You’ve opened up a conversation, now let them speak!

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Being a good listener means striking a balance between listening, asking questions, and sharing your experiences.

Learn to listen

Listening is the most important skill when being there for someone. Don’t preach, pry, or pretend to have all the answers, just try to understand where they’re coming from and be as supportive as you can.

Balance the Conversation

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Most conversations are a mix of listening, asking questions and sharing your thoughts or experiences. Being there for someone means prioritizing those elements of the conversation in that order.

Listen.
That’s the most important thing and if that’s all you do, you’ve done just fine.
Be Curious.
Keep your questions open-ended and ask follow-up questions based on what they say.
Share Wisely.
Most of the time it’s not necessary (or helpful) to share your own experience or give advice.

Shawn & Shaiya

Rediscovering Shawn

Shawn & Shaiya

Listening is pretty simple, but we all get it wrong sometimes.

 

We try to fill the “awkward silence” or fix problems by offering advice. That’s not really listening. Here’s some tips on being a better listener.
 

Pay attention. Make eye contact. Put your phone away.

Nod to show you’re listening but don’t interrupt or cut them off.

Allow space for silence and time for them to collect their thoughts.

Paraphrase and summarize their thoughts back to them.

Ask for clarity when you need it.

Validate how they’re feeling. E.g. “That sounds really hard.” “I can see how frustrating that would be.”​

Use your body to show you’re listening. Turn to face them, lean in, uncross your arms and relax.

Jessie & Manvir

You were continuously checking in

Jessie & Manvir

Remember this conversation is about them, not you.

Mel & Matt

I truly thought I was alone.

Mel & Matt

Questions from the community

How do I show concern without being intrusive? How do I keep their situation from escalating during the conversation?

How to set boundaries

As you listen, remember: it’s not all on you. Learn to Know Your Role.

Be There