How many times has a friend said that to you? If you’ve ever been through a tough time, I’m sure you’ve heard it a lot. Or if you’ve had friends going through a tough time, I’m sure you’ve said it to them.
But what does it really mean to tell someone that you’re a good listener?
Does that mean that we sit there and while they talk, we don’t talk? Or are we supposed to actually hear what they say and understand what they’re saying so that we can respond to them, thus making it a two way conversation?
Based on what I’ve gone through in my life, I can tell you that being a good listener means a few things:
1. Be present and be aware – if you told your friend that you’d be there for them…then be there for them. Being there for your friend is worth giving up a few hours sleep once in a while. Or not going out drinking with your friends. Or watching your favourite tv show another night. Think about what is really important in life. Relationships. Caring about people. Love. Connections. That’s what matters.
2. While they talk, listen and hear what they’re saying. When they’re not talking, give your honest feedback/insight/opinion. If you don’t think they can handle what they should hear, don’t tell them. But don’t make something up because you think that’s what they want to hear. Life is too short to tiptoe around and tell people something you don’t really mean. A friend of mine asked earlier on Facebook what people thought integrity meant. I told her “doing what you say and saying what you do”. I think that applies to every facet of your life. You can start now. It’s as simple as being yourself.
If you don’t think you’re able or ready to do these two things for a friend, then don’t tell them “if you ever need to talk…I’m a good listener”.
They’ll appreciate you more for being honest than for you being a terrible listener.