This year more than ever has taught us all to take care and be kind to ourselves and others. That’s why this year, on Giving Tuesday 1st December we have chosen to donate £1 from every product sold at philipkingsley.co.uk to support Samaritans, a registered charity*.
Every seven seconds, Samaritans answer a call for help.
Day or night Samaritans are available for anyone struggling to cope or who needs someone to listen without judgement or pressure. They are not only there in the moment of crisis, but are also taking action to prevent the crisis, giving people ways to cope and the skills to be there for others.
Here are some ways you can listen and support people and communities in times of need.
Show you care
Focus on the other person, make eye contact, put away your phone. Life can be extremely busy and in this age of constant digital connectivity, multi-tasking has become the norm. To really listen to somebody, you need to give them your full attention, maintain eye contact and be engaged.
Getting into this habit takes practice so don’t be too hard on yourself and keep using these handy tips. When starting the conversation resolve not to talk about yourself at all.
Keep a listening diary – just for a week. Record how many times you listened really well, note what challenges and distracts you, and what you think went well.
Aim to learn at least one new thing about the person who is talking to you.
It may take time and several attempts before a person is ready to open up. Time is key when listening to someone. The person sharing shouldn’t feel rushed, or they won’t feel it’s a safe environment. If the other person has paused in their response, wait. They may not have finished speaking. Remember that it might take them some time to formulate what they are saying, or they may find it difficult to articulate how they are feeling.
Effective listening is about trusting the other person. They trust you to listen and not to judge. You trust them to try to describe feelings, whether directly or indirectly, through language, body language or subtext.
All conversations are open to interpretation and through non-judgemental listening, you are allowing the person to relax into the conversation and to use it as a place to reflect or work through difficult emotions.
Use open questions
That need more than a yes/no answer and follow up e.g. ‘Tell me more’. An open-ended question means not jumping in with your own ideas about how the other person may be feeling.
These questions are objective and require a person to pause, think, reflect and then hopefully expand. Avoid asking questions or saying something that closes the conversation.
Open-ended questions encourage them to talk, the conversation is a safe space that you are holding for them and nothing they say is right or wrong. Try asking, how are you feeling today?
Say it back
To check you’ve understood, but don’t interrupt or offer a solution. Repeating something back to somebody is a really good way to reassure them that they have your undivided attention. You can check to see that you’re hearing what they want you to hear, not putting your own interpretation on the conversation.
Don’t be put off by a negative response and, most importantly, don’t feel you have to fill a silence.
It can feel intrusive and counter intuitive to ask someone how they feel. You’ll soon see if someone is uncomfortable and doesn’t want to engage with you at that level.
You will be surprised at how willing people are to listen and how, sometimes, it is exactly what somebody needs to be able to.
Whatever you’re facing, Samaritans are here to listen. Call free day or night 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information or to donate visit https://www.samaritans.org/