If you want to date, relate well with others or have a successful marriage, there is no skill set more important than that of listening. Our first three tips will supercharge your listening. (By the way, they'll also help create a sense of intimacy and who doesn't want intimacy?)
1. Learn the Art of True Listening
Our definition of true listening is to hear what the other person has to say from their point of view. Really hear it. True listening is an art form that most of us did not learn growing up in our families, amongst our friends, or in school. True listening requires being in the moment and letting go of your point of view, your thoughts, and your agendas.
2. Put Your Listening Ears On and Become the World's Greatest Uni-tasker
Your mind is a complex and brilliant microprocessor, capable of performing many tasks in an infinitely small time frame. That's one of the reasons why slowing yourself down to simply listen is often a challenge. Don't your thoughts often shoot off in multiple directions when listening to your date or your mate? It's time to take a breath, put down that to-do list and be there to really listen. You can do it. It's fun, too.
3. Listen With Your Eyes
Look directly at your partner or the person you are dating or spending the evening with. Engage as if you are listening to the words and the essence of what he or she is saying, not only with your ears but with your eyes as well. If you do this you are much more likely to hear what is actually being said. You will have a direct experience of the person across from you, which is much more satisfying -- for you and the other person -- than thinking it all through.
4. Be Kind to Yourself
In our most private thoughts the majority of us are very hard on ourselves. We are our own harshest critics, finding fault and thinking we should do our lives differently or better. So anyone who finds you desirable has a major strike against him or her for finding you attractive with all of your "faults." If you are out to fix your shortcomings, your partner is destined to be your next "fixer-upper" project. By extension, you will treat him or her as you treat yourself in your thoughts. If you are kind to yourself you are far more likely to be kind to your partner, which will have your relationship grow long after love's first blush.
5. It's Never Too Late to Date
People are so busy with their lives that they often miss what is going on right in front of them. They are trying to get somewhere so they disregard huge sections of their lives rather than interact with those around them as though they are on a date. A date could simply be enjoying a shared moment with another. Even standing in line at the check-out counter can be a special event if you are there for it. If you practice being there with the check-out clerk, then when you are on what you might consider a "real" date you are much more likely to actually be there for the experience. Those who are already in a relationship can have the fun of "mini-dates" with your partner no matter what your day or night entails. A trip to the mailbox while holding hands or flirting over your dinner prep can be sweet little "dates" indeed.
6. Don't Succumb -- Surrender!
Most of us succumb to requests made by our partner. By succumb we mean go along with what is requested of us but not whole heartedly -- not as if it is our idea. We complain in our thoughts that we have to do it. We find fault with the request in the first place and victimize ourselves with it. Want to access heaven on earth? Then surrender. We don't mean wave a white flag and give up. No! We mean go about what you are doing, even if it is something your partner asks of you, as if it is your idea in the first place, with the intention of loving the experience. When you go about your life this way, your relationship will fly. Don't worry, it won't turn you into a doormat. Give it a try!
7. Start Over
It doesn't matter how great your relationship is or how in love you are and it doesn't even matter if you have found "the One"; sooner or later, you are likely to find yourself in a silly fight where you are right and he or she is wrong. Eventually you may even forget what triggered the dispute but you both silently fume, unwilling to be the one in the wrong. At this point, don't try to figure it out. Simply start over. Between the two of you, pretend that in the next instant the argument never happened and turn your attention to other things -- what is happening out the window if you are driving, or tasks at hand if you are at home. You may be surprised how quickly and easily disputes disappear when you let go and simply start again.