Listening With An Open Heart
Being A Good Listener
Everyone appreciates a good listener. We all know how wonderful it is to be able to have someone to share our life with, whether it is the joys and frustrations of being a new parent, the excitement of a new career, the heartache of a lost love, or simple chitchat. At times, we all want and need to be heard. It is equally important then that we develop the skills to lend a helping ear to others.
Being a good listener means being an active listener by being fully present when someone is talking to you. Making eye contact when someone is speaking helps to connect us to one another. It also keeps us focused on what is being said, rather than what we are thinking. We need to not only hear words, but also to read body language and understand feelings. It goes without saying that we shouldn't interrupt someone when they are talking, or to judge and criticize, but often we fall into such habits without being conscious of them. By being fully present when someone is speaking we are better able to simply listen and give advice only if we are asked.
We don't have to agree with everything or anything that is being said, but listening with an open mind is respectful to the speaker and it allows us to understand the other person and ourselves better. By letting go of assumptions and hearing what is being said, as well as the tone of voice the speaker is using, we can better understand our differences and perhaps find some similarities.
Reflect back to the speaker that you understand and empathize with their feelings of happiness, anxiety, and/or sadness. Ask questions if you don't understand, but respect boundaries if the speaker seems uncomfortable. Sometimes, being a good listener means listening to the silence in between words. Being a good listener is easy - simply listen with your ears, as well as your heart.
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