How to Be A Good Listener
I am so blessed to have a few good friends in my life, but sometimes I wonder why I don’t have a ton of friends. I see these people and they just have tons and tons of friends and I have always wanted to be like that, but then when it gets down to it, it turns out to be a fun relationship (every relationship should have an aspect of fun and carefree energy), but that’s all some of them end up being. Sure, that’s a friend, but you can really only do that for about an hour or so.
One of my bubblier friends has recently been wondering why her relationships don’t get deeper and how she can get there. So, I thought I would give some tips on getting people to go deeper with you. I swear, I will walk into places, sit down and people will start telling me their life story. So here it is on the friendship front.
- Be a good listener – Sometimes people aren’t really listening, they are listening to respond and attempting to interpret what is being said based on themselves, not the person. Just listen, this is not the time for you to boast your knowledge or prove how cool you are. Just listen.
- Don’t judge – No matter what comes out of the person’s mouth, don’t make it a big deal. When someone says, “I hate when blah, blah, blah,” don’t respond with, “You shouldn’t say ‘hate,’” or “That’s harsh.” This is not the time to insert your standards or your “superiority” in thought, because, let’s be honest, no one is perfect. Just let them vent. Words really shouldn’t offend you that much.
- Ask more questions and give less advice – I think people love to give advice because of their pride. I’ve gotten some of the worst advice in the world when I wasn’t even looking for it. Giving advice makes us feel good about ourselves. It validates us in a weird way, but can actually push people away. Just ask them questions about the situation, even if you do know what to do. Also, ask if they want your opinion, because they could just be venting. If you have followed steps 1 and 2, people will want your advice because you have created a safe space for them.
- Let people be themselves, don’t push them to be like you. When I first started dating my ex, we were getting to know each other really quickly; we are both older and value genuine conversation a lot more than fluff, so we just spent two weeks like reeaaalllly getting to know each other. One of my acquaintances gave me the advice to be light and talk about favorite colors and favorite seasons and to just have fun. I mentioned this to him and his response was, “How is that supposed to connect me to your soul?” I was so grateful for that response. It validated that being who I naturally am was the best course of action in our situation (and in every situation honestly) . Don’t try to make people like you because their destiny is not connected to them imitating you. Your way of living life is not the only path of living life. Let people do them and be themselves, or you will lose them if their self-esteem is healthy.
- Compliment and uplift – When someone bears their soul don’t say things like, “Oh that sucks.” Come at what is being said from a positive perspective. Be genuine, but never, ever, ever put the person down. Be honest, but don’t make them feel like they need to be something different. For instance, say things like, “I see that you are a good person and want to be the best version of yourself, maybe try this…”
- Validate their emotions – Sometimes people just need to know that they are loved and valued. The simple fact that everyone can feel anger and sadness means that sadness and anger are available to feel. Understand why and how they can feel that way. Have empathy and try to connect with their reason why.
- Do not bring yourself into their situation – If that person is not you, they are not you. I’ve had people give me advice on what they are going through. That person may not have the same struggle as you and don’t assume they do. If the situations are similar, make statements like, “I have experienced something similar, here is what I did.”
- Don’t repeat what you are told – Seriously, keep your mouth shut. A couple of friends were sharing information with me and they both said, about the same person, that this person accidentally told so-and-so this. I don’t really understand how you accidentally tell someone’s personal business, but okay. Just don’t repeat things, this is the quickest way to never be trusted again.
- Listen, Listen, Listen – I cannot stress enough that you need to be listening. There is nothing worse in the world than spending 20 minutes sharing for someone to give you advice that you said you already tried. Listen. Not just to what’s being said but try to hear what they meant to say. LISTEN!
I hope that helps those of you at a loss as to why people aren’t going deeper with you and to position yourselves for a different level of relationships.
XO - Camille