We say that having the last word in the argument means you have the upper hand. And that's true - but not in the way you might think.
Most people want the last word so that they can have power over the situation. If you are fighting with someone you want to have the last word so that you can leave the zinger that hurts the most ... right?
When it's phrased that way, having the last word sounds like a bad thing. Or certainly not something that rebuilds a healthy relationship. But I would like to argue (and so would motivational speaker Simon Sinek) that being the last to speak really is an opportunity to listen - and listening is a crucial part of any relationship.
Having the last word is an opportunity to listen
Even if you have the opportunity to listen, are you taking it?
When you keep your mouth shut during an argument or a meeting, most of us are sitting there thinking about what we are going to say next. We spend time thinking about our own opinions instead of taking time to listen.
But if we aren't listening, we can't know what the people around us are thinking or feeling.
When this happens, we are talking at each other, but we aren't taking the opportunity to listen.
So what does listening really mean?
Listening means that you are open to what's being said. You're willing to truly consider someone else's thoughts and opinions first, before offering your own.
When you listen to a coach you give them your full attention. You are listening with a willingness to change because you understand that the coach is giving you vital information. Why don't we apply the same listening strategy when we argue? Too often we listen so we can use their argument against them. You're closed off and you do not care to change ... which doesn't get anyone, anywhere.
How to you become a better listener?
So how do we go from just hearing words to being an active listener? These four ways can help:
1. Eye contact
When you're arguing (or even talking with others) are you making eye contact? When you look someone in the eye, it's very hard not to listen to what they are saying. It's hard not to feel what they are feeling. It's hard to ignore their pleas and opinions. Good listening starts with solid eye contact.
2. Ask questions
The best way to prove to someone who you are listening is to ask questions about what they are talking about. Why do you feel that way? What do you mean by that? How long have you been feeling this way? Why did you think happened? Questions about the situation will demonstrate that you're an active listener.
And, as long as you stay calm as you ask questions, you'll be able to understand them better.
3. Wait till the end
When people are interrupting, both parties feel the need to talk faster and listening goes out the window. Practice listening and wait until they have completely finished talking before you add your two cents.
Summarizing what your sweetheart just said does two things; first, it lets your honey know that you were listening. Second, it demonstrates that you are trying to understand where they are coming from. Both demonstrate excellent listening skills.
Listening is truly a win/win situation. When you listen to your sweetheart, you'll learn about them and they will feel safe and validated. You will have a deeper bond together and share more love in your relationship.
So when it comes to arguing, don't be afraid to have the last say, just make sure that you are listening to what they are saying first.