It is a simple fact of life that things do go wrong. Sometimes these misfortunes can be a nuisance and their effects
can be irritating. Other times these misfortunes can be devastating and their effects traumatic.
Such events often trigger feelings of worthlessness, loneliness, isolation and emotional hurt leading many into
experiencing feelings and thoughts of self-harm, even suicide. Having such thoughts can be terrifying and often leaves people
confused, frightened and unable to think clearly. The sufferer needs to ventilate such thoughts to regain clarity
For many, the essential first step in coming to terms with personal trauma that has caused emotional distress is to
simply get it off of one's chest as soon as possible. Storing up these experiences could
cause greater distress at some point in the future -whilst unburdening can bring great relief.
To diffuse these bad experiences , we need to be able to talk about them. This can be extremely difficult and should
never be pushed or forced upon a person. An interrogation is not nice. Instead these important discussions should be gently
Not only is it difficult for those effected by a trauma to verbally re-live the experience. It also requires someone
who can listen and empathize. It requires a special type of listener
The role of the listener is to facilitate emotional venting through which we can gain clarity. Listeners encourage the
free flow of pent up emotions, anger, stress, frustration, pain and other negative emotions which are troubling the speaker.Until
the speaker feels understood and an overwhelming emotional burden is lifted from the speaker: Stress and defensiveness are
reduced and clarity increases. This emotionally settles the speaker and their spirits rise. In this respect, LISTENING is
a valuable tool in an emotional First Aid Box.
This highly skilled form of listening is called EMPHATIC and it is very different to conversational listening. Usually
when we engage in a dialogue with someone, we tend to compete in the sharing of ideas, values and wit. In a sense the object
is to establish a pecking order based on different values. The most intelligent. The wisest. The funniest etc.
This conversational contest requires us to listen only to prepare our point scoring responses. However, Emphatic listening
requires us not to compete to be heard; score points nor take turns in speaking.On the contrary, a listener must be there
to encourage and applaud the speaker in coming to terms with their emotional distress. In this respect, the role of the listener
is to provide a non-threatening presence with which the speaker feels free to unburden.
Remember that Emphatic Listening is a highly specialist skill based upon a 3 step discipline...
- Attentive Listening.
- Problem Diagnosis.
- Solution Prescription.
As human beings we are accustomed to analysing problems as a means to finding solutions. This is not always compatible
with listening. Problems can arise when a listener is diagnosing when they ought to be listening.
This has resulted in listeners giving advice before fully understanding the situation. Speakers may pretend to accept the
advice given simply to shut the listener up. This serves to illustrate one important point: Both problem diagnosis and solution
prescription are not Listening skills - they are counselling ones. It really is advisable to address counselling issues to
properly trained and accredited counsellors.
Click here for LISTENING FIRST AID
As human beings we all want to be understood and listened to, and can feel hurt or insulted when we are not. As
a consequence, most of us spend about 70% of the day communicating, with 45% of that time spent listening. As listeners,
it is more important to focus upon what the speaker is saying. Very often a speaker is more interested in having someone who
will truly listen, than someone who keeps butting in with well meant suggestions and solutions.
Listening is an essential skill when relating to others who are suffering. It involves far more than simply
keeping quiet or agreeing until the other person shuts up and it's your turn to talk once again.
It is important that the listener...
- Allows the person with the problem to do most of the talking.
- Avoid premature conclusions based on my life experiences.
- Help the person to better understand themself
- Allow the person to remain in control.
- Show them that we are listening without judging.
It is more than hearing the words, it is truly understanding and accepting the other persons experience
so well you are able to identify with it. It is listening so intently and identifying so closely that you can virtually see the other person's situation. Good therapists do this and (more importantly) so can good friends. Please
be a good friend.