How to be a good listener – three simple ways to listen well and make others feel heard…
Listening well is a skill. And, it’s an important one. Most of us under-utilise our listening skills in everyday life, whatever we are doing.
Listen well and you could turn someone’s life around or even save their life…
We all want to be heard and feel listened to and that’s especially important when someone is finding life difficult or is even in distress. Giving your time, listening closely and making this conversation about them is how to deliver empathy. Brené Brown has proven that this kills shame, which stops so many of us seeking help.
That’s why it’s an important part of Mental Health First Aid training.
If you’re naturally more of a talker than a listener, the good news is, you can learn how to listen or improve your listening skills.
If you want to become a better listener, and learn other practical ways to help others with their mental health, why not consider becoming a Mental Health First Aider?
But in the meantime, here are three golden rules of being a good listener that you can start doing straight away.
Three ways you can become a better listener…
- It’s about them not you
When you’re listening and supporting someone, the conversation is all about them NOT you. What the other person has to say is what’s important. It’s tempting to want to share your own similar experiences by saying something like ‘I know exactly what you mean, the same thing happened to me’ and then going on to tell your story. Often, people think that shows empathy. In fact, it does the opposite and simply takes the attention away from them and onto you. This is often a lightbulb moment on the Mental Health First Aid training.
- Less is more
Show you’re listening by saying less – simple right? Don’t interrupt! Keep your responses minimal. This doesn’t mean sit there silently – that would be odd. But just respond enough to show the person that you’re listening and encourage them to keep talking. Nodding along, saying ‘mmhmm’, ‘yes’, ‘I see’ etc are all supportive noises you can make to keep that person talking. The more they talk, the better.
- Two ears and one mouth
We have two ears and one mouth and we need to use them in that proportion. This has become a bit of a mantra of mine. If you’re in a situation where you’re not sure what to say, if someone has told you something that you genuinely don’t know how to respond to, just remember – two ears, one mouth. Listen more, speak less. Allow those silences, when the other person will be thinking so much – it’s often a dynamic silence for them!
If you want to become a better listener plus learn skills such as how to spot the early signs of a mental health issue and gain confidence to provide initial help, you could book a Mental Health First Aid course with me .
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