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Black Belt Listening

LindaHappy couples are skilled in the art of attentive listening. They allow themselves to be penetrated by each other’s words and feelings. They don’t simply receive the information, but are informed by it, and frequently change their behavior accordingly. When one partner expresses discomfort in response to the other partner’s request for more closeness, a simple remedy for bridging the distance between them is to institute periods of committed listening. It can make all the difference.

When a partner is able to patiently accept the other’s feelings, opinions, and desires, and is able to override his (or her) own impulse to be in the spotlight, the relationship will thrive. His willingness to show up to honor his partner’s needs deepens the level of trust and respect that they hold for each other. As trust grows, there is a willingness to reveal even the most tender emotions. Here are some practical tips for becoming a black belt listener:

  1. Remember that listening is love.
  2. Make up your mind that rather than trying to get your partner to listen to you, you are committed to listening more attentively to her.
  3. Having agreed upon designated times to discuss important subjects is always a good idea. Spontaneous discussions can always be added.
  4. Don’t allow other people (children, the dog, telephone, etc.) to interrupt the flow of the conversation.
  5. The quieter you become the more you can hear. Being fully present with no distractions reassures your partner that you care. When you stop everything you are doing, to be as quiet and still as you can to give her your full attention, the results start to roll in. You must be present to win.
  6. Turn off any tech devices (lap-top computer, cell phone, tablet, and TV) and keep them off during the conversation.
  7. Body language, such as fully facing her and periodically leaning in towards your partner, shows your interest.
  8. Practice patience even when she may not be getting to the point as quickly as you may want her to.
  9. By restraining yourself from interrupting, the speaker feels your respect.
  10. Being genuinely curious to know your partner more deeply is likely to draw her out to communicate more with you.
  11. Ask clarifying questions designed to prompt the speaker to go deeper into his or her experience. One effective prompt is to say, “Tell me more.”
  12. Resist the temptation to jump to conclusions.
  13. Remember that completing her sentence is invasive and intrusive, and is not respectful.
  14. A few sincere and well-placed words, such as “yes, un-huh, really, I see, that makes sense, and wow” show your involvement and interest.
  15. Periodically paraphrasing in your own words, what you are hearing shows you are right with her understanding her communication. You also get a chance to have any misunderstandings corrected.
  16. You may feel tempted to offer advice but it is much more powerful if you ask the kind of questions that will allow your partner to draw her own conclusions.
  17. If you notice that you are feeling bored, rather than stopping the conversation or changing the subject, see if your questions can take the conversation to a deeper, more-feeling level to have an interchange with heart and meaning.
  18. Congratulate yourself as you become a better listener and enjoy the trust that your attentive listening is building.
  19. Showing love by what we do and say is only one way to do it. Sometimes we show love by what we don’t do and say. Being quiet to show our care with committed listening may be just the method to take the well-being of the relationship to a higher level.
  20. Sincerely thank your partner for her willingness to share her feelings, thoughts, and life with you.

And remember to enjoy the process.


Linda and Charlie Bloom are excited to announce the release of their third book, Happily Ever After . . . and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams.

Praise for Happily Ever After:

happily-1Love experts Linda and Charlie shine a bright light, busting the most common myths about relationships. Using real-life examples, they skillfully, provide effective strategies and tools to create and grow a deeply loving and fulfilling long-term connection.” – Arielle Ford, author of Turn You Mate into Your Soulmate

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Black Belt Listening


Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW are considered experts in the field of relationships. They have been married since 1972. They have both been trained as seminar leaders, therapists and relationship counselors and have been working with individuals, couples, and groups since 1975. They have been featured presenters at numerous conferences, universities, and institutions of learning throughout the country and overseas as well. They have appeared on over two hundred radio and TV programs. Linda and Charlie are co-authors of the widely acclaimed books: 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last (over 100,000 copies sold) Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love, and Happily Ever After...and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams. The Blooms are excited to announce the release of their fourth book, That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places. They live in Santa Cruz, California, near their two children and three grandchildren. To view our upcoming events and to sign up for our free newsletter, visit our website at:

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APA Reference
Bloom, L. (2019). Black Belt Listening. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 25, 2019, from


Last updated: 10 Jan 2019
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.