The act of being a good listener is only one of many facets of relationship skill. To be a good listener, you have to be able to hear key words and meaningful thoughts said by your partner in order to offer empathy and understanding. Sharpening your listening skill prepares your partnership for a future where, unlike pre-recovery, you are able to talk about your issues without the wheels falling off. If you can match the tempo, the tone, the inflection and the volume of your partner's voice, you will be creating a level of rapport that engenders great passion and intimacy. I'm not suggesting that you become Polly the Parrot, though. That might feel like manipulation or mockery to your partner. I'm suggesting that you slow down and deeply sync up with your partner. You will feel as though you've won the lottery if you have a recovering partnership where you both become adept at tuning in to each other's inner worlds.
Pick a time when you can sit with your partner and not be interrupted. Get comfortable and relax — but not too relaxed. I want you and your ears to stay alert and aware. For the first three minutes, just listen to the sounds around you. Take in every detail of the mundane sounds. But don't discuss your experience. This is a time simply to listen, to sharpen your relational skills.
For the next three minutes, one of you will speak and the other will listen. The speaking partner will pick a subject, any subject, and talk about it. The other partner's job is to listen with complete attention. See if you can get into a rhythm with your partner on as many levels as possible (intellectually, emotionally, and creatively) just by sitting in the same posture that your partner is in. Resist any temptation to respond or offer your opinions. This is about building rapport by listening. At the end of the three minutes, offer appreciation for what you heard, and come up with one question to ask your partner about what he or she told you.
Finally, switch roles so the speaker has a chance to listen, and vice versa.
Upcoming events to be announced.