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We so often don’t hear what others are telling us because we are already making our own interpretations.
Most of us like to hear ourselves talk. We enjoy sharing information about ourselves, our jobs, and our recent activities. But being a good listener is an essential skill in maintaining strong personal relationships, whether with relatives or with our friends.
So how do we become a better listener or speaker? Follow us in today’s Best Pick!
I recently took a bus for the first time since covid-19 descended on us all, and couldn’t help hearing the conversation of two women sitting behind me. It went something like this.
‘I’m so worried about Bill. I know there is something seriously bothering him because he’s snappy, which isn’t like him. He was like that a while ago… Now it is like that again and he keeps batting me away if I ask anything—’
‘—My sister’s husband’s like that,’ her companion interjected. ‘He keeps everything to himself, even when it is something good. It drives my sister mad.’
In the short silence that followed, I had to leave my seat to exit the bus and didn’t hear how, or if, the conversation progressed.
As I continued my journey, I reflected on how the first speaker must have felt. She was expressing concern that her husband/father/son was again hiding symptoms of possibly serious illness, yet her friend wanted to tell her own story.
Many people ‘listen’ like that. They mean well and think they are showing interest by relating the circumstance they are hearing about to something that they themselves have experienced, whereas, in reality, they are cutting off what the speaker wanted to express.
We so often don’t hear what others are telling us because we are already making our own interpretations or bringing in our own assumptions. It is why counselors commonly apply the skill of paraphrasing – listening to the client (who may be pouring out a convoluted story in an emotional rush) and then feeding back, in their own words, a shortened version of what they think they have heard so that the client can correct them if they have got it wrong. It is a skill we can all benefit from using: ‘So, if I have got this right, Mandy, what you are saying here is that…?’
Knowing what to say is also a form of listening.
I remember a woman who was undergoing treatment for advanced cancer and a woman whose husband had tragically died both saying how hurt they were when they saw someone they knew cross the street rather than speak to them, or a friend stopped phoning.
The individuals probably crossed the street or failed to phone because they didn’t know what they could say that would help. They were embarrassed. Yet expressing something simple with genuine caring, such as ‘I am so sorry to hear about your illness/your husband’s death’, means another’s distress is acknowledged – and that can be what matters most.
I imagine it would have been more helpful for the worried woman on the bus if her friend had said, ‘Oh, how dreadful for you. You must be so concerned.’
In which case, what helps is simply to let someone feel heard.
Source: Psychology Today
That’s all for today’s [Best Pick] !
Do you how to be a good listener? Leave your comments to let us know!
See you next time! 🙂