“They just didn’t want to listen” the young woman said to her companion.
I overheard this conversation as I was doing my slow jog round my local park last week. It made me stop and think. Not literally, of course because I’m in serious training for a 10k race at the end of August and stopping is not on the agenda (until the end of course).
Anyway, I digress. What it made me think was – how often do you hear people talking about “not listening”. I had counted three occasions already that day.
Have I caught your attention yet? Are YOU listening now? Because I have an important point to make – as somebody who has suffered poor mental health in the past, not being listened to was THE PITS.
Now I know, it’s really difficult in the workplace – the person who is suffering from poor mental health may not be your friend, they are just somebody you work beside, right? Maybe you don’t know what to say to them? Maybe, you’re sitting reading this now and thinking, “I don’t know anybody at work who’s suffering from mental ill-health” But trust me on this, you will know somebody who’s got a mental health problem.
One person out of three in the UK is a sufferer.
But, here’s the rub, you don’t need to say much, all you need to do is listen. Simple isn’t it?
So, here are my 3 tips on how to listen. And I mean really listen:
1. Listen with your eyes as well as your ears
People, in my humble opinion, give away a lot. You just have to watch and listen. Are they quieter than usual? Do they look tired and lethargic? Just ask: “How are you today”?
2. Listen to understand, not just to respond
“I’m feeling really tired and I’ve got a pounding headache”.
This is what a “listening to respond” answer will sound like: “That’s funny, I’m not feeling well either, maybe I’m coming down with something……”
You get the drift, don’t you?
A “listening to understand” answer will sound like: “That’s not good, what can I do to help?
3. Physically show that you’re listening
Maintain good eye contact (don’t stare or look intense – it just looks scary) Tilt your head to one side (it shows you’re listening intently) Nod or smile occasionally
And that’s it. Not too difficult now is it? But it makes the world of difference….believe me.
So, because you’ve been listening so intently to my ramblings, I’m going to reward you with a little personal challenge: You know that work colleague who has seemed a bit out of sorts lately, start the conversation today.
“How are you?”
Then sit back and just listen….
Many thanks Lorna for your wise words. Lorna founded Elephant Intelligent Communications
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