Clearly, listening is a skill that is far too rare today. Learning how to be a good listener, though, is vital if we want to truly support someone, and it can even be a game changer in terms of being a better employee, friend, etc. But, the one thing that I will definitely keep in mind when it comes to listening is this quote, because I think it encapsulates so much of what we are missing when it comes to supporting people dealing with grief, loss, depression, etc.
“It took a while for me to understand that if a friend is in a dark place, the most compassionate thing we can do is to climb down into that place and sit with them for a while. “If a person trusts you enough to talk about their distress, trying to cheer them up is like shutting them up – you are dismissing and trivialising their feelings,” Pam says. “Give them the space to say how bad they feel and stay with it. Swerving away from it, talking about a silver lining, can signal you don’t want to hear it.”
It’s true. Our unwillingness to sit with someone in their pain, instead of trying to make them feel better because that is more comfortable for us, is doing much more harm than good.