I have been a listener since I was young. I listen to every people I have ever met; parents, siblings, friends, lover, and even strangers. Sometimes, I also proclaimed myself as a therapist since people willingly tell me their deepest darkest secret and actually ask me for advice to cope with their problems. Every time they came back to me to say thank you, I would ask them for feedbacks on how I handle them during their difficult time -- mostly to improve my service as a listener. You may say that being a listener has become my profession, even though I never get paid for that.

I realized that not a lot of people can become a listener or someone to lean to. The demand for listener increased drastically to the point where the supplier cannot balance the demand in the market. A lot of people want to be heard, while there are no one left wants to be the listener -- at least, not as much as the ones who want to be heard. Hereby, I will give you some tips on how to become a good listener, at least for your loved ones.

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Do's:

Create A Safe Environment

Some people would ask their loved ones to choose their comfortable space before telling their stories and some people would choose the space for them. Either way, you have to create a safe environment for them to talk. Most people would choose to talk indoors instead of outdoors to avoid crowd that will interrupt the flow of their conversation. But, when you choose outdoors, make sure the place is close to nature like parks or seashores. Some people will talk more in comfort when they are facing the beauty of nature because their mind can wander freely so it will lift the emotional burden out of their chest.

It is best for you to exclude other people from your listening session to create an intimate atmosphere between you and your loved ones. Most people do not feel comfortable telling their stories when there is a third person in the group. So, make sure that no one can interrupt your intimate listening session because one small distraction can ruin the built up mood. You can start by finding a place that is far from your neighbourhood to avoid meeting acquaintance or a friend that will say hello to you or your loved one.

 

Know When To Talk

When the safe environment is ready, it is up to them whether they want to talk immediately or later. Most people have their own timing to get comfortable with the atmosphere, some would wait for you to ask them. However, it is important for you to know when to talk in this listening session. I would recommend you to shut your mouth the entire time and only respond to them by nodding or say "Hmm" and "Uh-huh". As I said before, one small distraction can ruin the built up mood, and say an unnecessary thing during the listening session is one of them.

 

Pay Attention

Everyone loves attention, especially someone who wants to be heard. When you are listening to someone, make them feel like they are the center of your attention. You do not have to look at them the entire time, at least focus on what they are saying, pay attention to details; something that they do -- even the smallest thing -- have a meaning, like anxiety, shyness, or anger. The more things you notice, the better handling you could give to your loved one.

 

Loving Gesture And Pity Party Are Different

When someone tells you their stories, especially the emotional ones, they expect some loving gestures from their listener. Giving a loving gesture can be tricky sometimes, it depends on what kind of emotional story they are telling you. Some gestures can be taken as pitying or encouraging your loved ones to have a pity party instead of comfort or emotional support. Therefore, paying attention on their story play a huge role in this part of listening.

Being objective is the key to giving the right treatment for them. But, it doesn't mean that you have to be cold or being too logical upon their problems. It is important for you to put yourself in their shoes in order to understand their problem from their perspective. By doing that, you can also find out the motives behind their actions, seeing the bigger picture of their problems, and find the correct solution to help them out. Or, if you do not find any perfect solution, you will know how they want and need to be treated. This way, you can avoid the pity party or simply feel sorry for what happened to them.

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Don'ts:

Doing Other Activities Really Bothers Them

Doing other activities that divides your attention can be considered as rude during a listening session, such as checking your phone, pointing out something that you find distracting, or saying things that are out of topic. Those simple gestures can be translated as 'not interested' by your loved ones, and it is normal if they think that you do not care about them. This could be very fatal to introverted people or people who have trust issues because it shows that you are someone who cannot be trusted, and this could give them the idea that you do not love them that much.

 

Joining Their Emotional Tantrums Shocks Them

Some people with a dark past can be very picky when finding a listener. Most of them have the thought of keeping their heavy burden to themselves because they do not want to bother other people. It is normal for you to feel sad when you see your loved one cries, or to feel angry when they feel violated. But, joining their emotional tantrums can give them the shock which makes them think that you are not that strong to be their listener.

The hardest thing to do when you become someone else's listener is to become stronger than your loved one. You may not as strong as you appear to be, but in order to become a home to your loved ones, you need to stay strong. It is like when you are trying to find a place to stay; you would not stay in a fragile indoor to make yourself feel safe, right? Same goes with your loved ones. The difference is, instead of being afraid of getting hurt, your loved one is more concern of your well-being after listening to their stories.

 

When They Run To You, Accept Them With Open Arms

If you happen to succeed on becoming their home, they will return to you for comfort. When they feel loved by you, cared by you, and understood by you, they will run to you willingly without you asking. Being someone else's home could give you the greatest feeling because you are needed by your loved ones. Some people do not find it enjoyable to randomly run into someone's arms just to comfort their tired heart. They need to build up their courage because by running to you, means they are placing their trust in you. So, when they run to you, accept them with open arms, make time for them, show them that you care.

 

Shuts Them Up Is A Deal Breaker

Most people cannot listen to other people's problem from time to time; sometimes, we have our own problem that we cannot handle, too. By being someone else's listener means that you are dealing with two people problems at once. Getting tired of that is acceptable, but, when you become the home of your loved ones, you need to tell the news gently.

There are several things that you cannot say to your loved ones when they run to you while you are tired. One of the example is, "Can't you deal with your problems on your own?" or "You know, I have problems, too". These are the two example of the deal breaker for your loved ones because, admit it, you already made a commitment to be their listener. Saying those things can be considered as irresponsible because it shows that you are not committed to your decisions which you already made. Therefore, please be careful with your words and your way of telling them that you need some time to rest, because a single word or gesture can hurt them.

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Those are the tips and tricks in order to be a good listener for someone. It is not as easy as saying it because it will take a lot of your time, energy, and your commitment. You have to be wise before you decide to be someone's home or a place to run to. Being a listener can make you a hero, it is an important role in life which you cannot abandon when you are tired or bored. To become a listener, you have to be selfless in order to fulfil your selfish reason.

Published by Kyle Nasution