Hi Friends! I know I have said this in my past few posts… but where in the WORLD is the year going! It’s the END of OCTOBER! Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, thanks for stopping by to spend some time with me. Today on the blog I have a shorty but goody.

Have you ever needed to get something off your chest? So, you called a family member or friend to vent only to be met with words of encouragement, problem solving, or a relatable story about “how they know how you feel?” Where all of these responses to your vent session are coming from a good place you still don’t leave the conversation feeling any better.

Instead, you may leave the conversation in a worse state, because in addition to your previous frustrations you now feel dismissed or ignored.

So, why is it so difficult to find someone who is willing to just listen? Well, I’m glad you asked… because just listening is hard. Pain and suffering are hard to manage. So, it is difficult to just sit by and listen to someone express their struggles. Instead, our natural response may be one of comfort or problem solving.

So, while I have your undivided attention and you are just listening (you see what I did there lol) can I be honest with you? The past two months have SUCKED! And there were times I needed to vent! I didn’t want advice, recommendations, to be cheered on, or provided with solutions.

Instead, I wanted someone to just listen. To just listen to me complain and say… THIS SUCKS!

And while I’m being honest, the majority of the people in my life who I called upon did this very well… but there were some others who did not.

While I do not hold their words of encouragement or solutions against them because they were only trying to help. It caused me to reflect on whether or not I have dismissed someone who wanted me to just listen by offering recommendations instead. Since I’m only human and active listening is a skill that has to be taught and practiced I’m sure I’ve dropped the ball a time or two.

So, how can we show up better when someone calls upon us to just listen.

  • Limit distractions: How do you feel when you have to repeat yourself over and over again? I find it quite annoying; therefore, if someone calls to vent it can be helpful to limit your distractions by turning off the TV, putting down the phone, going to a quite space, or letting them know this is not a good time for you to talk.
  • Hold space: The willingness to be emotionally available for another person is one of the first steps in holding space. Like I mentioned previously, they are not interested in solutions, encouragement, or a relatable story about yourself; therefore, holding space for them to express their feelings and thoughts can be powerful. You can cultivate this space by making statements such as “tell me more”, “I am listening”, or “I am here for you”.
  • Ask questions: If you are unsure of whether someone is calling to vent or if they want your help solving a problem a good place to start is by asking, “what can I do for you right now?” or “do you just need me to listen”?
  • Power of silence: Warning! My last tip is the most awkward but one of the most powerful. Every pause or break in a conversation does not need to be filled with words as silence can serve as a time to process and reflect. Even though it may seem awkward at first, I would encourage you to give silence a try next time you are on the other end of a venting session.

As we are met with future conversations keep these tips in mind and ask yourself, “what does this person REALLY need from me in this moment”? Advice, solutions, encouragement or for me to just listen?

What tip are you going to use the next time someone calls you to vent? Leave it in the comments below.

See you next time,

Patience

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