THE POWER OF LISTENING
I’m lucky. My medical insurance doesn’t pay for therapy. Mental therapy, that is.
I’m lucky because I have two of the best therapists in the world: one is my sister and another family member.
One of the definitions of therapy is: a treatment intended to cure or alleviate an illness or injury, whether physical or mental.
I say my “therapists” are the best because considering the definition above, I always feel alleviated when I get “treatment” from one of my “therapists”.
Listen, Listen, Listen
I’m guessing you know what method of treatment they use by the title of this article. I wanted to “wax poetic” on this subject because 1) anyone can do it, and 2) not enough people do it.
Why is listening so effective and “therapeutic” to both the listened to and the listener?
When someone is upset, they probably feel like they were treated as if they weren’t important, that they didn’t matter. When you provide a safe situation for them to blow off steam, they feel validated. They feel cared about. They feel understood.
- Anger and sadness are debilitating emotions. If a person has a way to safely “vent” negative feelings, an opening is created for healing and solutions.
- As the listener, you need to be patient. Good listening involves just being there and not interrupting. As a listener, you develop more strength in patience. Today when most people are in a hurry and feel like they never have enough time, listening helps you understand, that you do have the time to be kind and generous, two qualities that improve your own self-esteem.
- Save a life. Who knows how distraught person is emotionally? Your act of listening may save a life!
- You get listened to! Funny how that works. It seems the more you listen to others, the more they want to listen to you!
- With enough generous listeners, we could see corporate cultures change, causing their staff to feel valued and be more productive. More harmony in personal relationships, and between countries could thrive. Yes, being a good listener could change the world!
HOW TO BE A GOOD LISTENER
Knowing how to listen well is an important component in relationships at work, marriage, bringing up children, leadership, and even taking the time to hear a homeless person. Listening is an act of compassion and caring.
HOW TO LISTEN WELL
If you’re going to use your precious time to listen to someone who needs comforting, you might as well do it right. Good listeners either knowingly or unknowingly practice a set of skills that are very effective in providing a valuable service to the listened.
You must show that you are truly interested in the person talking. You can show them by using these simple tips:
- Maintain eye contact. This lets the talker know you are interested.
- Don’t interrupt or ask questions. Resist the urge. To show empathy and interest, you can use supportive comments such as, “I understand “yes”, “it must be difficult”, etc. Do not share any of your own experiences. You are there to listen. This about them not you.
- Use empathetic body language such as nodding your head, leaning closer, sitting with arms open (not folded), don’t look around as if you’re bored, and don’t check the time. If you have a phone nearby, be sure to silence it.
4. Don’t offer solutions. This is not the time to try to “fix” them or their problem, no matter how heart-wrenching. Keep reminding yourself that the most important thing they need is to be truly listened to.
Like the lyrics in the song, “What the World needs now is Love, sweet Love. That’s the only thing there’s just too little of.” Listening is Love.
More reading 2): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/14/habits-of-good-listeners_n_5668590.html