Listening is a fine art that requires focus and genuine interest. Frequently, I have found that I am forming a response in my mind rather than listening to the person who is speaking to me. Sound familiar? We are anxious to provide an answer from our wealth of knowledge, while the speaker, our friend, may not want an answer at all.
When your partner, child or best friend comes to you pouring out a complaint or concern, their greatest need is to be acknowledged. The best way to do this is to “reflect” what they have said. In essence, you are holding a verbal mirror up so that the speaker knows you heard him and he also hears himself more clearly. It requires listening very carefully. Whatever your mate, child or friend shares, share it back in a paraphrase. They will know that you actually listened and heard their complaint. This opens the door for more conversation. Details can be added, clarified and anger diffused. Eventfully, they may even ask for your opinion.