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)
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?”
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.
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?”