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Demonstrate love by listening

Published in Mental Health, For the Health of It Author: Ellen J. Pelletier, MA, LP, LICSW

“When I am listened to, I feel loved.” At first, this may seem to be a simplistic statement, but when you think about the last time you felt that someone gave you their undivided attention, took the time to really listen to you, asked questions and empathized with you. It can be surprising how loved or cared for this makes you feel.

We live in a busy, fast-paced world filled with constant distractions — text messages, emails, phone calls and social media sites just to name a few. Work, school and family pressures can all take a toll and distract us from pausing and listening to our family, friends and coworkers.

Decide to make a conscious effort to take the time to actively listen to people in your life, especially those you love and cherish the most. Active listening is defined as listening with all senses. Mentally focus on what the other person is saying and show interest through your eyes, facial expressions, body language and verbal cues/responses.

Also, keep in mind the following listening principles:

  • Stop what you are doing and put aside your phone and other distractions.
  • Face your body toward the speaker and maintain eye contact during the conversation.
  • Don’t forget the obvious, stop talking.
  • Put other things out of your mind and focus on what the speaker is saying.
  • Pause before jumping in to the conversation and allow the speaker to complete their thought or further explain and clarify their idea(s).
  • Ask relevant questions and provide other nonverbal cues that demonstrate your interest.
  • Occasionally summarize what you have heard the speaker say to make sure you have understood what they are trying to convey.
  • Empathize with the speaker. Keep an open mind, try to set aside preconceived ideas and judgements and consider the speaker’s perspective.

Our relationships are meant to out-last most everything else in our lives. Our children go off and form their own hopefully lifelong relationships and our partners and relationships are to be there for us. And that doesn’t happen without hard work over time and being able to really listen. To be fully present for the people we love is paramount!

"If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two tongues and one ear.”

~ Mark Twain