Don’t Fix It! Just Listen…

September 7th, 2011 by admin in Communication, Relationship, Support
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You know those times a friend or family member is really struggling and you want to make him or her feel better?  Maybe you’ve been in a similar situation and you have a really great idea of what would help.  Maybe you just hate to see someone you care about hurting and you want to take that pain away.  The best way to support someone when they are hurting is to LISTEN!

Just Listen.

Sounds easy enough, right?  Then why is it so hard?!?

For some people, listening doesn’t feel like enough.  You might want to DO something, FIX something or take away your friend’s pain.  Here’s the problem with trying to fix it.  Your loved one might not agree with your method of fixing…or she might not want to be fixed at all, but rather supported, heard, validated.  It’s so hard to feel sad or frustrated and then have someone else say, “You shouldn’t be upset, at least you …..”  or “Don’t be frustrated, it could be worse….”  That kind of invalidation doesn’t make anyone feel better.  Next time you have an impulse to make someone feel better, try listening.

So what does listening look like?

  • Active Listening can include – nodding or shaking your head or even small sounds (mmmm, oh or oh no).
  • You can validate her experience – “That does sound hard” or “I would be angry too.”
  • You can ask open-ended questions (questions that can’t be answered by yes or no) – “How do you feel about that?”  “What do you hope will happen?” or “What are you doing to take care of yourself?”
  • You can share your empathy or tell you friend you are sorry she is hurting.
  • If you really want to “fix” – ask if there is anything you can do to help.
  • And if you MUST share your opinion, ask if your opinion is wanted first – “I was in a similar situation, do you want to know what helped me?”

Don’t doubt the power of listening, validating and being there for your loved one.  You don’t have to know how to fix everything, just know how to listen….that is an incredible gift!

One Response to “Don’t Fix It! Just Listen…”

  1. Julie Jeske, M.S. Says:

    […] just close your mouth and listen.  If someone wants your opinion or wisdom, they will surely ask.  And they will remember how […]