One great way to feel more positivity in your life is to find ways to spread positivity to others. Doing things that make other people feel good reflects good feelings back to you. It also strengthens your relationships and encourages the people you help to “pay it forward” by bringing positivity to others.
When somebody in your life wants to talk to you about a challenge they’re facing, being an active listener can help them get their feelings out and reflect on them in a productive way. People need to vent sometimes, and often, venting puts somebody into an emotionally vulnerable position. Be the friend others feel comfortable venting to. Be an active listener.
Respond in Affirmative Ways to Show you’re Listening
While you listen to your friend, regularly give indications that you’re listening. These can be as simple as nods and “mmhmm” responses. At regular intervals, summarize what your friend has told you. This not only shows that you’re paying attention, but it gives him or her the chance to correct any details you got wrong.
Summarize What you Hear in an Accurate, Non-Judgmental Way
At key points in the conversation, relay that you’re listening closely by summarizing what your friend has told you. But be careful not to add your own biases to your summary.
For example, let’s say your friend is telling you about the stress she’s feeling at work because she feels her suggestions are being ignored.
- Do not say “it sounds like you’re not making your points clearly enough;”
- Instead, say “it sounds like you’re very frustrated about the situation at work.”
The goal of active listening is to help your friend determine the solutions to her difficulties by talking through them as you listen compassionately. Unless she specifically asks if you think she’s approaching the situation ineffectively, do not tell her that she should approach it differently.
Ask for Clarification When you Need It
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s better to ask what you think is a dumb question and gain a full understanding of what you’re being told than it is to avoid asking questions and fail to truly understand.
Listen Without Giving Advice
As mentioned above, active listening does not involve giving advice. It does involve labeling the emotions you observe, emotions that your friend might not be able to articulate because of their closeness to the situation. For example, your friend might say he’s angry about a situation, you might recognize that he feels frustrated about being undermined. By giving emotions specific labels, you can help your friend think through their situation while validating their emotions about it.
Learn More About Making Positive Lifestyle Changes with Nadia
Active listening is one of the most useful social skills you can learn. To learn more about becoming a more compassionate listener and more emotionally intelligent in general, schedule your consultation with Nadia Khalil today.