How to Be a Better Listener

1.Position yourself so that you can be engaged with your spouse and the conversation: Face your spouse and make eye contact. If you are doing something else (for example, typing or reading the paper), stop.
2.Close the door to minimize interruptions and let your partner know you’re willing to listen.
3.Pay attention to your spouse’s words. Stop daydreaming and letting your mind wander elsewhere.
4.Pay attention to nonverbal cues: Notice pitch, tone and inflection. Observe facial expressions and posture. Is your partner slouched, turned away from you, or sitting with his arms crossed? These postures may indicate that he is upset - try to find out why.
5.Be conscious of your spouse’s personality - and your history together - when you’re evaluating her words.
6.Try to determine what your spouse wants from you, even if it’s not explicitly stated. Sympathy? Advice?
7.Try to rid yourself of biases or preconceptions that can distort what you hear or your understanding of it.
8.Avoid interrupting the speaker before he is done talking. You might be thought rude, but more important, you might misinterpret what your partner is saying if you don’t let him finish.
9.Respond appropriately. Encourage your partner with an understanding nod or say “I see” or “That makes sense.”
1..Ask questions to clarify what you don’t understand and to demonstrate your interest. Open-ended questions (such as “How did that make you feel?”) promote further discussion. 
Your questions and comments reflect how closely you have been listening. Good listeners might incorporate bits of what the speaker has said, sometimes much earlier in the discussion, into their questions.
Keep an open mind and avoid jumping to conclusions. 
Avoid turning the focus of the conversation onto you. For example, if your spouse is trying to confide a personal problem, avoid saying “That’s just like the time I ...” and digressing into unhelpful stories about yourself or your own problems.
Avoid trying to plan your next comment while the other person is talking - this can detract from listening and hearing.
Don’t let your emotions cloud what the other person is saying.   

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