Everyone needs someone to just listen every now and again.
At the heart of good communication lies the skill of active listening. Being a good listener can help you understand and connect with people better, gain insights into their thoughts and feelings, and build trust and empathy.
The first thing to do is establish if you’re listening only, or if your friend wants advice too. You can ask them “do you want me to share my advice, or just listen for now?”
Here are some tips on how to be a good listener:
- Be present: When you’re listening to someone, it’s important to be fully present in the moment. Avoid distractions, put away your phone or any other gadgets, and focus your attention on the person speaking.
- Pay attention: Good listeners pay close attention to what the speaker is saying. This means not only listening to their words, but also observing their body language, tone of voice, and emotions.
- Show interest: Show the speaker that you’re interested in what they have to say. Nod your head, make eye contact, and provide verbal cues such as “Uh-huh,” “I see,” or “Tell me more” to encourage them to share.
- Don’t interrupt: Interrupting the speaker can be disruptive and disrespectful. Let them finish their thoughts before asking questions or sharing your own thoughts.
- Ask open-ended questions: Open-ended questions encourage the speaker to elaborate on their thoughts and feelings. Instead of asking a yes or no question, try asking “How do you feel about that?” or “Can you tell me more about that?”
- Clarify: If you’re unsure about something the speaker said, ask for clarification. This shows that you’re paying attention and that you want to understand their perspective.
- Avoid judgment: Good listeners avoid judging the speaker or their ideas. Instead, they seek to understand and empathize with the speaker’s point of view.
- Reflect: Reflecting on what the speaker said can help you understand their perspective better. Summarize what they said and repeat it back to them to ensure that you’re both on the same page.
How can I reach Samaritans?
If you’re going through a difficult time, Samaritans are always here to listen, at any time, day or night. You can call Samaritans for free on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and a volunteer will email you back.
How can I donate?
If you’d like to donate to Samaritans and our Walk & Talk Week, visit our JustGiving page here or text ANYTIME to 70480. A donation of £5 can directly fund a call for help from someone struggling to cope.