Probably one of the most valuable qualities to try to develop is that of being a good listener. Much of the good that doctors and psychiatrists achieve is simply through listening to the patient. For someone to give some personal attention, to listen to their problems and to understand makes a person feel a whole lot better. A good listener will also be able to prompt the person to talk in such a way that it helps them to sort out their own problems. The good listener helps the person consider various alternatives, different aspects of a situation, try to establish what the reality of a situation may be and thus help them to sort themselves out. They can help a cloudy issue become clearer and give pointers, but should try to refrain from giving advice unless it is specifically asked for. The following was given to us by the Samaritans who themselves are often called The Listeners. The Samaritans undoubtedly help to save many from suicide simply through listening. LISTENING… YOU ARE NOT LISTENING TO ME WHEN…

  • You do not care about me
  • You say you understand before you know me well enough.
  • You have an answer for my problem before I’ve finished telling you what my problem is.
  • You cut me off before I’ve finished speaking.
  • You finish my sentences for me.
  • You feel critical of my vocabulary, grammar or accent.
  • You are dying to tell me something.
  • You tell me about your experience making mine seem unimportant.
  • You are communicating to someone else in the room.
  • You refuse my thanks by saying you really haven’t done anything.
  • You come quietly into my private world and let me be me.
  • You really try to understand me even if I’m not making much sense.
  • You grasp my point even when it’s against your own sincere convictions.
  • You realise that the hour I took from you has left you a bit tired and drained.
  • You allow me the dignity of making my own decisions even though you think they might be wrong.
  • You do not take my problem from me, but allow me to deal with it in my own way.
  • You hold back your desire to give me good advice.
  • You do not offer me religious solace when you sense I am not ready for it.
  • You give me enough room to discover for myself what is really going on.
  • Accept my gift of gratitude by telling me how good it makes you feel to know that you have been helpful.
[from the Samaritans] Please remember: when someone opens their heart to you and allow you to see their innermost thoughts and feelings they are giving you a gift of themselves – please HANDLE WITH GREAT CARE.