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“You are not hearing me.” In 30 years of marriage, I had heard her frustration more than I want to remember. I believe myself to be a good listener. Patient. Empathetic. Curious. I received feedback from others that I was in fact someone they could talk to so what is it about this relationship I continue to get wrong.

I have been thinking about the MenLiving suggestion of living with candor. In several discussions, men have shared that they think that candor is overrated. Being open, unreserved, and honest can lead to unwanted responses and pain. Personally, I am a fan of the candid suggestion because for me, being candid often allows me to remove a block between me and another whether to get closer or to learn that the relationship has run its course. I also subscribe to what the Conscious Leadership Group says about candor:

 “At any particular time, leaders are operating from either fear or love. This is simple yet profoundly true. Underneath all withholds is fear. We choose to withhold because we’re afraid of losing approval, control, or security. Conversely, candor comes from love. The Bible says, “Speak the truth in love.” It couldn’t be said better. Real candor is expressing the unarguable truth from love. When you develop a mastery of candor, you speak the unarguable truth to all relevant parties with thoughtfulness and kindness. Speaking from love is not a license to withhold or sugarcoat our unarguable truth, because we don’t want to “hurt someone’s feelings” (which is the most common reason people give for not wanting to be candid). Rather, speaking from love asks this question: “How do I say all my truth in the most loving way possible?”

But candor isn’t just about talking. The definition of candor is the quality of being open and honest in expression. So, maybe in a weird way, I think to live this suggestion fully I also need to be open and honest when I listen.  Though according to my bride, I may have some issues. Why is this an issue for me?

First, I don’t think I am doing great always listening with a fresh mind. I acknowledge that I may be carrying my preconceptions of this person I have been with for 30 years rather than appreciating that she is not the person she was 20, 10, 5, 1 year ago. My challenge is to drop what I think I know, remain conscious to this fact, and then remain curious about who and what is present. Familiarity is not always my friend. The known can lead to intimacy, but just as easily lead to apathy.

Second, more on curiosity. I am a curious person. So much, that as I listen to someone, I struggle with holding back on the flood of questions naturally emerging based on what this person is telling me. So, being conscious of this, can I learn to be still, validate and acknowledge the feelings behind the words before (or in place of) the flood of questions? My problem is I think the questions show interest and a desire for connection, but in fact, in many instances, they can be annoying.

Candidly (😉), I remain aware of my short comings and am vigilant about doing better. On Monday, I was with my podcast partner, Chris Lozier, who, quoting from the show, The Bear, stated he is on a mission to “Listen Better.” Ditto, my friend.  What about you?

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