No matter who you are or where you’re at in your life journey, every one of us feels better if we have an opportunity to talk about our feelings. It’s very common to have words and emotions bottled up inside, needing to be released in some form or another. Doesn’t it feel good when you have the chance to sit with your best buddy over a tub of ice cream and let it all out? Or give your sibling a big hug and let him or her know what’s wrong? It’s nice to know that people are listening and that they really care.

Listening is not always easy and in the same way that we look for people to listen to us, we need to listen to others – your friends, your parents, your children, etc. – they all need a listening ear as well.

Want to try your ear at being a better listener? Here are three suggestions:

  1. Listen with your body: Body language speaks volumes; simply by looking your friend in the eyes, and turning your body in his or her direction, your friend will know that you’re engaged in the conversation and realize that he or she has your undivided attention.
  2. Provide feedback: Simple responses, such as “Uh-huh,” “I see,” “Oh, really” and periodic head nods demonstrate that you’re interested in what your friend is sharing. However, going overboard and interrupting or waiting for your friend to simply finish talking before providing encouraging prompts to indicate you’re listening is not considered positive feedback. Stay relevant to the topic and sympathize or, if possible, empathize with the person who is talking – even if you don’t necessarily agree with everything he or she is saying.
  3. Focus: Concentrate on what your friend is sharing. Don’t think about what you are going to make for dinner, how your hair looks, or anything aside from what your friend is sharing. Don’t prepare for your next remark; simply focus on what your friend has to share. It’s easy to become self-centred and lose focus but the key to being a good listener is to concentrate on being other-centred, putting aside your thoughts so you can fully focus on what your friend is saying.

It is comforting to know someone cares enough about us to set aside time to listen. So give others a good dose of encouragement by letting them know you’re listening to them.

Feel like nobody’s listening to you? Your Life Counts is here for you. If you ever need to talk anonymously, openly and confidentially, submit your request here. You can also share your story with us, and with those who may also be looking for help. We care about you!