Want to Get Someone's Attention? Try Listening!
The most common concern I hear from couples in counseling is communication. I usually start any discussion on communication with an acronym I learned in grad school called LUVER. LUVERing is all about truly listening and if you really want to get someone’s attention the best way is to start by really listening. So, let’s talk about LUVERing.
The L stands for listen. How do I know that someone is listening to me? It starts with body language, their eyes are on me, they are turned towards me, and they may even be leaning forward slightly. They have their full focus on me (which means they aren’t looking at any electronic devices). They are nodding occasionally or making sounds of listening like: “uh, huh” or “hmm.” They aren’t talking or thinking about their response, their focus is all about me. And who doesn’t like that kind of attention from their spouse?
The U stands for understand. We commonly misunderstand how to show people that we understand them. We might say something like: “I understand,” or “I get it.” Saying something like this only means that we understand according to our personal perceptions and based on what we think we heard. We may not understand at all and we may not even know that we missed the point. So, how do we show someone that we understand them? We tell them what we heard, something like a parrot repeating what was said. We might say something like: “so, I heard you say… (repeat what you heard)” or “it sounds like you are saying… (repeat what you heard).” When we finish repeating what we heard it’s important to ask: “is that right?” or “is there more?” And then we give them a chance to clarify anything that we didn’t get right. Wouldn’t that be great to have someone take that much time making sure they understood you?
The V stands for validate. Validation is all about letting the person know that they have a right to their own experience and emotions. Validating is really hard because we are generally quick to make judgements and we want to express our own opinions on what the other person said. If we are to validate we have to withhold all judgement and let the other person know that their experience is okay for them to have. Even if we wouldn’t experience it in that way (we can’t because we aren’t them) validation is about that being okay! To show validation you might say something like, “wow, that must be really hard,” or “I bet you wish things were different.” Wouldn’t you love to be validated that your experience is okay for you to have?
The E stands for empathize. Empathizing takes one step beyond validation. Empathizing is the place where we try to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and try to imagine what it must be like to have their experience. This is the place where we really try to make sense of what it’s like to experience life in the way they do. Empathy is a hard place because of that natural need we have to make a judgement and because we truly cannot have the same experience other people are having. It takes true curiosity about a person’s experience and then the ability to express true emotions shared from that individual’s experience. Empathy depends on us having worked in the understanding part so we can say something meaningful like: “it makes sense to me that you would feel that way,” or “I can understand why you might feel that way.” Wouldn’t you love to have your spouse take time to empathize with your experience?
The R stands for repeat. Repeat means to repeat the steps of listen, understand, validate, and empathize over and over until the other person feels that they have been heard. At this point you might ask questions like: “do you feel like I heard you?” or “is there more?” Do you think that by the end of someone LUVERing you, you might be ready to give them some attention?
Give some LUVERing a try today and see if you can get someone’s attention by listening to them first. If you have questions about how to LUVER or want to improve your communication with your spouse, give me a call to set an appointment today at 816.368.1220