One Easy Step to Better Relationships

ama ask me anything effective communication relationship advice relationships self-improvement Aug 23, 2023
One Easy Step to Better Relationships

If you've been in a relationship for a while, have you ever wondered whether there is a better relationship partner out there for you? Or, if you are single, have you ever wondered whether there is a Mr. or Mrs. Right out there for you?

What do you think would make someone right for you? Sure, you want them to be attractive and have a personality and interest that matches yours, but what else?

Better yet, how do you sustain that feeling of being right for each other?

While there are a lot of answers to these questions, there is one, overarching answer that will

  • foster a new relationship, or
  • rescue a stale relationship

It almost seems too simple--just one thing will do all that?

As a therapist I've worked with a wide variety of people over the last 20 years, and I've seen the power of this one thing in people's lives. When my clients have implemented it, they have seen it work miracles in creating deeper relationships and shifting negative relationship dynamics.

What is this one thing? It is the one thing we all need from our closest friends and family, to feel seen, heard, and understood.

Feeling seen, heard, and understood is a basic human need. Not something nice to have, but a need we all have.

Granted, some of us have been through hard times and have gotten used to not feeling seen. As a result, we come to believe we don't need to feel seen, we can live our lives and be successful without it. But, even if you or someone you love holds this belief, there still exists a deep longing to be seen, heard, and understood.

If you can give someone the gift of feeling seen, heard, and understood, it will deepen your relationship and create a lasting bond with that person. 

How exactly do you do that? I'm glad you asked. 

It lies in the lost art of listening. To really listen, you need to look at your partner and engage with what they are talking about. Nod or shake your head appropriately and pay attention to your facial expressions so you are being consistent with the tone of what they are saying. Finally, ask follow-up questions.

Follow-up questions could be a clarification of details or checking in with how they feel about what happened. Asking a follow-up question shows interest and invites your partner to open up. The end result of you listening, being genuinely interested, and asking follow-up questions is a feeling of being seen, heard, and understood.

To dig a little deeper on this subject, the key is to connect with how your partner is feeling and to validate their feelings. 

To validate your partner's feelings means you express understanding of how they feel and that you understand why they feel the way they do. It does not mean that you agree with their feelings, which you may not. But, your agreement doesn't matter. What matters is that you express understanding of what your partner feels and why.

There is one "don't" that goes along with helping someone to feel seen, heard, and understood and that is do not start talking about yourself until your partner is done and has answered all your questions or unless they ask.

Most often this "don't" rule is violated when you tell a story about yourself in order to convey that you understand what your partner is feeling. Don't do this!! Cut straight to the point and express your understanding without inserting yourself into the exchange. Talking about yourself shifts the focus away from your partner to yourself and is the opposite of what you are trying to do.

If your relationship is a little stale or you are trying to find a partner, practice listening and asking follow-up questions. You'll be amazed at the difference it makes in the quality of your relationships and the closeness you feel.

If you'd like questions to ask to practice listening and increasing your emotional closeness, get my 36 Questions for Increasing Closeness booklet.



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