Listening involves more than merely hearing.
We are wise to learn listen. With many diversions at our fingertips, it can be difficult to focus our attention toward a single conversation. As we put forth effort to become a better listener, we benefit others as well as ourselves. You may find, as I have, some of these simple tips are easier said than done!
How you appear to the one speaking may let them know you really care.
1. Look the person in the eye as you listen. This may seem oversimplified or unnecessary, especially if you are busy meeting immediate needs and you genuinely feel you don’t have time for conversation. Pausing for even a very few seconds to look at them directly as you smile or pat a hand or shoulder is a visual sign you really do care and have their best interests in hand.
Your answers can help others communicate better.
2. Do give feedback that encourages further communication. No one wants to hear, “I know how you feel”. A better comment would be, “that must be difficult for you”. Saying “I’m so sorry you feel this way” will often help to win trust and build confidence.
There is a time to give advice, and a time to wait.
3. Learn to listen without giving advice. This can be extremely difficult, especially if you feel you understand the circumstances. Make a note if you think this is a topic that may need addressed at a later time or with others responsible for their well-being.
Learn why certain topics are repeated more than others.
4. Try not to get impatient with repeated conversations. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes; consider why these stories might be so important. Listen for clues that may help the person, family, or you as caregiver.
Most people simply want someone to love them; to genuinely care about their needs.
5. Do not judge the person by what they say. You may not relate to what is said or agree, but you can show the courtesy to listen politely.
Knowing you really care will build trust, help reduce tension, and release emotions. Taking time to listen, even for a few short minutes, will encourage further conversations and can produce life-changing results for all.
We can learn from Jesus who said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heaven laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and ye shall find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
The 2nd Edition of MY MOTHER MY CHILD with new Discussion Guides is filled with practical helps and encouragement. Friends and family, young and old will find this book a valuable tool in caring for their families and end-of-life matters.