You often hear the phrase “it’s good to talk” but to listen and be listened to is important for our mental health. Giving someone our attention can mean the world and being listened to is uplifting.
Now more that ever in this COVID world, mental isolation has become a threat to our collective mental health. Anxiety often leads to unpleasant physical effects, repetitive unhelpful thoughts, a focus on problems and a breakdown in our ability to communicate even with those closest to us.
Of course, I specialize in using hypnotherapy to reduce anxiety. It can will and does work but I want to share these easy everyday tips that might just make a difference.
When we shift our focus to others it can make our lives richer, happier and more productive.
At the moment I have 2 roles. I am also a Support Worker in the NHS. Long shifts are much easier when you are mentally and physically healthy. You can easily focus on the people in your care without distraction. We are there to support, not be supported. There are be reviews and supervisions to voice our concerns and register our achievements. It was during one of these that it struck me just how lost the art of listening has become and what lead me to write this article.
We are swamped by virtual reality/ social media. Globally communicating with each other but It seems that most people have forgotten how to communicate with someone 2m away.
5 Tips on the Art of Listening
Any small positive change will bring more rewards than we can see coming. These small steps can help improve your marriage, friendships, family and work relationships.
The next time someone wants to talk to you, why not try to:
1.Give them your undivided attention. It shows how important they are to you. When you pay attention only to them, it makes them feel good, you’ll also understand them better.
Stop whatever else you’re doing. Put your phone down(!) Stay in the moment, listening to what they’re saying. Avoid letting your mind wander or thinking about what you’ll say next.
2.Make eye contact. Yes it might be on Zoom. Failure to make eye contact can make it seem as though you aren’t paying any attention to the conversation. One trick to help you maintain eye contact is to focus on just one of their eyes at a time. (autistic tip: focus on just below one eyebrow at a time, it makes neurotypical people feel more comfortable and trusting).
Not too much and not too little. Staring can be aggressive and intimidating. Not enough eye contact and it’s can come across as you are just not that interested. So, by all means look away but focus again quickly so they know that you’re still paying them attention.
3.When they stop talking, repeat what you just heard them say (in your own words). This helps you understand as it gives them chance to agree or explain more. Clearing up exactly what they are saying before jumping in with your own thoughts and views.
4.Ask questions. We are not mind readers and no 2 people view the world in the same way. Ask if you don’t fully understand. Appropriate questions signal we’re listening and trying to understand. Assuming often leads to misunderstanding.
Use what, how, when and where. They are much gentler ways to start a question than Why….? Why can sound aggressive and put people on the defensive.
5.Avoid interrupting. No one feels heard when they are interrupted, talked over or heavens to Betsy, have the subject changed. Losing their train of thought.
Sometimes people are just looking to get something off their chest. Let them finish. Sometimes just accepting what they have to say is enough to make them feel better.
Peoples own struggles are valid and shouldn’t be put on a scale. If someone has a broken toe its no good telling them about a person with a broken leg. We all deserve to be heard.
Feeling understood leads to connection We have high depression and suicide rates and people can unknowingly invalidate others through carelessness or distraction. Little things do make a difference practicing these easy listening tips will help uplift others, avoid misunderstandings and strengthen your relationships. Now doesn’t that make you smile?
Hypnotherapy can help you to improve your skills/ cope with anxiety. Booking an appointment with me means I’ll be your guide. Helping to empower you, not just to cope but to live the life you love.