Why Don't You Ever Listen?

We're always hearing women complain that the men in their lives never hear a word they say. But frankly, women are just as guilty of tuning out, too.

We often think we have more to gain - earning respect and admiration and controlling other's thoughts - by speaking than by listening. But, really, to actually do all that, first we're going to have to hear what the other person has to say.

Here's what keeps us from focusing - and how to fix it. Can you hear me now?

Tune-In Tip #1: Pay attention

Listening is actual, physical work; your heart rate picks up, your body temperature rises and your breathing increases. It only seems easy because our minds understand speech much faster than we speak (600 or so words per minute versus 125-150 words per minute). Since we can figure out what the speaker is saying faster than they can spit it out, we have plenty of time to daydream. Stay alert and focused on the speaker's message to keep your mind from wandering off. Another focusing tip: ditch the external distractions, like the blaring television or loud music.

Tune-In Tip #2: Shut Up Already

It's that whole listen twice as much as you speak thing. Most of the time when we're "listening" we're really just already planning what we want to say in rebuttal. Use your listening time to try to understand what the speaker is actually saying. If you simply must open your mouth, use it to ask questions or paraphrase the message to make sure you really do get it.

Tune-In Tip #3: Don't Make Assumptions

Often we stop listening when we assume we already know what the speaker is going to say, or that it's not important or too hard to understand anyway. Try to remember that you first have to understand what your partner is saying before you can make judgments on it.

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