The chances are quite good that at some point in your life you met someone who just never seemed to listen to a thing you said. Maybe a parent, co-worker, boss, or loved one who was caught up with you in a destructive pattern of behavior that limited your beliefs and how you saw yourself in that world. Even if you went to counseling or found other ways of numbing out, you still discovered they were the same (even when you tried to change). Trying to change or fix someone else never works. Listening is always a better alternative, so find out how you can try it and make some progress in embracing those people in your life who are challenging.
When you listen well to someone, you really hear where they are coming from and seek a pathway of understanding about their situation. It is about being present, mindful, and actively engaged in their life. The following are some ways to get engaged in a listening conversation with a loved one:
- Acknowledge and validate. Nodding your head or offering a verbal cue can help tell the other person they are being heard. It indicates in that moment you are honoring their feelings above yours. Validation does not equal approval. It simply means you are hearing their side of things and agree to be present for that moment.
- Breathe. A lot. Deeping breaths come from the lungs, not the belly. That can exacerbate anxiety or feelings of nervousness. To listen well, it helps to take a deep breath slowly, then breathe out slowly. It helps to take a step back (in a sense) and provide space when you want to react to what was said or done in a moment. Breathing quietly can help you process what happened so you can be more present in that moment.
- No advice at all. It is not easy to resist the temptation to dispense advice to a loved one who perceives needing it for benefit of counsel. The danger of offering unsolicited advice is suggesting what you think you know as being better than what the other person knows. This risks condescension, no matter how hard you try to pass judgment.
- Turn belief into action. Encouraging signs of growth can be helpful in a person where seeing something happen is to believe it is real. When someone sees you listening well, their defenses may go down and you can reach them further into the depths of their soul whereas not listening can keep walls of defense so high you cannot reach them.
Live by example, teach by example, and work at implementing these strategies into your life little by little. Soon enough it will seem like second nature to listen well and you might just find you help make a difference not only for others, but in your own life as well.
Sound Recovery helps you take positive next steps in your journey of healing from addiction. We never pass judgment, we accept and listen to your story as well as work to heal your mind, body, and spirit with programs, resources, therapy, and other resources tailored to meet your needs. We are here to guide you through the steps to recovery. If you are struggling with addiction, let us help. Call us at 561-277-3088 to get started.