4 TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE LISTENING

“Whatever life we have experienced, if we can tell our story to someone who listens, we find it easier to deal with our circumstances.”


– Margaret J. Wheatley –

Tip #1. BE WITH THE SPEAKER.

  • Set your intention to be present and compassionate
  • Give the speaker your full attention
  • Choose a quiet place, turn off your phone(s)
  • Set boundaries (especially regarding time; if you have only 20 minutes, say so)

“Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don’t have to do anything else. We don’t have to advice, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen.”

– Margaret J. Wheatley

Tip #2. DON’T FIX IT!

  • Don’t try to fix or make things better for the other person;
  • Acknowledge their pain
  • Encourage them to explore and get through(not around) their discomfort;
  • Don’t give sympathy. It’s so disempowering! (things like “You have to be strong.” or “Things will get better, you’ll see.”)
  • Don’t give unsolicited advice (if you have useful information, wait until they are complete with sharing)
  • If you feel like asking questions, do this rarely and choose open-ended questions: “How are you feeling right now?” or “Would you like to explore that more?”

“The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed – to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is.”

– Paul Palmer

Tip #3. IT’S ABOUT THE SPEAKER, NOT ABOUT YOU.

  • Don’t compare their situation to one that you experienced (if it’s useful, wait until they are complete sharing)
  • Reflect feelings and needs (“It seems you could use some ease at the moment.”); it shows you are listening; it shows their feelings are valid; it allows them to go deeper into the issue.
  • If something they say triggers you, acknowledge your reaction briefly (and internally) and put it aside for later; don’t bring it up during their time.

“The gift of being heard is something really precious. Having someone listen attentively to our expression or story is really healing and can enable us find our own understanding, acceptance, balance and joy again. “

– Fiona Reilly

Tip #4. LET THERE BE SILENCES.

  • Become comfortable with the moments of quietness; don’t rush to fill them;
  • Silence offers them the space to gather their feelings and to let suppressed feelings bubble to the surface; if you distract them with your chat, the moment may be lost;
  • If they seem to sink into silence though, ask them an open-ended question like “What comes up for you right now?”

“[…] simply by having their experiences heard in a non-judgmental and accepting way can allow things to shift and heal.”

– Fiona Reilly