Ever wonder why it’s easy to open up to some people, and not to others?

Ever wonder why you have a hard time getting your partner to open up to you?

In both cases, I’d bet it has a lot to do with how the listening is.

Most of us can sense how we’re being listened to, and the quality of that listening significantly affects what we’re likely to say.

Think about it:

When someone listens to you with impatience, how do you feel?

What about if they listen with indifference? Or if they’re listening expecting a particular answer?

Now, what if someone listens to you with compassion? How does that feel? What about if they’re listening with curiosity? Or generosity?

If you’re like most people, the listening you receive determines how open you are. Similarly, the listening you give determines what you’re likely to hear.

The next time you are engaged in a difficult conversation, or you find yourself really wanting your partner to open up, take a moment and check yourself:

How are you listening to them?

Notice what’s there. Maybe you are feeling a little impatient. Maybe you do want them to tell you what you want to hear. Maybe you’re trying to rush them through, so you can get to the part where you talk.

These are all human responses. But it’s worth considering: how do you want to be listening?

By setting a clear intention (and maybe even sharing it with your partner), you have the potential to radically shift the quality of a conversation. When you decide that you want to listen with an open heart, or without judgment, it can go a long way toward your partner feeling safe. Even if you’re not 100% consistent in listening that way, a clear intention gives you something to return to when things go off track.

And if there’s a quality of listening you want to receive, demonstrate it by giving it to your sweetie. That can certainly sweeten things up. As a mentor of mine likes to say, “Give what you want to get.”

What’s your favorite way of listening or being listened to?

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