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Couples Counselling & Listening skills

Couples Counselling & Listening Skills

Empathy is the ability to see the world from the point of view of another person, to share and understand another person’s feelings. Empathy is a selfless act, it enables us to learn more about people and relationships with people and is beneficial to ourselves, others and society. Phrases such as ‘being in your shoes’ and ‘soul mates’ imply empathy.

While modern Western culture might be socialising people into becoming more individualistic rather than empathic, research has uncovered the existence of “mirror neurons,” which react to emotions expressed by others and then reproduce them. When someone else is sad, angry, or happy, mirror neurons help us feel what that other person is feeling. If our experiences are similar enough, we can empathise in a way that promotes a connection and can be soothing to the other person.

When we are in a close personal relationship, we need to understand the skills of active listening in order to make our communication with our partner as effective as possible. How well we listen has a major impact on the quality of our relationships with others.

So, first of all, why do we listen?

• We listen to obtain information.
• We listen to understand.
• We listen for enjoyment.
• We listen to learn.

Given all this listening we do, you would think we’d be good at it! In fact most of us aren’t and research suggests that we only remember 25 percent to 50 percent of what we hear. We hope the important parts are captured in that 25-50 percent, but what if they’re not? Clearly, listening is a skill that we can all benefit from improving.

Couples Counselling & Listening Skills

The way to become a better listener is to practice “active listening.” This is where you make a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying but, more importantly, try to understand the complete message being sent. In order to do this you must pay attention to the other person very carefully. You cannot allow yourself to become distracted by whatever else may be going on around you, or by forming counter arguments that you’ll make when the other person stops speaking. Nor can you allow yourself to get bored, and lose focus on what the other person is saying. All of these contribute to a lack of listening and understanding.

To enhance your listening skills, you need to let the other person know that you are listening to what he or she is saying. To understand the importance of this, ask yourself if you’ve ever been engaged in a conversation when you wondered if the other person was listening to what you were saying. You wonder if your message is getting across, or if it’s even worthwhile continuing to speak. It feels like talking to a brick wall and it’s something you want to avoid.

There are 5 simple steps to active listening and I’ll summarise them in next week’s blog!

Need some advice and support?

If you are experiencing relationship difficulties at the moment and would like to talk it over either by yourself or as a couple, in complete confidentiality, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.

Book a counselling session today!


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