When I listen to couples share stories on how they interact, I smile to myself because they are both asking the same question, albeit indirectly – “Do You Hear Me?”

Anyone can listen; however, there is an art to actually hearing what your partner is saying.

Most people go through the motions of listening. So, let me ask you – when you listen to your partner – do you read between the lines, do you understand the intent of their message, do you understand what they really want or need, or are you listening through your own filters?

Every single person wants to be heard, acknowledged, and validated for who they are and not who we want them to be.

What does that look like?

When your partner wants to talk to you about something – how can you demonstrate that you hear them?

Be available– Don’t engage in the conversation if you have something else to do. Let your partner know how much time you have or when a good time is for you to talk. Recognize if they are really excited to share some good news with you or something is bothering them – then do your best to postpone what you have to do to hear them out.

Be present – Remove distractions and give your undivided attention. Don’t look at your phone when it rings or beeps, don’t look at the mail or the newspaper or the TV – look at them and get comfortable.

Be curious – About what they are really trying to tell you. Don’t put your perspective on it – be genuinely interested in their thoughts and beliefs and concerns and ideas, etc.

Ask questions – Learn what they mean. Ask – why is that? Why is that important to you? What does that mean to you? How did that affect you? How did that make you feel? What would you like to have happen?

Acknowledge them – Let them know you recognize what they are experiencing. What I hear is that you have put in a lot of effort into this situation or that you are really trying or that you feel good/frustrated/sad, you must be really proud of what you have just accomplished, etc.

Allow the conversation to close – Make sure they are done before you change the conversation or get up to do something else. You can ask – is there anything else you would like to talk about? I’m glad you shared that with me.

Creating Sparks is about connection. True connection comes from being brutally honest about who we are, what we need, and what is on our mind. That honesty needs to be met with listening, respect, and demonstrating that we heard – without judgment – just love.