Do you ever feel like we have lost the art of being good listeners? In this day and age of fast lifestyles and having a hard time putting down our phones some of us are feeling that being a good listener is a dying art! The truth is that good relationships with our friends, lovers, family and coworkers are built on our ability to listen to one another. This means not talking over each other and not half listening but instead really hearing and then validating what someone is saying to you.
So if you are struggling with your communication in a relationship try this exercise a professional counsellor gave us which she identified as P.I.T.T. ing.
“The goal of this exercise is to enhance intimacy in a ‘safe’ manner. It is recommended that you do this on a daily basis and it will take about 20 minutes. The more frequently this is done, the less lengthy pitting tends to be.
Two people, Person A and Person B, take turns. ONE PERSON DOES NOT SPEAK WHILE THE OTHER PERSON IS TAKING THEIR TURN. The listener’s job is to listen intently and not comment on what the other person is saying.
Person A begins by sharing what they are feeling and what’s most important to them right now. It’s not necessary to explain why. Keep the interaction relatively brief so the other person can stay present and hear you. Give enough information so that the listener gets an idea of how things are for you. Indicate when you are finished, by saying just that ‘I am finished/complete’.
REMEMBER TO BREATHE – BOTH OF YOU!
Person B then says how they are feeling with Person A listening intently. This may or may not relate to what Person A has stated.
Person A states how he/she is feeling towards Person B. It could be an appreciation. For example, 'I appreciate that you had such a positive outlook about the accident I had yesterday' or 'I appreciate that you cooked dinner last night when I was so tired' etc. Keep it as a specific rather than a general comment like, 'I appreciate that you’re always there for me' or 'You’re always such a wonderful cook', etc.
It could also be a difficulty that Person A is having with Person B. For example: 'I have difficulty when I think that you are ignoring me when we are with other people' or 'I have difficulty when you side with your mother as you seemed to be doing last night' or 'I have difficulty when you leave your wet towel on the bathroom floor' etc. The INTERPERSONAL might include feelings about Person B, an appreciation and a difficulty.
Person B does not interrupt or comment or say anything. His/her job is to listen intently and breathe.
Person A states when they are finished and Person B has their turn.
Person A says what his/her task will be. The task is usually an action related to what they have shared but may not be. For example 'My task is to spend some time talking with you about how we can approach household chores.' Or 'My task is to further explore my anger around the way we are when we are with you mother' or 'My task is to stay focused and balance my work and home life.'
Person B then takes his/her turn and may have a completely unrelated task."
This kind of exercise may seem very unnatural to you at first but it is a way to open the door to communicating about things that can be awkward to discuss, especially for those of us who want to keep everything in our relationships pleasant and easy. Some of us just don’t know how to bring up the tough stuff and this method is a way to ensure those problems don’t get buried only to surface later. Communication is the way to prevent small molehills of manageable problems turning into big mountains of irretrievable resentments and anger.