Friday, August 6, 2010

Friendships Among Women - a Genuine Sounding Board

Our 3rd tip to improving your friendships is to be a "Genuine Sounding Board"

3.  Be a "Sounding Board" for a friend, in other words be a good listener

Taking a genuine interest in what others have to say and really listening to someone is important in developing solid relationships.  Letting go of the “me, me, me” and focusing on the other person not only makes the other person feel valued and appreciated, but they feel that they can really talk to someone who cares. Those who take the time to really listen to our thoughts and feelings, and then help us work through difficult times and situations, share our lives at a much deeper level than those who don’t.  This is what being a good friend is all about.

Here are some tips on being a better listener for your friends:
Be an active listener - be fully aware of the other person paying attention to their words and their body language without "zoning out." The active listener is listening attentively and trying to clarify and commit to short term memory the key points being expressed.

There are other skills which can be used to help you be a better listener:
  1. Clarifying – If you don't understand what has been said it is necessary to check by asking for clarification. 
  2. Minimal "encouragers" – These are the nods and "mmmm" noises that one makes when chatting with people to let them know one is listening
  3. Reflecting – From time to time reflect back the important facts or feelings.
  4. Challenging – This skill can be used when there is a mismatch between what the person is saying and their body language, e.g. somebody says they are really happy, but they actually look miserable. Challenging is also used when people are saying things that are contradictory. It is a skill that is used with respect – it is not the same as criticism.
  5. Good body language – Leaning slightly towards the other party can indicate that they are being listened to – just as looking away or glancing at one's watch would tell them that one isn't actually there for them. (this also means not playing with your phone while someone is talking)
  6. Be open and non judgmental - this encourages people to feel free to say whatever they need to without fearing an adverse reaction
I think it is getting more and more difficult for us to be good listeners in our society as we have so many distractions.  As with our last tip, being a happy positive friend, this one is also a learned skill that we need to practice and be aware of.  Think about how we like others to respond to us and you will have a pretty good idea of what you need to do. 

1 comment:

Beverly Walters Whaley said...

Relationships in any fascet requires all of these tips....being a good listener is something that all relationships need....GREAT POST Coach K! I enjoy every single post...and wait for the next tid-bit of knowledge of REAL everyday stuff I can apply to my own life! Thanks for putting yourself out there...Love ya! GREAT JOB!