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5 ways to improve your listening skills

When a couple is facing a divorce and all the hard steps that come with it, communication is key to avoid misunderstandings and speed the process along. Good communication isn't just about how you relay information, but also about how actively you listen to others when they are talking. Do you hear what you think they are going to say or what they are actually saying? There are three types of listening skills; active, reflective and critical. They are each important for everyone involved in the divorce, including your children, your family and your friends.

1. Face to face eye contact

It may be difficult to look your spouse or her or his attorney in the eye, but one of the most important parts of effective listening is to face the person who is talking and maintain eye contact while he or she speaks. If you are looking out the window, playing with your phone or doodling, it appears that your attention is divided and that you don't care about what is going on in the room.

2. Keep your mind open

Divorce is a particularly challenging time as you may come into the situation with experience and preconceived notions that come from tense emotions. During all meetings regarding your divorce, come to the table with an open mind and do your best to avoid mentally criticizing the other person.

3. Create a picture

One way to ensure that the message really sinks in and that you understand what is being said is to create a mental picture as the other person speaks. Whether it's an abstract picture or a literal one, the brain will do the work to keep senses alert and keep you focused while you are listening.

4. Don't plan your next attack

Many people don't hear what the other person is saying because they are too busy planning what they are going to say next. When the other individual is talking, focus on what is being said, not what you want to say to refute it.

5. Ask clarifying questions

If you don't understand something the other party is saying, always ask questions rather than filling in the gaps on your own or assuming you know. Don't ask questions to make another person feel stupid, but instead do so to clarify the point and objectives.

Divorce can be a trying, challenging time for everyone involved. If you are facing a divorce and want someone at your side who will have your best interests in mind, you may benefit from consulting an attorney.

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