It all starts innocently enough.
When you’re first in a relationship–whether it’s with a new friend or a romantic partner–everything seems perfect. Every word uttered drips with honey and paying attention and listening is easy.
But then something changes.
Patterns become ingrained and it’s soon easy to predict the next words that will come out of the other person’s mouth. It’s often not intentional–it just is what it is.
Relationships, before you realize it, can become automatic. They start to fall into grooves and form familiar patterns. This is not automatically a bad thing–it’s a way for the brain to save space and focus on other things in life.
But it is a bad thing when one person does not feel listened to, when they don’t feel heard and validated for who they are.
Here I come, entering stage left…
I have a tendency to become so enthralled with whatever I’m doing that I neglect other areas of my life. I can be totally focused on a conversation and nodding but also thinking about whatever interesting project that has captured my attention in the last week or month. I can make promises and picture the response in my mind without ever checking to see if how I heard the request is actually what the other person meant when they said it.
There are unlimited variations of missteps that lead to miscommunication and me not receiving the message.
It doesn’t even have to be a chronic problem. One or two instances of my wife feeling that I have not listened to her is enough to be a problem that I need to address.
Remember, if a person feels that you are not listening to them–even if you don’t always agree–it means that it’s an issue that needs to be talked about until you and the other person come to a mutual understanding.