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Angie's "Under Construction"

We are constantly changing and growing. We learn new things everyday whether from ourselves or from the relationships and families we are involved in. We can become stronger, healthier and happier by the way we treat others, view ourselves and experience the world around us.

This column by Associate Marriage & Family Therapist Angie Cerniglia explores the fascinating world of relationships and the multiple parts of ourselves. We are beautifully and wonderfully made and since God is never really finished molding us, we are therefore, always, Under Construction.


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Learning to Listen

October 07, 2015
By Angie Cerniglia, MA, AMFT, LPC

There is a saying that everything we need to know we learned in kindergarten--there is even a book written on the topic! Of the life skills I remember learning in kindergarten (how to count, my alphabet, finger painting) one of the most important skills I remember learning is how to listen. I can recall the teacher praising the other students and me when we could repeat what she had said, giving us points for being attentive. I was so proud to be a good listener, but after a time the gold stars stopped coming, and like most of us, I completely forgot about its importance. As adults no one praises us when we are good listeners, but there can be consequences in our relationships when this skill is underutilized.  

You can probably remember the last time you hugged your spouse, kissed your spouse, and said “I love you,” but when was the last time you really listened to your spouse? When your partner shares a work story, tells you about their day, or updates you about a friend chances are you are listening. However, chances are you might also be checking your phone, on your computer, or thinking about a completely different topic altogether. When we get into a discussion or an argument with our spouse, it’s typical to find ourselves thinking about what we want to say or what we want our spouse to hear, rather than listening to what they are saying. This can lead to long, frustrating arguments and feeling disconnected as a couple.

So, how can we bring back the basics of active listening we learned in kindergarten, and use them to not only build up our marriage, but our work and social relationships as well? Below are three tips to help that happen! away from distraction: Whether it is your phone, the computer, or the mail, if your partner is sharing something with you, look up or set down whatever it is that is distracting you and make eye contact with your partner.

Confirm you have heard them: Let your partner know you heard what they said by repeating what they said or verbalizing you understand. If you are actively listening to what they are saying, let them know with more than a nod.

Take turns: Don’t interrupt one another! This is especially important when in an argument. It is easy to talk over each other in a desperate attempt to be heard and validated. In order to be heard sometimes we have to listen first--letting our partner go first and taking our turn talking second can be very effective.

Kathy says:
October 12, 2015 07:06 PM CST

This is an excellent reminder of the basic points to good listening.  I'm going to take it to the wall as a reminder to myself. 

Chris Alan says:
October 20, 2017 11:34 AM CST

Wow what an amazing post, this was genuinely interesting to me and useful also. You always share great stuff and we hope to see more posts from you soon.