10 Steps to Become a Good Listener And Make Someone Feel Better

Listening to someone who’s going through a hard time can a great way to help him and make him feel better. For oftentimes, people don’t really need solutions, they just need to feel understood and supported. Below are ways to help you become a good listener.

1. Reflect: reflecting is repeating back, in your own words, what the person has shared. This shows that you’re paying attention to what they’re saying.

2. Label their emotions: by identifying the person’s emotion you show them that you’re interested in how they're feeling and that you understand him. You can label their emotions by putting yourself in their place and imagining what would that make you feel (angry, frustrated, worried…).

3. Ask open questions: Those questions aren’t answered by a “yes” or “no” and these questions will help them open up and be able to talk more about it because some people find it hard to put their thoughts into words. It can go like this:

• What is the most important thing you want her to understand?

• What is the worst-case scenario?

• What do you don’t like about this situation?

4. Show empathy: We can’t always solve everyone’s problems, especially when they don’t want to be helped but simply to be understood. Showing empathy helps them feel less alone in this. To show that empathy, try to put yourself in their place and imagine what would you feel then tell them that you would feel that way, too, in their position.

5. Be supportive and non-judgmental: As a listener, you’re in no position to judge or criticize the person’s choices. Even when you don’t agree with them, try to see it as another point of view. 

6. Appreciate the person’s strengths: pointing out the person’s strengths helps them build their self-esteem and confidence to face their problems. Look out for anything that the person has done well is can be simply getting through the day when their mood is low or the fact that they reached out for help.

7. Never give advises: Giving advises not only takes away the person’s space to talk but also removes the opportunity for them to figure on their own the solution for their own problem. Moreover, the person is the expert of their situation and you can’t know every detail of the situation. Instead, help them see the issue clearer throughout the discussion and then ask them what they feel like they should do.

8. Never give personal opinions: People chose based on their values, so right and wrong choices don’t exist. If you have different values than the person you’re listening to, that doesn’t make them wrong and that doesn’t make you right.

9. Don’t take it personally: If the person is frustrated and angry, try to understand the way they're feeling and how difficult they might find it to express himself.

10. Ending the conversation: some conversation will reach a natural conclusion, for others you might need to take the lead on bringing the conversation to a conclusion. You can do that by saying “We’ve covered a lot of ground, how do you feel right now?” or simply tell them that you’ll need to go in few minutes so you’ll give them a chance to talk and close up in what’s left of the time, and you can always offer to stay in touch had they needed to talk further about some other time.

Not every discussion should end up with a solution; the mere fact that you’ve listened, understood and showed empathy might make the person feel a lot better and empowered to face their problem.

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