Updated: Feb 25
What a year!! This time last year no one could expect this. In and out of lockdown, job insecurity, relationship problems. Uncertainty. You name it. Most people have lost something over the last 12 months. If nothing tangible than at least the freedom of movement.
I wish I had a crystal ball to see what was coming. But hey, such is life and no one can predict the future.
What we can do, though, is to be there for each other and support those around us.
Saying that it's important to provide the right support. What would help you doesn't automatically mean i will help someone else, even if it seems that they are in the same situation. Why?
Because we all have different needs. What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning doesn't necessarily have to motivate the other person. Understanding the differences in Motivation can really help you to at least understand their needs. From Certainty or Variety to Recognition & Significance , Belonging & Love, Growing& Learning to the need to help others and contribute to the society. You can read the full Article on Motivation and our Needs
You might be surprised to find out why are we so different.
I can't stress enough how important it is to realise and understand that once you decided to offer help it is NOT ABOUT YOU! I know it might sound harsh but the second you even think you want to help someone you need to find out what it is THEY WANT or NEED! And not what worked for you. This is when many people get it wrong and help leads to disappointment and crushed expectations. Why? Because you expected someone to be like you! And no one is like you.
Be clear about your expectations of yourself and others too. Just because certain approach worked for you doesn't mean it's going to work for someone else. Going into a situation without any expectations will help you to tune in into what the other person really needs whilst protecting yourself from getting hurt if they reject your offer to support them. Read more about Expectations and how to manage them in my article Manage your Expectations .
But you can never really provide a good support without Excellent Listening Skills. Did you know that most problems can be resolved when a person feels heard and understood. And not just by saying "I understand your frustration madam/sir" (We've all heard this one!!
Listening is a skill and unless it's part of your profession like counselling, coaching, psychotherapy... the changes are you never really paid much attention to it. We don't learn it at school and if you have children you know it's not a skill we're born with!
Below is a little image that can help you to be a better listener...
First you need to STOP any distraction from external noise or even music to inner chatter in your own head. Prepare the environment to make sure it's comfortable and suitable.
Then you LISTEN and not only with your ears. Observe body language and any changes - someone is more relaxed and comfortable or the opposite - tensed or angry/upset. These are important clues for you to be able to provide the support they needs. Listen our for words with emphasis on - these are important to them. You can use these words when reflecting back to ensure you understood correctly.
So MIRROR their own words, not your substitute, because different words mean different things to different people (now, that was a mouthful). Don't assume everyone sees the world through your eyes and ears.
If you're not sure you understand ASK open questions. NEVER ASSUME. And again, use their words in clarifying questions - it will show them that you are listening. Using open questions like Where, What, When, How...will help them to think deeper and open up rather than using yes or no answers. Try and avoid using the question Why which might get people on the defensive as it sounds a bit judgmental. Once you ask zip up.
SILENCE might be uncomfortable but gives the other person a chance to think without added pressure. Unless, of course it's an interrogation then you can fire a question after question but unless it's your job, give people space. If they ask why are you not saying anything just say that you're giving them space and time to think. Even having that can make a difference as not many people are comfortable with silence.
Go and try it out and let me know in the comments how you got on. If you want a PDF version of the Listening Cycle, let me know and I'll email it to you.
Remember - Supporting others is NOT ABOUT YOU.
Learn the invaluable People Skills at Supporting Others in Difficult Situations online training course with over 3 hours of learning. Topics include the Listening Skills, Managing Expectations, What Motivates Us but also topics like Resilience, Empathy, Understanding Emotions Personality and their communication preference, Understanding Behaviour and decoding reactions, The Grief Cycle and much needed Building Healthy Boundaries!
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Until next time