Almost any article or book you read on communication will say this. If you want to be a good listener, you need to repeat back what the other person said.
This not only validates what they have said. But it shows them you actually heard what they were saying. Then you can ask questions to help clarify what they meant and how they feel.
It sounds like great advice, right? But does it work in real life?
I have to admit that it sounds a little corny and unnatural.
Imagine a scenario such as this. Your spouse says to you: “I’m so sick of your attitude.” The right way to respond wouldn’t be, “Well I’m sick of your attitude, too.”
Instead, you should say, “So what you are saying is that you are sick of my attitude.” That’s the first step, validating what they have said. Now does that not sound strange to you?
Then you might say, “Just to clarify, do you mean that you are frustrated?” I mean, seriously…who talks like that?
Sometimes I think the teachings on communication are a little off base. I agree with the concept in part but I’m not sure it really works in the average marriage.
In fact, if I were to start repeating back to my husband everything he said, he would probably be more annoyed with me. So although I think there is something to be said for validating what your spouse has expressed, we have to make it realistic.
And let’s be honest. If your spouse were to say they were sick of your attitude, how many of us would be ready to repeat back what they said? No, we would be more inclined to go on the defensive.
I think healthy arguing has its place. Repeating back and asking how someone feels (when it’s pretty clear how they feel) just seems a bit out of touch.
Maybe I’m alone in this. What do you think about this way of communicating? Is it realistic?
Photo by taliesin in morgueFile