A key component of good emotional health is understanding. You have to know what you want. If you are in a relationship, you have to know what the other person wants. Once you are aware of the wants, you have to acknowledge the needs. After all, not everything you want is a need. But you already knew that. Finally, you have to know how to get there. At the intersection of your wants, needs, and actions to achieve it all, lies your understanding.

Listening vs Hearing

In order to establish a foundation, we have to define what listening is and what it is not. According to Merriam-Webster, listening means to pay attention to someone or something in order to hear what is being said. We have to admit that this is not always what happens when we are having an important conversation. We are distracted by the phone, computer, or anything else that has the ability to move us out of the moment.

Hearing is to be aware of sound. Hearing is just that, the ability to know that your ears can receive sound. If we are truly honest with ourselves, we spend the majority of our conversations in hearing mode as opposed to listening for what is truly being said. This my friends, is what we have to change.

To be emotionally healthy, emotionally happy, and aware of how a situation affects us, it is important to be present for the hard conversations in life. You and I must listen to what is truly being said. Read on and you will find 7 suggestions that you can implement right away to help you be more present in your relationships so you don’t miss what’s being said.

No Jumping Allowed

Jumping to conclusions is never a good thing, even if you are right. It becomes a nasty habit. You start to think you know the way the other person’s mind works and most times you don’t. what you have taken was an educated guess based on the circumstances. The last thing you need is to jump to a conclusion and have it be the wrong one. You may say something that the other person wasn’t even thinking and open a can of worms that should have been buried a long time ago. The best course of action is to allow the conversation to take its natural twists and turns.

Look at Me When I am Talking to You

I know I am not the only one with a parent who said that. It’s even worse not what I am a parent who says it. Making eye contact is an important for someone to know that you are paying attention to the conversation. It shows that you are invested enough in the subject to look at the person. Looking into a person’s eye may be one of the most intimate acts that doesn’t require physical contact. You can see the true emotion behind what is being said. This allows you to enable the empathy we spoke about before.

Give the Speaker Your Undivided Attention

No one likes to feel like they are talking to a brick wall. Nor does anyone like to speak to someone with their face buried in a phone. Don’t be that person. Be kind enough to realize that what is being said may be rough and it could have taken all of their courage to get this far. It would be detrimental to their self-esteem to have to know that you don’t respect their presence enough to pay attention. Can you put yourself in that situation? Can you imagine what it would be like to muster up all of your courage and not have an audience. That, my friend is a feeling we have all had and none of us would want to repeat.

Empathy is Everything

You don’t have to agree with what is being said. You don’t even have to like what is being said, but it is imperative that you do your best to empathize with that the speaker is feeling. Maybe I should have said this before, but I figured it was implied. These suggestions are for dealing with people you truly care about and want to have in your life for more than two seconds. Now, if you are dealing with someone who is taking your order in a drive thru, your attention span and level of empathy should be way different. Back to empathy. There are few better feelings than to know the person you are talking to is trying to relate with you and understand your feelings. Just thing how important it is for you to get your point across when you are speaking. You want the listener to feel you.

Silence is Golden

Depending on how deep the conversation is, there may be some awkward pauses. Don’t rush the pauses. Don’t rush the moments. Beautiful relationships have bloomed in silence. You have to be willing to go through them and make it to the other side. It takes time to gather thoughts. It takes time to build courage to say the next few sentences. Be patient with each other. Be patient with yourself. By rushing the moments, you are again denying yourself the opportunity to be fully present and make the best decisions for yourself. Slow down, take time to ponder all that has been said while you wait for what is yet to come.

Ask for Clarification

If there is ever anything you don’t understand, ask for clarification. Don’t walk away from any interaction in a state of confusion. Especially if there is a decision that needs to be made, you want to do it from a place of clarity and comprehension. You can approach this in two ways. The first is you can make mental notes of the questions you want to ask at the end of the conversation. I don’t suggest this method because there is a chance that you will forget at least one of them. Second, you can respectfully ask the speaker to elaborate in the moment. Say something like, “would you please tell me what you mean by that?”. This method makes sure that both you and the speaker are always on the same page.

It’s not necessary to implement all of the tips at once, but the sooner you do, the better your communications will be for it.

Have you used any of these suggestions before? Have they helped or hindered your understanding of what was going on in your conversation?

Let me know in the comments below.