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L IS FOR LISTEN    

L IS FOR LISTEN

Artwork by Fisk

Listening may be the most important part of mental health conversations. While expressing our feelings and emotions is important, making others feel seen, heard, and understood is the ultimate goal when talking about mental health. The way to do this is through “active listening.”

What Is Active Listening?

Active listening is listening in a way where you make a conscious effort to hear not only the words someone is saying, but the complete message being communicated. Simply put, it is listening to understand, not to respond. 

Active listening is being truly engaged and present in a conversation. It’s not prepping what you are going to say next in response to the point someone is making. It’s taking the time to make sure you are fully understanding their point of view. 

By practicing active listening, not only do we help those we talk with feel more fully understood, but we become more self aware throughout the process!

What Does Active Listening Look Like?

NON JUDGEMENTAL

PATIENT

VERBAL AND NONVERBAL FEEDBACK (I.E. SMILING, NODDING, EYE CONTACT)

ASKING QUESTIONS

REFLECTING BACK WHAT IS BEING SAID

CLARIFYING

SUMMARIZING

It takes practice and determination to become an active listener. Old habits are hard to break. Be patient with yourself along this process. If you find yourself responding emotionally to what someone said, tell them. Say something along the lines of, “I may not be understanding you correctly, and I find myself taking what you said personally. What I thought you said is ____. Is that what you meant?” 

Active listening is a powerful way for us to fully understand one another, ourselves, and maybe even learn something new.