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Active Listening in Relationships Creates a Deeper Connection

Updated: Apr 8

an image from deep space evoking the idea of connection

Why is putting energy into listening carefully so important?  96% of people believe they are good listeners.  Yet, one study by Scientific American showed that even in a listening activity geared to make getting the right answer easy, only 66% of women were able to answer the questions correctly, and (sorry guys!) men did worse at only 49%.  This held true across age, income, and educational level.  

It’s true that listening creates connection, a critical touchstone of human existence. When we feel heard, we feel connected.  It’s a basic human need.

What is Active Listening

Active listening is a powerful and essential communication skill that involves giving complete and undivided attention to the speaker. It goes beyond merely hearing the words spoken. It requires genuine engagement and empathetic connection. The art of active listening demonstrates respect and consideration for the speaker, making them feel valued and heard. It is a process that involves both verbal and nonverbal cues, such as maintaining eye contact, nodding, and acknowledging what they have said.

Active listening is crucial for effective communication and relationship-building. Whether a relationship with a significant other, a friend, a coworker, or a child, stronger relationships make it easier to understand one another. By learning and putting into practice the art of listening, you can enhance personal connections by deepening understanding and empathy. Listening builds trust.

When practiced to its fullest extent, active listening is a transformative skill that empowers individuals to establish meaningful connections, communicate effectively, and cultivate empathy and understanding. By being fully present and engaged with the speaker, individuals can enrich their interactions and create more harmonious and productive social and professional relationships.

The Importance of Acting Listening in Relationships

Why do you want to be good at active listening? People joke with me a lot that their mother told them they should listen!  I’m sure that you, like me, heard that you needed to when you were in kindergarten.  The problem is, they didn’t help us understand the importance beyond making them happy.  

Here are five ways active listening can improve your life:

  1. Enhanced Communication: Active listening promotes clear and effective communication. By paying close attention and asking relevant questions for clarification, misunderstandings are reduced, and messages are conveyed more accurately.

  2. Conflict Resolution: When engaging in active listening, you gain insights into others' perspectives and concerns, which can be instrumental in resolving conflicts. Empathetic listening helps defuse tensions and facilitates finding common ground.

  3. Professional Success: In the workplace, active listening results in enhanced teamwork, leadership skills, and collaboration. By actively listening to colleagues, clients, or superiors, you can build a reputation as a reliable and thoughtful team member. It can even lead to recognition or promotion.

  4. Reduced Stress: Active listening can be stress-reducing for both the speaker and the listener. When people feel heard and supported, they experience less emotional burden, leading to improved well-being.

  5. Positive Influence: Being an active listener sets an example for others, encouraging them to adopt better listening habits. Your active listening can inspire a culture of open communication and understanding in your social circles and workplaces, as well as at home.

Overall, active listening is a transformative skill that nurtures deeper connections, enriches communication, and promotes empathy and understanding. By embracing active listening, individuals can experience a host of benefits that lead to personal growth, stronger relationships, and increased success in various aspects of life.  It does way more than make your mom happy!  

A Deeper Relationship Connection

In his book, “Lost Connections,” Johann Hari points to people in Russia, Japan and China; pursuing happiness in those countries is approached quite differently. “You try to make things better for your group-for the people around you. That’s what you think happiness means, so it seems obvious to you.” (p181).

My own experience as an exchange student in Ukraine brought this concept vividly to life. I recall a moment of profound insight while witnessing a young mother purchasing cheese, despite its astronomical price at the time, and joyfully giving it to her small daughter. Though she had none for herself, her happiness radiated from her as she met her child's simple need.

It was a powerful reminder of the deep satisfaction that comes from selflessly caring for others.

These moments of connection and compassion remind us of the intrinsic value of our relationships with others. Like fibrous tendrils, our connections transmit both the simple gestures and the profound acts of kindness. In receiving and responding with compassion, we not only strengthen these bonds but also nurture our own sense of fulfillment and purpose in life.

How to Apply Active Listening in Relationships

I teach a framework to make it easy to remember and apply active listening in relationships.  I call it the C.O.R.E.  It’s an acronym that stands for Calm, Outcome, Relate and Empathy.  In the course, “Listen Your Way to Deeper Connections” I unpack this a good deal more.  Briefly, though, here’s a peak.

Most people think that listening begins with the other person, but in actuality, it begins with you.  Unless you are calm, you will be unable to hear what the other person is saying.  Next, know the outcome the person you are listening to desires.  Are they looking for your advice?  Do they need to vent?  Being clear prevents numerous misunderstandings and hurt feelings.  Relate is all about the active part of active listening.  It covers such things as the obvious such as eliminating distractions, to the more subtle like understanding body language.  One key aspect of relating during active listening is learning to ask questions to clarify the meaning being shared.  Empathy is the heart of active listening.  By learning how to extend empathy without being pulled off your center, you are able to deepen all your relationships and show true compassion.

Most of all, though, listening requires intention and practice in daily life.  It’s something everyone can learn.  It’s not difficult.  It does require self-awareness, and that can be expanded.  With just a bit of focus, you’ll be amazed at how quickly relationships begin to improve, and your connections thrive.  

If you’re interested in learning more, check out Listen Your Way to Deeper Connections, or visit our website for more blog posts at

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