My kind and patient husband and I continue to learn each other’s love languages, the constant care and feeding of one another, how we each deal with stress, etc. This was a busy week for us both. We were gone last weekend and leaving town again this weekend. Between clients, I’m running errands for my business as well as my personal life. Scheduling appointments, painting a bedroom, planning travel, managing my staff, running to meetings, and so on, is exasperating. Stressed, exhausted and under pressure, I catch myself straying from the advice I give clients on how to manage stress-related conflict. I used to think love alone was the key to successful relationships, but I’ve changed my mind. It starts with three little words.
I am listening.
When we’re stressed, we often multitask and don’t really hear what people are saying. When a coworker, loved one or friend needs our attention, giving the gift of listening is not only a loving gesture, it takes much less time than we may think.
Everything shifts, when I stop what I’m doing and show the other person I’m listening.
This doesn’t really require the words to be spoken, but the action of listening is the gift. As I mentioned in this article, a moment of silent focus is a simple way to listen.
Listening is a gift of respect.
It goes well beyond just hearing what is said, as I discussed here. It requires you to stop what you’re doing and convey patience. It’s not easy to do when you’re stressed.
When listening, you don’t have to agree with the other person. These three little words help you start to acknowledge and validate their reality, and from there build a bridge to closeness and love.
Don’t ask why.
This morning, I’ll admit, I forgot this lesson for a moment. Both stressed and hurried in the early hours, my husband couldn’t find his wedding ring. This hit a nerve with me, because I’ve worried he’d lose it, as he takes it off before showering. Instead of listening to his concerns, without saying too much, I gave him a few “I told you so” messages. I caught myself doing this, and started helping him look for it. He found it in the laundry, where it had slipped off his finger. We both sighed, then laughed at ourselves.
I know how valuable it is to my husband when I listen. He smiles, cracks a joke or gives me a warm hug. He also knows how much I appreciate when he gives me that gift of full attention. We both feel better.
Listening is an act of compassion.
It’s not always easy to listen to people when we disagree with them. Yet, with these three words, whether spoken or given through our actions, we can shift the way we engage in conflict.
This simple gift may cause a ripple of peaceful interactions.
Try it. Let me know how it works for you.