If you are grieving the loss of a loved one or a dramatic life change due to injury or disease, chances are others around you are grieving too. Knowing how to listen makes you better able to support others. Listening is a vital skill for Threads of Life’s Volunteer Family Guides – but others can learn it too. Following are some clues to good listening, from the Resource Manual for Volunteer Family Guides.
You are listening to me when you:
- Come quietly into my private world and let me be me
- Really try to understand me when I do not make much sense
- Grasp my point of view even when it goes against your sincere convictions
- Feel tired and drained after our conversation
- Allow me to make my own decisions, and
- Give me enough room to discover for myself why I feel upset, and enough time to think for myself what is best.
Other signs that you are listening to me are that you:
- Do not tell me the funny story you were bursting to tell me
- Do not take my problem from me, but trust me to deal with it in my own way
- Resist giving me advice, and
- Graciously receive my gratitude by telling me it is good to know you have helped.
You are not listening to me when you:
- Say you understand before you know me well enough
- Have an answer for my problem before I have finished telling you what the problem is
- Interrupt me
- Finish my sentences for me
- Are communicating with someone else in the room, and
- Try to sort out the details and are not aware of the feelings.
Other signs that you are not listening to me are that you:
- Feel critical of my grammar or accent
- Need to feel successful
- Tell me about your experiences that make mine seem unimportant, and
- Refuse my thanks by saying you have not really done anything.