Do you ever feel like you are the only couple with relationship challenges?
Guess what… No relationship is challenge-free. Seriously, they all have their ups and downs, big or small.
And one of the common relationship challenges we face boils down to one thing: communication, or should I say, the lack of it.
As humans, we often think we’re communication wizards, especially when it comes to listening. But here’s a little story to think about.
What are you listening for?
Once, there was this wise old man and his curious grandson. They were strolling down a bustling city street when something incredible happened. The old man suddenly stopped, tilted his head, and tweaked his ear. Then, he said, “Follow me.”
They quietly sidled up to a flower-filled planter near a sidewalk café. Amidst the plants, hidden from view, was a tiny bird’s nest cradling chirping baby chicks. The noise around them was deafening—the chatter of lunchtime diners, the hustle and bustle of the street—but the old man heard the birds clearly, while everyone else remained oblivious.
The grandson was bewildered. “Grandpa, how did you hear those birds? There’s so much noise, so much happening!”
The old man didn’t say a word. Instead, he took a handful of coins from his pocket and tossed them on the ground. The coins clinked and clattered on the sidewalk, and suddenly, everything stopped. People turned to look, diners paused mid-bite, and some even reached for the fallen coins. But just as quickly as the commotion started, it died down.
That’s when the old man spoke, “It’s all about what you’re listening for.”
And here’s the kicker: Whether we’re aware of it or not, our listening is often tainted by what we believe the other person’s intentions are. (Read that again.)
If we suspect they’re out to deceive, manipulate, control, or just plain annoy us, that’s what we’ll hear, and that’s what we’ll find.
But, if we assume they’re being open, helpful, and honest, that’s what we’ll listen for, and that’s what we’ll find.
Now, listening to the words someone is saying is a breeze, but the real challenge lies in stripping away our judgments, perceptions, and thoughts to truly hear what’s being said.
Responding to a comment or question becomes tough when we feel the urge to explain, justify, or excuse ourselves. Spoiler alert: You don’t have to, and most of the time, you probably shouldn’t because it usually stirs up more conflict.
Sticking to the facts might sound simple, but trust me, it’s one of the toughest things to put into practice.