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longgone's avatar

What are your ways of helping people feel "heard"?

Asked by longgone (13811points) October 17th, 2017

Everyone needs a different type of comforting, and I have a hard time knowing how to navigate that sea of potential misunderstandings. Have you found a good strategy?

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7 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I actually do this for a living, and I train others to do it, too.

I listen to people.

I never ask them what’s wrong. Instead, I ask them to tell me what happened to them, and then I stay quiet and listen.

There will be correlations that closely resemble aspects of my own story. When appropriate, I share bits of my own story that I think are relatable and that may give the other person an idea about how to move through their own situation.

It sounds simple, but it’s very difficult. It is very hard for us to remain silent and simply listen when a person may be talking about some difficulty. We are trained from the time we’re small to listen in order to solve the problem we’re hearing about.

Listening to solve is not a constructive way to go about this common occurrence. It’s much more effective to simply listen and tell the person we hear them.

I cannot count the number of people who have told me I’m the first person who ever listened to them. I am the only one who really heard them.

The training program I run includes 24 sessions. One is introductory and one is review, so there are 22 substantive sessions. Of those 22 sessions, three whole sessions are devoted to learning how to listen. 13.6% are about listening. That’s an enormous amount of time devoted to what seems simple.

The reason, however, is indeed simple. Listening to others – really hearing others – is vitally important to our lives together on this Earth.

Be quiet. Listen.

seawulf575's avatar

I agree with @Hawaii_Jake. God gave us two ears and one mouth and we need to learn to use them in that ratio.

JLeslie's avatar

I listen, and I paraphrase.

Aethelwine's avatar

I can’t say it any better than @Hawaii_Jake. I’ve needed to be heard more than being the listener during the past year or so, so I can only tell you what I wish for.

Show compassion and don’t judge. Don’t question what a person did or how things came about. Just listen. People need to vent. Offer an ear of support. This is not the time for lectures.

funkdaddy's avatar

Great answers above, one thing I’d like to add that I’ve only learned in the last few years.

Sometimes I’m just not the right person. Being well intentioned and empathetic goes a long long way, it makes you the right person to help a lot of people who need to feel heard, but sometimes I’m just not a fit for whatever reason. That’s ok too, there are usually other ways to help.

There’s times where you’re the right person just because you’re there, but I’d say for most situations that’s not the case. Part of helping is not causing more harm.

Some people’s situation makes me uncomfortable and that will show, sometimes there’s a communication issue, sometimes I’m not in a place to help. It’s better to recognize that early and find genuine ways to do more good than to wait until one or both sides are frustrated and you’ve lost that level of trust.

To me it’s like seeing someone broke down on the highway. I want to help, and in a lot of situations I can and have helped. But a lot of times I’ll stop and all I can really do is make sure everyone is all right, help them make a phone call, and get things moved on to someone better qualified.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

Listen to them.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Mirroring back what they say to you.

Example dialogue: What? So your wife wants a divorce?

Wait for response:Then say ” what happened?
Wait for a response..then…If I got a letter like that I would feel bad too.
Wait for a response: then So what can you do about it now?
Wait for a response: and by this time the person figures out his own solutions.

Sometimes one has to repeat the problem outside of that person for him/her to understand the impact and figure out a solution as if it was someone else’s other words they begin to look at their problem objectively instead of emotionally.

Sometimes no words , just a HUG helps.

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