So you think you’re a great listener . . .
You may be a great listener already, or you may have room to improve, but either way, you’ll benefit from learning what great listener’s DON’T do.
1. Expect random meetups to cover all the bases
“I trust my friend will come to me when they need an ear.”
“Things work themselves out.”
“Friendships grow naturally.”
No! These are all false thoughts. Can you spot why?
Your friend may be too embarrassed or hurt to seek out help when they need it. Have you ever been suicidal, or deeply ashamed of yourself? Both of these states lead to silence and hiding. Do your friend — and yourself — a favor: have regular check in points, and be sure to talk about real stuff.
“Things” may work themselves out all right, but not the way you hope. A friend might grow weak or turn venom in on themselves while you’re busy trusting to the universe to take care of them. If you let go of your role as a great listener, your friend might suffer for it. Do the responsible thing. Schedule time. Talk, regularly.
Friendships do naturally grow. But so do weeds. If you don’t take an active part in addressing your friend’s needs, they may end up worse for the wear.
2. Split your attention
You probably guessed this would be coming based on the article’s accompanying picture. Well done.
Reading a book while trying to be there for someone would be an obvious example of deprioritizing them. Watching a movie, or TV, likewise. But would you recognize the sin in listening to the radio while your friend is talking? Texting? Doing a google search?
Even if the conversation seems to be going naturally down one of these paths, stop, consider, and choose another. Yes, your friend might benefit from having you get a hold of someone via text to help with their problem, but do you really need to do that right now, while your friend is still defining the problem to you? No, you don’t. And you’ll both be better off if you refrain.