On TV this morning, I heard Barack Obama address young leaders.

 “Listen to understand… rather than listen to respond . It will keep you out of a lot of trouble in your marriage,” quipped Barack Obama.

He was re-directing the comments of one young man addressing the importance of the right kind of open communication between those who do not agree politically.

Even if you don’t agree with Obama’s politics, you’d be hard pressed to question his ability as a husband.

His advice resonates.

 LISTENING requires that you get the information being presented, which means you have to really focus on understanding the person who is speaking to you.




  1. Be present… totally. Watch for body language… concentrate on the words you are hearing.
  2. Remember that your spouse or whomever can read your body language too.
  3. Maintain eye contact.
  4. Self regulate your mood and your voice. Give verbal feedback that you are hearing what is being presented.
  5. Never interrupt the person who is trying to tell you something. Don’t change the subject.
  6. Be quiet. Sometimes just listening can be the most effective thing you can do.
  7. It is an art worth practicing, to recognize the perfect balance of when to talk and when to listen.
  8. Try to see the problem being presented through the eyes of the presenter, respecting that no one else can really know the pain of another.
  9. Accept your spouse/whomever, even when there are aspects of their behavior you don’t agree with.

Don’t miss an opportunity to be a good guy-listener to your friend in need. Practicing listening skills will serve you well in all your interpersonal relationships.


And whatever you do… Don’t ever tell an angry someone-you- love to “calm down”. Abuse aside, understand  that when a person is angry and out of control, most often its because he/she doesn’t feel heard.

And… concentrate on what it is that your loved one is trying to communicate rather than on their emotional outburst.

For sure, he or she will have the opportunity to reciprocate.



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