OK, great. Wonderful, you might might be thinking. This sounds great in theory, but in practice it’s oh so hard to do. Is it really necessary?
If you want good relationships, yes. Yes it is. Here’s why.
When you help someone feel heard, you’re validating their existence as a human. And you’re doing this by showing that you care about their experiences. Instead of immediately imposing your worldview, you are taking time to acknowledge theirs. You are joining them in a sacred space, a shared environment where mutual understanding can exist.
But isn’t helping someone feel heard just prolonging the conversation? Aren’t there faster ways to go about this?
Sure. There are. But again, if your focus is on the relationship, you don’t want to skip this step. Relationships are not built on quick problem resolutions. Those are transactions. If people wanted that, there are plenty of other people they could pay to solve their problems and then go away.
When people come to you as a friend, they aren’t looking for your vast knowledge right away.
They are coming to you with the trust that you will hear them out. That’s why it’s so important to withhold any judgment and simply exist there in that shared space for a little bit.
How long do you do this? It all depends. You can usually tell when a person feels heard and is now receptive to a potential solution. You can usually see it in their body language. There’s a softening. A gentle deflating effect. Only at this point do you want to start hurling your advice at them. That is, if it’s even necessary at all.
Often, no great words of wisdom are needed at all. Simple, shared presence is enough.
Just being right there, in that very moment with another person, you can create more positive change than you ever thought possible.
Does this ring true for you? Does it make you think of any good or bad experience? If you’re a member of The Mental Health Update, you can share it in the private members’ community with other wonderful people. If not, send me an email and share what you think.
It’s the end of the week! Do something for yourself today.