- July 21, 2021
- Posted by: Charlotte Rodrigues
- Category: News
This month the Samaritans are encouraging people to become better listeners with their Talk To Us campaign. Becoming a better listener can help you support loved ones who may be struggling to cope. It can also help improve your relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. You could help your loved ones open up about how they’re feeling by making some small changes to the way you listen. They have asked people to pledge one of the following things:
- I pledge to listen without being distracted
- I pledge to listen without interrupting
- I pledge to check in with my loved ones more often and ask them how they really are
- I pledge to check in with my colleagues more often and ask them how they really are
Naomi Greene, PeoplePlus Wellbeing Advisor tells us more about the impotance of listening.
We all have conversations, whether it be with close ones, colleagues in the office, or even the dog (or am I the only one that gives my dog options of where to go for her daily walk?!). I’m sure a lot of those conversations start with asking how someone is, unless of course the following is happening:
The middle of summer- “How warm is it today?!”
The middle of winter- “How cold is it today?! Baltic!”
First day back in January- “Did you have a nice Christmas?”
I think we get the picture. Have a think about the last conversation you had with someone, do you remember more of what you said or what they said? A lot of the time we focus on the information we are putting out, rather than what we are getting back, especially in casual settings.
We have 2 ears and 1 mouth, so should we be making more effort to listen?
Of course, not every conversation we have needs for us to study every word of what that person has said, but it can help us to become much better communicators.
Not only that, but you may also learn a lot more from the conversation. In terms of wellbeing, this may help you to sense when someone is not expressing themselves in a way that they normally would or are expressing concerns or emotions. We may feel we know our friends, colleagues, and families well, but I’m sure we could all be better listeners.
If someone does seem down or not themselves, or have come to you to discuss an issue, consider some of these tips around the theme of ‘2 ears 1 mouth’ for being a better listener, helping people with their wellbeing and helping to strengthen your relationships.
- No interrupting-
Let’s ensure we are doing double the listening, to talking.
Let the person express themselves, this may be the first time they have felt comfortable enough to relay an event or delve into their feelings with someone.
- Seek a good moment to interrupt-
Of course I’m not suggesting sit in silence and offer zero response, but wait for a good opportunity, allow for pauses, even silence at times, just make it clear you are actively listening.
- Hear and respond to emotions behind the words-
With active listening, try to take in what that individual is saying, whilst looking deeper than the words.
We’ve all told people we are fine, even when we are not, so if we always took people on their initial word alone, we would miss some clear signs of distress.
- Don’t assume they want your advice-
This is a big one.
Be aware that the individual may just want to be getting something off their chest and may not be looking for advice.
Plus, are more likely to take the advice if they already agree with it.
If an individual is sharing concerns with you, the last thing they need is for you to overreact.
Instead, try to do the opposite. This does not mean to play down their emotions or experiences, but instead it means to stay calm, give short words of encouragement and ask open questions.
If you are really not sure, just take the overall advice to SHUSH:
Show you care
Use open-ended questions
Say it back (reflect & clarify)
This month as the Samaritans promote their Talk To Us #welisten campaign they raise awareness that they are here to listen to anyone who’s struggling to cope, at any time of the day or night.
You can call Samaritans for free 24/7. Whatever you’re going through you can call them without judgement or pressure from any phone on 116 123.
‘We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.’– Epictetus (Greek philosopher)