How to be a better listener for others.

We’ve arrived in 2021 after a pretty chaotic year, to say the least. 2020 taught us to appreciate the here and now. It pushed us to slow down and spend more time with our loved ones. It gave us the space to do the things we have been putting off. For some, this was starting a new business. For others, it was completing home projects. It also goes without saying that this year has been a huge struggle for many people. Anxiety has been the most commonly reported issue among SHOUT service users. You may have found that the people close to you are reaching out more for support but you’re unsure how best to help them. I’ve got you covered! Keep reading to find out how to be a better listener for others…

The Psychology behind listening

Carl Rogers was a leading psychologist in the development of the person-centered approach in Psychology. His work has laid the foundation of modern therapy that we receive today. I would recommend therapy to anyone but I understand that it’s not affordable to everyone. That’s why it’s so important that we take the time to understand how we can all be better listeners for each other.

Having good listening skills are essential for developing and maintaining strong relationships. Listening well shows others that you care about what they have to say. One of my favourite quotes comes from a teacher from my high school. She arrived home from work one day and her daughter was eager to tell her about her day. My teacher busied herself with dinner as her daughter started to talk. Her daughter stopped and said “Mummy, you’re listening with your ears, but not with your eyes.” Even at such a young age, that little girl understood the difference between listening and hearing.

We can all listen. We know when someone is talking to us and although we can identify the sound, we may not always hear what is being said. The difference is the attention given to the speaker. To be a good listener, you must really hear what the other person is saying. Give them your full and undivided attention and process the words that they say. We all know how frustrating it can feel to be talking to someone and know that they’re not fully present. As we head into 2021, let’s acquire skills that will support our loved ones in the aftermath of 2020.

how to be a better listener for others
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It’s OK to look after YOU too. Here are 5 ways to reduce anxiety when life gets stressful.

3 counselling skills YOU can use

Rogers based his person-centered theory on three core counselling skills that are essential to a successful counselling relationship. Although these skills were designed for therapy, they are absolutely applicable to any helping conversation. Integrating these skills when you next sit down with a friend, family member or colleague will show them that you are present with them in that moment. Here’s how to be a better listener for others:

1. Empathy

Empathy indicates to the other person that you understand their feelings. It is different to sympathising. Where sympathising shows you feel sorry for what they are going through, empathising tells them that you are sharing their feelings with them.

2. Unconditional Positive Regard

Showing unconditional positive regard is essential for creating a trusting environment for the other person. Unconditional positive regards means that you will not judge the other person on what they want to say. This gives the other person a safe space to be able to share what is on their mind.

3. Congruence

You can think of congruence as how genuine you are towards the person you are helping. By showing warmth and understanding, you are further building on the trusting environment that you have created. The more you show the other person that you genuinely care about what they want to say, the more comfortable they will feel about sharing with you.

Don’t forget to look after yourself too! Here’s how you can take the perfect day off!

I hope you feel better equipped to support others. We all need to take a little more time to reach out, whether its for the benefit of ourselves or to show someone else that we care. Now you know how to be a better listener for others, take some time to reach out to those around you.

Look out for indicators that a friend, family member or co-worker may need a little helping hand. Here are my top three:

  • burnout
  • social seclusion
  • change in mood or behaviour

I hope that 2021 is a more peaceful and promising year for you all. Until my next post, always remember to take care and take a paws.

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