Most of us do not like to feel our emotions, especially our ‘negative’ ones such as anger, fear and helpless-ness. This issue not only impacts us, it also impacts our friends and loved ones.
Imagine that your friend calls you and he is upset about a difficult situation. What is your first reaction? For most of us, we start telling him what to do and perhaps what he should not have done!
Most people in distress want to be heard first! They need to first feel they are not alone and get some form of validation and empathy about what and how they are feeling. It is about sorting out what is going on in their emotional world.
For us to be a good listener, it requires that we be OK hearing about negative feelings. It is like when we watch something distressing on TV that intensifies our negative emotion (fear, anger, helpless, etc.) we may leave the room or turn off the TV! In case of a friend in distress, we cannot hang up the phone so we start advising so we feel better!
If you are in distress and calling a friend to be heard make sure to tell your friend, that you want to be heard and if that is a good time to do so. If you are receiving a call. Do not start advising! Listen and ask questions first. Only advise if you are asked to do so and after you have listened fully to what is going on.
Copyright @ 2015 by Shervin Hojat