Are You Truly Listening To Your Partner

There’s a weird phenomena floating about ‘out there’ and I think it has existed for absolute centuries. Ever since speech was invented and we no longer needed to rely on our body language as a form of communication; which of course was a more honest form but that’s a story for an entirely different day. The phenomena I like to call it is, “Not properly listening to your partner” and it’s a part of life that stems from the way in which each of us process information, or Information Processing as it’s professionally called.

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Information Processing

Information Processing is the way in which we receive unedited information and then roll it through our brain and then it pops into our heads in a way in which we can understand it. It’s not just as simple as this though because the information needs to travel through our ‘brain filters’. What are these you ask? Well say for example I told you that “Allah is the real God” then my words would go into your Brain and you would take that information through ‘your childhood’ and ‘your experience with religion’ then perhaps ‘cultural experience’ or ‘social barriers’ and a wealth of other filters and, depending on those factors and the result you came up with you may take the information in and ‘agree’ or reject it entirely and ‘disagree’. This was a very basic example of course

This happens in loving relationships a bit too often, and I dare say it’s more common in men than it is in women. Perhaps it’s because the main portion of my friends are women; all the same I hear and see it everywhere. Women complaining, “I wish he would just listen to me” – I’m not saying I’m perfect. I too occasionally switch off and my wife will go mad.

Steep Learning Curve

What I have learned through life (and it’s been a steep learning curve) is to learn my biases and prejudices, and work around them. Learn to go with the flow. A thought happens in an instant so the processing is pretty damn fast. But we can learn to recognise when we are being biased, or prejudiced or judgemental. It’s also very important to learn that other people have entirely different thought processes to you too. Given that everyone was brought up and nurtured in an entirely different way to you; that and life throws everyone a different message.

Take me for example; I was an only child, my Dad emotionally abused me, my Mum felt seriously bad for me and so did my Grandparents. I was the centre of the entire Universe for a very long time. I didn’t need to share anything with anyone, apart from the spare sweet on the playground with friends. Hell, I lived on my own for practically six years before I met my [now wife], so you could probably imagine the self-centredness that was entrenched in my daily life. So when I met her it seemed completely strange to do things as a couple. Normally when I wanted to go out and do something I could just go do it. How weird it was to have to discuss everything with her. And it took a lot of work on her behalf to have me come around. “You need to discuss it with me” was met with my filter ‘But I’ve never needed to do it before, why should I now? I am my own person – but after a while, I realized this was me existing as a single person rather than a couple. Boy did she have her work cut out? Haha

Not only that but it was simpler things like when I was trying to watch something that I liked on TV and she would be trying to talk to me about something serious; and my ‘TV is more important’ filter would be on. It’s definitely not that I didn’t see her as valueable, or appreciate her, or love her. It’s because I had been brought up, lived in and mixed with people in a certain way that caused me to process her information like this.

Looking to the future

So what do we do? I think this is a massive problem. People aren’t actually learning about their filters; people are thinking on auto-pilot and deeming what they know, hear, or say is the truth. And when we get intervention by someone that disagrees for whatever reason we aren’t actually digesting that information properly. I’ve seen mega arguments between couples in the past because of a breakdown in communication. Not because it was intentional, but because each of them weren’t properly listening to each other.