Today, January 26th, marks Bell Let’s Talk Day and Bell will donate 5¢ for every applicable text, call, tweet or TikTok video using #BellLetsTalk, social media video view and use of their Facebook frame or Snapchat filter, towards mental health initiatives in Canada. The theme for this year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day is “Keep Talking, Keep Listening”. People are encouraged to support themselves and each other, and to keep listening.
How can we be a good listener?
In today’s world of electronic communication (texting, email, etc.), listening is fast becoming a lost art. Read on for some tips on how to become a better listener.
Be fully present. Give the speaker your full and undivided attention. Look directly towards the speaker, turn your body towards the person and make soft eye contact. Avoid being distracted by your own thoughts, or other conversations in the room. In fact, it might be helpful to move to a quieter area with fewer distractions, if the speaker is comfortable. Listen fully to what the speaker is saying, without trying to mentally prepare your next response.
No judgement. This may not be the time for that. Really try to be aware of your own body language and your facial expressions. Are you shaking your head no in response to something the speaker has said? Are you turning away from the person? Even if you are not interrupting the speaker to disagree, these are subtle ways that you may be shutting down the conversation by letting the speaker know that you don’t approve of what they may be saying.
Show that you are listening. Use your own body language and gestures to show that you are engaged. Smile and nod to encourage the speaker to continue with the conversation. Ask clarifying questions, or paraphrase what the speaker is saying to further your understanding. Leave room for silence. This really allows you as the listener to digest what you have heard, while also allowing the speaker time to continue with the conversation.
But also, always remember that you need to take care of yourself in order to care for others. You cannot pour from an empty cup. If you are not in the space to be a good listener at that time, it is okay to put that person in contact with someone who can help. This might involve reaching out to another friend or another trusted adult. You can also suggest that they contact a professional, such as their family doctor.
If someone you know, including yourself, are in crisis, immediate support is always available by calling the Four County Crisis line at 705-745-6484 or toll-free 1-866-995-9933, to access 24-hour, free, confidential crisis support.