“The art of listening is so lost,” a colleague once said to me. Sometimes we find it easier to talk than to listen, but listening is a skill that, when used effectively, can improve the experience of both the listener and and the listened-to. Below are five simple suggestions for better listening:
Get clear on the objective. Ask the other person if they want you to just listen supportively, or provide suggestions/advice/feedback. Whatever they answer, do that.
Listen more than you talk. The ratio of them talking to you listening should be at least 2:1. This may sound simple, but can actually prove quite challenging for some of us.
Don’t try to fix anyone. Your job as a listener is not to fix anyone (spoiler alert: you can’t), your job is to be caring and present and supportive. Which brings us to…
Empathize. Nod your head, validate their feelings, show them with your body language that you are paying attention and that their feelings matter, even if you disagree with them. This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Put Down The Smartphone.
Acknowledge and sit with your own feelings. Listening to someone might bring up your own emotions or reactions. Practice sitting with them while also sitting with the other person’s feelings. This is not always easy, but having a mindfulness practice can help.
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This site is for informational purposes only. It isn’t intended to diagnose or treat any mental health problems and is not intended as psychological advice.
© 2022 Gina Davis, PsyD. All rights reserved.