She let me just talk and talk and, in a sense, get it all out – the worry, the frustration, the questions and the confusion.
She didn’t have any grand answers and my worries didn’t go away that evening, but I felt heard, and that meant the world to me.
Being a ‘listener’ is a brilliant quality to have.
Do you listen to your friends or do you interrupt them? Do you give them time to open up or do you spend most of the time talking about yourself?
My natural tendency is to interrupt – ‘When was that?’ ‘Why?’ ‘How did that make you feel?’ ‘That reminds me of the time…’
There’s nothing wrong with asking questions but it’s important to give people space.
I’ve conducted a number of interviews on and off camera before and I’ve learnt that you need to give the person time to think and remember and, then, share. Rushing through questions means you miss key details that only come when a person is given time and space to reflect.
I remember a friend of mine who was teaching me how to interview said ‘Don’t be afraid of silence’. Sometimes we rush through stories and ‘catch-ups’ but we don’t allow each other any silence, silence isn’t welcome over a cup of coffee is it? Silence means we don’t have anything to say, right? Wrong, silence means I’m not rushing you, silence means I’m comfortable with you, silence means there’s space for you here to speak and share.
We all want to be heard and some of us have things we really need to talk about, will you listen? Will you be that listening ear that your friend or family member needs? Next time you meet your friend, however much has gone on in your life, give them time to open up. It will take practise, but it’s really important to help others to feel comfortable around you, and make sure that they know they can talk to you about their worries and what’s on their minds.
Photo by Trung Thanh