An article entitled “Masters of Love”, written by Emily Esfahani Smith, has been making the rounds these past few weeks. [You can find the original article here.] The author of the article cites John Gottman’s research which concludes that lasting relationships comes down to two main traits – kindness and generosity. In the article, the author shares Gottman’s examples about how kindness and generosity are expressed in successful, healthy relationships. Such examples include a behavior Gottman labels as ‘bidding’, which he describes as a partner showing genuine interest in what his/her partner says, does, or takes interest in. Other examples Gottman shares is that of partners being kind and giving to one another, and giving each other the benefit of the doubt.
As in all good research articles, the findings here are interesting and thought provoking. But how can we make these ideas more practical so that we, too, can become ‘Masters of Love’? This week, and in the weeks that follow, I will be sharing three practical tools to help us all achieve this goal.
This week’s tool for Becoming a Love Master is: Becoming a Great Listener
Being a good listener is one of the most critical tools to master in order to become a bona fide ‘Love Master’.
Here are a few questions to help you gauge what kind of listener you currently are:
How often do you…
- Spend more time talking than listening?
- Finish the sentences of others?
- Judge the person you are listening to?
- Listen to your internal dialogue and not to the person who is speaking?
- Let the other person speak?
- Plan your response before the other person has finished?
- Feel that you MUST help this person fix his/her problem?
- Jump to conclusions or think you have the answer/solution?
- Keep your mouth shut without offering ANY advice?
What are you learning about how you listen?
More often than not when we are listening to someone else speaking, we are actually listening to ourselves – to what we think, to how we relate to what the other person is saying, and to what advice we might want to give this person.
In order to become a great listener (so that you can become the ‘bidder’ that Master partners are), practice listening to your partner FROM His or Her Point of View – to what their experience is, to what they might be feeling, and to what they think. Listening from the other person’s point of view requires us to step out of ourselves for those moments and put ourselves in the other person’s shoes; listening to understand what it might feel like to be them. Listening in this way can be powerful and allows us to connect deeply with our partners.
This week, practice Listening From Your Partner’s Point of View as often as you can. Take a few minutes to clear your mind and get present. Be there with your partner and take in the information and feelings being expressed, as well as the body language that goes along with it. Catch yourself if you find that you are listening to your own voice instead of your partners’. You can learn more about what you can practice to become a great listener here.
Tune in next week when I will share Tool #2 for becoming a Master of Love: Becoming a Master Giver
In support and admiration,