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Do You Hear What I Hear?

Creating Safety in Relationships: Part 2


--Adam Maisen, LPC-S/TA

· Creating Safety

When I was a kid, I was told that God gave me two ears and one mouth for a reason. This probably had something to do with the fact that I enjoyed talking, a lot. To be fair, I had a lot of great ideas that needed to be said. Sometimes, my parents did not agree that they needed to be said right then.

Now that I am a dad, I understand what they meant. If I have said it once, I have said it 100 times a week to my kids, “Do you hear that mommy and daddy are having a conversation?” When they say yes, I remind them to please wait their turn. I will admit that I do not always do this in the kindest way after the 15 bajillionth time. Hey, I am still a work in progress too!

Being interrupted by others is annoying. However, have you ever stopped to ask yourself why? I think it is because when we have a point to make and are not heard, we feel disrespected.

Okay, so now think about your relationships with your partner. Raise your hand if you have ever experienced being interrupted. I can only imagine that all our hands are going up right now. When we are not listened to and considered, we feel devalued. This happens frequently when we are conflicted with those that we love.

The anatomy of an argument

  1. Two people have strong opinions and want to be heard, stating their points without consideration for the other person.
  2. Both people feel hurt by their opponent because they are not heard, understood, or considered.
  3. Volume gets louder.
  4. Both people bring up old stuff as ammunition against their partner to prove their own point.
  5. At some point, someone gets so tired of fighting that they give up.
  6. The other person feels victorious, but wait…
  7. Feelings are hurt and nothing is resolved.

The turtle heart starts closing (See The Tortoise and the Hair Trigger). Do you see why I changed the language from partner to opponent?

The problem here is that nobody was really listening for understanding because they were busy making their own points.

Listening for understanding is not the same as agreement. However, this kind of listening is necessary to fostering safety in the relationship. Whether you agree with your partner or not, you have to recognize that their thoughts and feelings are valid because they are an individual with a unique experience or perception. You see, when we feel heard and validated, we feel more able to be honest with each other, and not “walk on eggshells.” We will revisit this idea in the next post.

Stay tuned because my next blog post will discuss attitudes that create an environment that fosters honest and open communication.

Creating Safety in Relationships Series:

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