Step 1: Listen More, Talk Less
Friends, you’ve been there before. You’re going through a breakup and just want to talk, to vent about how crummy you feel. Maybe you’ve had a rough day at work. Maybe your boss was particularly critical of your work; Or maybe it was your a coworker stirring up problems. Either way, it’s not been your best day and you just want to tell someone about it. Then you reach out to a friend in hopes of feeling better, but instead, you get oodles of advice and her 2 cents on what you should do next. Frustrating, right?
Friendships Are Relationships Too
We have relationships with friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, and of course our spouses or love interests. Frequently, the focus of advice is on romantic relationships, but friendships are relationships, too. No matter what type of relationship it is, there’s always going to be ups and downs. That’s actually completely normal for any type of relationship. We’re not robots. We’re human beings with different personalities, ways of thinking, belief systems, and upbringings that are working to relate to one another in harmony. Relationships are hard.
In addition, friendships change as we grow older and as we go through different stages of life. Not to mention that finding good friends and keeping friendships going takes a lot of work.
A Friend That Cares
The advice or opinions our friends sometimes shower us with are usually well-intentioned. Your friends care about you and want to see you happy. It’s just that having all those opinions and advice can be confusing and even overwhelming for you, the person dealing with the situation. It can leave you feeling worse than you did before starting the conversation.
In my new blog series, How Not To Be A Terrible Friend in 3 Easy Steps, we will talk about 3 things you can do to make sure you are being an awesome friend, especially if your friend is going through a tough time. In this post, we’re focusing on listening more when your friend needs to talk.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Being A Good Listener
- Do hear them out. It’s hard not to jump in and give our opinion, but let your friend say what they need to say. Don’t interrupt them. Don’t assume they want your advise just because they asked to talk. As they are telling you about their situation out loud, their brain is processing all the information and they may come to their own realizations. Sometimes, us jumping in prevents them from getting to a better place about the situation. Don’t take offense. Your friend trusts you enough to ask you to be there to help.
- Do ask if they want advice. Don’t assume they want all your opinions on their situation. This may sound silly, but it can honestly be that simple. Think about a time when you just wished someone had listened more and talked less. If the other person had just asked you first whether you wanted advice or just for them to listen, it likely would have eliminated any further frustration. Again, don’t get defensive if they don’t want your 2 cents.
- Do give them your focus. Put your phone down and ignore texts and calls unless you are expecting something important. Be present. That alone tells your friend that you care about them.
The Take Away on Friendships
So, in wrapping up my first post in the new series, being a good friend often means listening more than you speak. Don’t take offense either way. Your friend trusts you to be there for them when they are vulnerable. That’s a pretty big deal if you ask me. If you’re not sure whether to give advice or listen, just ask. A simple question can clear up any confusion, and make sure you are giving them your attention when they have something to share. Bottom line, friendships take work just like any relationship. If we value the friendship and don’t want to see it end, then we gotta work to keep in touch, invite the person to get together, and be supportive.
If you find yourself struggling to make friends or to maintain friendships, I’d love to chat more about how we can change that for the better. Email me at [email protected]llpotentialcounseling.com or call 904-204-9308.