Published July 27, 2020 at 12:08 pm
I have recently been experiencing probably, the most difficult year of my life to date. I realise that a number of people are also feeling the same due to Covid, of course. As a result, I have needed the support of my friends, family and colleagues. I am extremely fortunate in that I have a large support network……thank you to anyone reading, you know who you are!
Due to my sharing, I thought it important to write this blog as I realise, in talking and sharing my difficulties with others that ‘listening’ can come in many guises. It’s interesting as people often tell me that they are good listeners, actually talking and listening are often confused. People sometimes think that because they are good at offering advice or are a good problem solver that they are good listeners, this is not always the case.
Of course, I understand for me it is slightly different as I have undergone so much training on active listening and motivational interviewing etc. And, I wouldn’t expect everyone to be fully versed in these techniques however, the main reason for this blog is to perhaps share a little bit of knowledge on this, so that you might be an even better listener!
So, what makes a good listener?
Well, to start with it is as simple as ’just listening’! Mostly, what the ‘talker’ is needing is an empathic ear. Someone who will allow the talker to talk without necessarily saying anything however, the odd sympathetic nod or gesture is always a good plan.
Secondly, it’s really important not try to rescue them from their situation or ‘fix’ them. Often, when a person gets upset or is sharing some strong feelings the listener feels uncomfortable, this is of course natural as none of us like to see anyone in distress. However, it’s good for anyone of us to vocalise our feelings, particularly when we are vulnerable or upset so, do try not to butt in with things like: ‘I know how you feel’ or ‘don’t feel like that’. It can be very frustrating when the talker is sharing their inner most thoughts to hear phrases like this, it not only makes them feel they can’t share but also makes them feel that they shouldn’t be feeling the way they do.
Validating our feelings and thoughts is very important, especially in times of distress. It’s also a way of internalising what’s happening and perhaps, coming to terms with the situation. We all have feelings and to not have them validated can lead to frustration and low mood.
So the next time someone shares their feelings, no matter how difficult it maybe ……..JUST LISTEN!