Listen, hear and speak the truth


Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 12:07 a.m.
From a reader: What do you do when your would-be partner doesn't listen to what you are saying or, worse yet, listens but does not hear?
Pay attention! Communicate well - whether your would-be partner does or not. Express yourself, listen and respond from love bearing in mind what love is and is not.
Love is patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It rejoices in the truth.
- The Apostle Paul You'd think Paul, 2,000 years later, was listening in! People still respond in anger rather than expose their fears; they still want to be right even when they're not; they still try to hide the truth as though it's something to be ashamed of.
Practice the art of loving, and you also practice the art of communication. You get better at both - even if your would-be partner does not join you in practice or relationship. Don't be afraid to walk away - also in love.
What you have is only worth keeping if it's real. Speak the truth and hear the truth. When your would-be partner doesn't seem to listen or hear what you are saying, consider what he or she is communicating.
Maybe he listens and hears but has stopped caring. Maybe she's weary of trying to reason with you. Maybe your would-be partner gets uncomfortable when you bring up commitment again - the way you do when he lets on as though you've said nothing worthy of response again. Pay attention, but don't assume.
Explore the truth together. Explore it in love! Don't accuse or condemn, don't blame, don't get resentful. Trust that the truth is your friend and that understanding it will serve both of you.
Don't be invested in what the truth is and then get angry when it's not what you were hoping for. Don't expect your would-be partner to want what you want and then paint what he or she wants as inferior. You don't have to want the same things - but it helps to know that you don't.
Don't reject the truth for a lie - "He just needs more time to get to know me" or "She wouldn't sleep with me if she didn't love me." A lie will always come back to haunt you. And chances are you will want to blame your partner when it does: "I've invested three years!" or "I thought you loved me!"
If you and your would-be partner do want the same thing, honest communication will help you to discover that. Sometimes silence, or what seems to be a lack of listening or hearing, is shyness or a lack of experience verbalizing feelings.
Maybe your would-be partner does care but struggles to get the words out. Again, don't assume.
Be open to the truth, realizing that there are no wrong answers and that you don't have all the right ones.
Try following these simple steps in love:
  • Listen.
  • Ask questions to get clarity.
  • Repeat what you think you heard (even if it's silence) to confirm your understanding.
  • Express appreciation and empathy for what was offered.
  • Express your own feelings (as feelings, not facts).
    These steps allow you time to respond consciously rather than blurting out an emotional accusation that perpetuates an argument.
    Even when what you're hearing is silence, listen, and ask what it means. And resist the temptation to make what it means wrong!
    Regardless of how well you and your would-be partner are suited for each other, you can feel good about yourself and your prospects when you communicate well and befriend the truth. Love always feels good!
    Jan Soroka is a columnist, author and speaker based in Ormond by the Sea. E-mail her at jandenise@nakedrelation ships.com, or visit her Web site at www.nakedrelationships. com.
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