It’s easy to fall into advice or fix-it mode with our kids, colleagues, and friends instead of deeply listening. We hate to see others struggle and want to jump in and fix things. But, often, the best way to help others grow is simply to listen. To validate their experience and allow them to process their thoughts and emotions out loud. And there’s no better way to build connection and trust.
Research on Listening
A Harvard study found “that speakers paired with good listeners (versus those paired with distracted listeners) felt less anxious, more self-aware, and reported higher clarity.” By merely feeling heard, participants in the study experienced more clarity and reduced stress levels.
As the mom of a tween and teen, I’m trying hard to bite my tongue more often these days. With the shift to hybrid and on-line school, social distancing, canceled activities, and more time at home, there’s a lot for kids to process now. Studies show that one of the best ways to navigate difficult thoughts and emotions is by sharing with a good listener.
So what does deep listening mean?
The key elements of deep listening include:
1. Avoiding distractions – such as glancing at your phone
2. Reflecting back to the speaker what you hear to confirm your understanding
3. Avoiding giving advice and judging the person speaking.
The Gift of Listening
Deep listening is an essential but increasingly rare skill these days. Yet, it is key to fostering meaningful, supportive relationships. Although I find it so tempting to insert my opinions and dish out advice, I’m trying to refrain and just listen. Deep listening helps others find clarity as they process all the stuff swirling around in their hearts and heads. And there is no more generous gift than to be truly heard and accepted.
About Jessica Speer:
Jessica Speer is an author and speaker that focuses on helping kids and families thrive. Her book, BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends), releases July 2021. Visit www.JessicaSpeer.com to learn more, follow her blog, or connect on social media.