Five tips to improve your listening skills and help your mates!
Life is tough. This modern age of social media and connectivity is incredible at helping us to keep in touch with friends all over the world, but it is also a terrible portrayal of real life. No one posts to Instagram the bad things they might be going through, only this made up version of their experiences.
This method of airbrushing out the negative aspects for our public persona is terrible for creating genuine interaction with our friends as no one is quite aware of what exactly we are all going through. This problem is particularly compounded with men, as many bury their emotions deep down and do not share them with anyone.
Whilst this is slowly changing and men are beginning to be brave enough to share how they are feeling, as a guy it is sometimes a little difficult to be open and approachable too our mates. However, by encouraging our friends to share their emotions more we can in turn create healthier environment for everyone. In order to become a genuinely good listener, there are a number of things you can do:
1) Encourage an honest chat.
Yep, the first part of being able to truly listen to someone is ensuring they understand that they can completely open up to you. Let them know they can vent their frustrations, fears and feelings to you whenever they need to.
2) Find somewhere to talk
We are all guilty of telling our mates just how much we love them on those late nights after a few beers, but that does not help anyone truly unload their burdens. If your mate needs a chat, invite them round for a coffee and remove all distractions such as your phone and TV so they know it’s just you two.
3) Focus on them
When they’re talking to you, maintain eye contact, frame what you hear back to them and ask them questions about what they’re talking about. Listening is not just about being silent but communicating directly on the subject matter being discussed. Don’t delve into related stories in an attempt to diffuse the situation, let them get everything off their chest as they need to.
4) Don’t make judgements
This is probably the hardest aspect of listening as it is a natural human reaction to do. We all have conceived notions of our friends based off this public persona they put out but when they are comfortable enough to truly open up you will realise a lot of what they show is an act; don’t judge them on this, focus on what is causing them to create this persona. Talking about ourselves openly is rare, so you should be honoured they trust you enough to reveal the true them
5) Work together
Once they have unloaded their feelings, your mate will likely feel like a huge weight has been removed from their shoulders. As the famous saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved and with you understanding exactly what is going on you can work together to find solutions. That said, men are natural problem solvers, so you might be tempted to jump in with solutions when instead you might just need to offer your friend your listening skills to help them.
Listening is not just about sitting there and hearing words. To truly listen you need to engage with your mates and let them know you are there for them. Of course whatever they tell you should be kept just between you two and not passed on – when they are comfortable enough they will share it with others.
If you are finding you are unable to open up and aren’t sure where to turn to, or if your friend is struggling and feel they could need more professional advice, then seeking out the expertise of a coach can really help. They will have seen and heard everything and will be able to provide impartial advice that will help get your life back on track and help you to rediscover true happiness.