“People don’t always need advice. Sometimes all they need is an ear that would listen and a heart that would understand.”
Why does it take a person’s death and a telecast of his misery to make us aware of mental health and its benefits? Finally, people have begun to talk about the relevance of expressing emotions and feelings. There are posts that are being put up asking people to come and talk regarding anything they need to. Sure, it’s important to talk, but what about listening? Isn’t it equally important? Are we prepared, and do we have the assets to comfort someone who is going through something very distressing?
When a person pours out what he is going through, he usually expects to get comfort from the person he is talking to. One should always listen to understand rather than respond. Most of the time, just talking to someone makes the person feel better. It’s not always important to decide and make conclusions about their problems then and there. It’s natural that we don’t understand what the other person is going through, it’s not possible. But we can make them realize that they’re being heard, no matter what. It is important to show empathy rather than sympathy. Try to be in their shoes, but don’t forget to take them off. It ‘s important that you don’t let it have a negative impact on you.
Mindful listening is a very effective way to show someone that you care about by listening without any judgements, criticisms or interruptions, while at the same time being aware of the internal thoughts and reactions that may get in the way of people communicating with you effectively. How do we do that?
Here are a few important things to keep in mind when listening to someone:
- Never judge or ridicule someone else’s problems. You don’t know what’s going on in their minds and how vulnerable they are.
- Never indulge in any other activity, such as watching TV, texting someone else, or reading something, when you realize that someone is sharing something serious with you.
- Don’t form opinions or goals in your mind before listening. Try to keep a clean slate.
- Do not form any opinions regarding the person dependent upon the situation they are going through.
- Do not push them to tell you everything at once. Make them feel comfortable and let them trust you, and they will automatically open up to you.
- Do not suggest any solutions or options until and unless you are very sure.
- Try to show them unconditional acceptance and unbiased reflection.
- Show that you are attentive by nodding or making a verbal sound.
- A very important aspect of mindful listening is being non-judgemental. You should not evaluate the statements of the person to be right or wrong immediately.
- Sometimes when something very heavy is said, it is followed by silence. That silence is the space for the listener to absorb and the speaker to process what he had just said. Do not try to rush and fill that silence by urging the person to add more or explain what he just said.
- If you don’t understand what they were saying, ask them and clarify instead of assuming something on your own.
- Paraphrasing is a way to communicate that you are listening. It shows that you followed the conversation. A recent study, by Weger et al., 2010, found that paraphrasing doesn’t necessarily make people feel understood, but it does create a sense of closeness and intimacy in a conversation. This is a key part of building trust and comfort.
- Ultimately, there are some problems that simple conversations cannot solve. If you realize that the person is a major psychological problem, make them realize that they need to see a professional regarding it.
We just need someone or something to keep us moving in these unpredictable times. Today, mental health needs more dedication, awareness, and importance more than ever. The need to take care of yourself and others should not be a luxury. This is a need. Need of the hour.