact is, communication is foundational in building a deep connection.
So if you feel your relationships struggling, try this for a while. Listen, I mean really listen. What is being said, not just the words, but the emotions and the intent? What does this person need you to understand about them and the situation? Get behind the message and consider the deeper meaning. Stop waiting to talk. Stop telling them that you have been through the same thing (that is called autobiographical listening). Don’t give advice unless someone asks you for it (even though I am giving you advice now :)) And when it is your turn to talk, tell them what you heard, clarify what they are feeling by recognizing their emotions. This will deepen your relationships. It will break down barriers with your kids, your spouse, your family, etc. It can restore broken communication channels. It will take practice and consistency, but try it for a while and you will experience a major difference in the depth of your connections, I promise.
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: James 1:19