Children and young people often complain that adults don’t listen. I guess we can relate to this in adult life.
How many times do we hear from people disappointed in their relationships? ‘He/she just doesn’t listen to me.’
How frustrating is it when you try to get your professional point across and no one seems to hear?
Managers often tell me their biggest complaint is staff just don’t seem to listen!
When I was a young person in care, I needed someone to listen. Not speak. Listen.
I had a brilliant key worker. He listened and listened and listened. I know he did because some thirty-odd years later he could repeat back to me conversations we had back in the day! I felt listened to at the time and I know my key worker heard me.
There were times we didn’t talk. Times we just sat. Times I asked the same question and got the same answer and times when words were unnecessary.
How often do we try to fill the quiet moments with a chat? We want to help and support the people we work with. We take advantage of those times we have them on our own. Maybe we probe. We tell them we want to hear them!
Sometimes, after the fact, we want to understand things with our young people. When sometimes there is more value in our listening response!
The following eight points are meaningful to me. They define what I needed. Someone to listen.
1. True Listening is that which only the heart hears. When you hear what I don’t say. When my just being is worth more than my words. That is true listening.
2. When I am in trouble and I ask you to listen and you give me advice, that is not listening in a true sense.
3. When I am struggling and I ask you to listen to me and you tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way, that is not listening.
4. When I am defiant and I need you to hear me and you feel you have to solve the problem, that is not listening.
5. Please don’t talk or do, or write it down for me to sign later. Just hear me. That is listening.
6. I can act for myself. I am not helpless. Maybe discouraged and frustrated, but not helpless. Don’t act for me that is not true listening.
7. When you say something for me, that I can say for myself, you contribute to my feelings of being unheard that is not listening.
8. But, when you accept as a simple fact that I feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, that is listening in the true sense.
Sometimes it ‘really’ is more important to listen than it is to talk.
How much more might we learn about others by learning to listen?
PS. This style of listening works wonders in staff supervision too!
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