Professional counselors will tell you that one of the most important relationship skills they teach is active listening. Often people get into trouble in their relationships because they have not developed their ability to listen and communicate. However, one can learn to step out of reactivity and listen deeply and lovingly. This is a great gift to self and to family and friends.
Barriers to Effective Communication
There are some good reasons why many people are less-than-effective communicators. These are the most common reasons:
• Lack of skill; not knowing how
• Not taking the time to think through what one wants to say
• Not taking the time to anticipate what another person might be thinking and feeling
• Fear of revealing too much of oneself
• Being afraid of another person’s anger
• Not wanting to hurt another person’s feelings
Four Key Listening Skills
Listening skills are the building blocks of effective communication. These skills enable you to demonstrate that you are interested in what the other person has to say, as well as hearing and understanding the other person. Four key listening skills are open-ended questions, summary statements, reflective statements, and neutral questions and phrases. They are easy to learn with a little practice.
Open-ended questions begin with what, why, how do, or tell me.
Jim Thomas, Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy Trainer, talks about EFT, relationships, technology and staying connected in our modern busy world. Really nice podcast on relationships. Click here to listen.
Bill's first conversation with Jim Thomas, is the second-most popular Conscious Couples Conversation since its inception. In today's podcast, Jim Thomas talks about how so many couples seem to have lost their way, and he reveals the benefits of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) sessions and intensives.
Jim Thomas is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He has served as President of the Colorado Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and Director of the Colorado Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy or EFT – which learned from its creator, Sue Johnson. Jim’s work focuses on helping people to be more fully aware and engaged in their lives - allowing deeper connection with others and a richer life.
What is needed in successful relationships? The ability to REPAIR and move from disconnection to connection.
Can love last forever through the ups and downs of life? Couples therapist Dr. Sue Johnson explains what it really takes to make a relationship work. This is really good.
The Atlantic publishes good article summarizing John Gottman's research suggesting that kindness is a as key factor in successful relationships. Check it out!
Poem by one of my Yoga Teachers Kiara McBain. It is profound.
Tonight I realized
life is clean and simple
a mere blank canvas on which to create
it's people that make life complicated
the mess of another
makes a mess of our own life
I wanted to swear to stay away
from broken hearts
and broken people
but the hard truth is
very few sort out their demons
very few know themselves enough to live honestly
and very few look at life as an opportunity to learn
so it is our job to love
the messy landscape of humanity
as if adoring a sunset
with all its bleeding lines
lack of definition
and gleaming imperfections
"Landmark study shows that Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) can help couples understand their relationship better, reduce conflicts and create secure, loving bonds that can soothe brains."
More research on Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Principle investigators Dr. Sue Johnson and Dr. Jim Coan happy to share that the first brain scan study of EFT is now available in an Open Access Journal. EFT theorists explicitly claim that EFT affects a couple's ability to soothe difficult emotions by strengthening their attachment bond. I see this often as I work with couples taking them through the steps of Emotionally Focused Therapy. We now have some good evidence. Awesome.
I was surfing around the web and came across resources for Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. I was pretty impressed and wanted to pass along these resources.
While watching the videos I realized that what I do in relationship counseling is very similar to what Rosenberg does with tribes and warring groups. I help couples and families get to and communicate what is at the heart of the matter. I do this by facilitating the expression of deep human needs within each person that are not being met in the relationship. This often promotes empathy and connection and dissolves anger.
After thinking about how similar Nonviolent Communication was to Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples and Families, my mind moved to its application to current events. It made me think of the Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin tragedy and how differently it all may have gone down if this way of thinking and interacting were promoted in our county. I felt sad knowing our country promotes ideas like "standing your ground " over empathic non-judgmental listening. The videos are long but worth a listen and a reflection. YouTube has tons more as well.
Evelyn Schmechtig -Cochran