Saturday, 13 November 2010

How to help someone without saying a thing

I read an article from Tiny Buddha website written by Harriet Cabelly. And it is about listening. Below is the gist of the article.

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”  Benjamin Disraeli

Listening is a very powerful tool but unfortunately not well utilized. If we normal people can listen better, then we do not need to pay for counsellors. Most of us just need someone to talk to, confide in, just have a safe place to unload and vent or rant. Everyone needs to feel heard and acknowledged. 

Many people we encounter (including ourselves), do seem a little self-centered in their conversation. Everything they say is about "me, me, me", they seldom ask the other party questions.

Tips to Listen Fully 

1. Realize the distinction between listening and hearing. Hearing is an auditory/physiological process. Listening involves the whole person—mind, heart and soul.  Attentiveness, interest, and concern need to shine through. Listen with your whole self. Forget yourself for a short while and show an interest. There’s so much to learn from people.  Everybody has a story.

2. Reflect back on what the other says. Comment on it; it makes them feel heard.  All too often we bring it back to ourselves.  Let people feel that it’s all about them for that moment.

3. Be present and stay focused. Stay with the other person’s talk.  It’s obvious when the listener is simply thinking about his next comment.

4. Ask questions—meaningful ones, not the concrete 5 W questions (where, what, who, when, why).  It shows you really want to understand the other person, not just participate at the bare minimum.

5.  Acknowledge feelings. I know this can sound like touchy feely stuff.  But it’s the crux of good communication.  It’s worth repeating again: when people feel understood, they’re less likely to get defensive and argumentative.

Harriet wrote, "As human beings, our visceral need is to feel held, with words, rather than to receive solutions. When we get the space and understanding we need, we can usually come to our own answers.  And if not, there’s always time to brainstorm for possible solutions. In the simple act of listening, you can reveal much to someone else.  What if we all just listened more?"


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