Everyone loves a good listener. If you’re interested in becoming a better listener to your child, spouse or friend, here are a few ideas.
First, give them your full attention and look them in the eyes so they know that you care about what they are saying—those phone calls and text messages will just have to wait.
Second, watch their body language and understand how they are feeling—are they glad, sad, angry, afraid, or ashamed?
Third, think about what they are saying instead of how you are going to respond.
Fourth, summarize what they are saying. You might say something like, “So, what I hear you saying is such and such.”
Fifth, ask open-ended questions, not questions that solicit just a “yes” or “no” answer. And don’t use the word why— “Why can’t you…?” “Why didn’t you…?” “Why aren’t you…?” The word “why” can seem accusatory. Instead, begin with words what, when, where, or how. Especially ask about their feeling, “How did that make you feel?”