It has been a challenging time since the pandemic rose. People have lost their loved ones–friends and families. In the darkest of times they have lost themselves as well, robbed off of their daily lives, social lives, etc. But there have also been some advantages. As people were forced to stay at home, they had more and more time to spend with their families.
Many of us lost connections with our school or college friends due to the busy lifestyle that we all led, but now we have the time to reconnect with them again. In hard times like this, everyone has things to share, their feelings they want to let go of or accept. And for those of us who are still in touch, let’s be there for each other and make each other feel that we are not alone.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of a ‘friend’? Someone with whom we can share anything without thinking twice, someone we trust, someone willing to listen to our problems? But it also needs to be both ways. Trust cannot be built only when one person is involved. So every individual in a group of friends or a pair of friends should make each other feel that way.
Sometimes even when we are with our friends, we feel unheard. It is only normal for people to get distracted, but it is not okay when you are in a conversation, and the other person is sharing something with you. Imagine a situation–you go to your closest friend, and you are excited to share something. But while you are sharing it, your friend doesn’t give you all of their attention. How would you feel? Angry, disappointed, irritated? Don’t worry; it happens with the best of us. But there are ways by which we can learn to avoid such behaviour and learn how we can actively listen to our friends.
Listening to someone intently with undivided attention can be difficult. But it is also very easy once you learn, practice, and implement it in your everyday life. Well, to be of a bit of help, here are some tips that you can follow while you are listening to your friends:
Give them your undivided attention: Often, when we are in a conversation with our friends we tend to use our cell phones, or fidget. Now, that is unacceptable. If you are sitting face to face with them, maintain eye contact, use non-verbal language like nodding. If you are having a voice call with them, make sure to be true to yourself and again, do not start scrolling through your social media while talking. Listen to them, don’t interrupt, and make sure to let them know they have your attention.
Remember, it is not about giving solutions: When your friend wishes to speak to you, let them. Remember that they just want someone to listen to them, and they chose you. So be there for them. Most of us start giving our own opinions, advice, and how we feel about that thing, but really, should we? Advice, suggestions, solutions, etc., should be provided if the other person asks for it. They don’t want you to fix their problems or give solutions; they just want you to listen to them.
Show that you care: By doing the above-mentioned points, you already show that you care about them. But also, empathize with them; hug them if you feel they need to be hugged. Make them feel secure and comfortable throughout the conversation. Remember, small things do matter.
Be kind towards their feelings and encourage them: Avoid judgments towards them or their feelings, be kind and soft. Let them feel whatever they are feeling, let them cry if they want to, and let them know you are there for them. After the conversation has come to an end, encourage them to be kind to themselves.
Having someone willing to listen to us is the best gift ever!
So next time you are listening to a friend, implement these tips. Be a better listener, be a better friend.