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#25 Why Active Listening is an act of love and how to listen.5

We live in a noisy world. Whether it’s face-to-face, on TV, radio, or in social media, everybody, it seems, is talking … but very few are really listening.

I’ve been in conversation with people, and a thought pops up in my head’ This person is really listening to me!’ It’s rare to find a genuinely attentive person and one who is interested in what you have to say. It’s truly fab when somebody actually takes the time to stop and listen to you. Active listening Active listening involves being genuine, non-judgemental, and having empathy, which is all part of communication. When actively listening, your attention is focused on the other person to understand, interpret, and evaluate what they are sharing with you. In these challenging and rapidly changing times, to show our loved ones we are listening is an act of love, but how good are we at it? I have to confess; I am not naturally a good listener. I’m born to talk. But, as a cheeky, young apprentice hairdresser at 14, I was told I had to talk to people because having something interesting to say will help the customers to keep coming back.

I used to think that communication was all about me talking and showing other people how much I knew. But that is not the case. I had to learn ‘how to listen, as most of us do. I had to learn the skills and learn how to use the tools to help me to listen. I leant many listening skills when I read psychology at Cambridge, where we would do workshops on listening. This helped me immensely, and I wished I had done this when I was younger. However, that was then, and this is now. Now, so often, people tell me that I am a good listener, but it took a few years to learn how and develop the habit. But it didn’t end there. I suspect that you, like me need to keep working on it. To develop listening skills, we need to take the time to understand someone else, even when we disagree with them. Listening, I believe, is one of the most important, the most powerful life skills that we will ever learn. Listening is Good for Mental health. Many mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and others, flourish on loneliness. Human companionship is essential for our well-being, and the lack of it can make things worse for someone with mental health concerns. An absence of emotional support can cause mental health issues and aggravate them. Anyone dealing with a mental health concern will tell you how difficult it is to open up to talk.

People often hesitate to talk, apart from not finding someone to listen to or coping with the fear of being judged because of the overall social stigma around mental health. This is because they feel that no one will listen or that no one cares.

When it comes to mental health, listening is helping. Listening is loving the person. Listening shows that they are important and have something worthwhile to say or share. Listening is saying’ you matter’. Learning to really listen to what people say can help you identify signs of early onset of mental health concerns. It can also make a world of difference to how someone feels. Listening to someone also helps your mental health because you know you are supporting them by listening. Listening is a Well-habit In my research, I have found an excellent chart from Habits of Listening | UniversalClass and have laid it out below. I couldn’t do a better job because this is a straightforward guide to compare excellent or lousy listening. It is helpful to weigh up against it and see where we are doing good and where we might improve. Bad Listening Habits in Comparison to Good Listening habits B. People find the conversation boring and affect their concentration or lead them to tune the speaker out. G. People who are really listening will not allow a subject matter to keep them from paying attention to the key points. They also will make sure they continue paying attention and avoid distractions. B. A listener does not pay attention, daydreams, or becomes distracted rather than listening to the person speaking. G. A good listener would not fake paying attention or engage in daydreaming. They know the importance of making eye contact and showing interest. B. Speakers who overreact to something they disagree with generally tune the speaker out or just focus on what they want to say in rebuttal. G. A good listener that disagrees with the speaker or something the speaker has said will remain calm and wait for an appropriate time to inquire about the point of disagreement. B. Poor listening habits would include finding fault with the speaker. Criticizing the speaker may mean that you find fault with how they look, dresses, or speaks. G. Good listening habits include not evaluating speakers on how they look or trying to find fault with them. B. Poor listeners will try to zone in on just the facts that the speaker may make, rather than listening to everything and hearing the support for the facts. G. Good listeners will look more at the bigger picture and listen to everything, rather than nit-picking particular points. B. Insensitive listening includes listening with a closed mind, bias, and/or prejudice regarding the person or topic. G. A good listener approaches speakers with an open mind and attitude, showing respect to the speaker. B. A poor listener may engage in doodling, checking text messages, making phone calls, snapping gum, or any number of other tasks, when listening should be the focus. G. Good listeners will minimize or remove distractions when they know they should be listening. Thus, they have demonstrated to the speaker that they are attentive and engaged in active listening. B. Poor listeners pay no regard to body language when it comes time to listen. They may keep their back to the speaker, avoid eye contact, close their arms as they listen, or even make faces in response to what they are hearing. G. Good listeners realize that a good portion of communication is done through nonverbal means and that body language often says much more than words do. Therefore, good listeners make sure their body language is open, relaxed, and inviting. B. A poor listener would interrupt the speaker to make their own point, attack what is said, etc. G. A good listener would wait for an appropriate time to bring up their own points or ask questions about what has been said. The listener also would do it in a non-threatening or attacking manner. B. Those who multitask as they listen to someone are not demonstrating good listening habits. They may be talking on the phone, looking at their computer, etc. G. To be a good listener, you have to demonstrate that you are engaged. You should look at the person speaking, even if it means stopping your work or whatever else you may be doing. B. Poor listeners will let their emotions get the best of them. They may interrupt, attack, or tune out because of them. G. Good listeners have a handle on their emotions and will keep them in check to listen. When it is time to ask questions, get clarification, or counter a fact, they do so respectfully and try to use “I” statements rather than “you” ones.

Thank you for visiting me here and being part of this new community! This insightful blog post is to help you to create your well-being for an independent, meaningful, and happy lifestyle. Browse the top menus and take a course for Stress Relief and Management. Coming up, I’ll have a few videos on how to develop your mindfulness well-being journey. If this post was helpful to you, I would love to hear from you. Feel free to contact me if you need support or share any thoughts; we are on this journey together through life. I look forward to your next visit here and remember. Your Best Life is Yet to Come!

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