Six more distractions that hamper listening

When someone trusts you enough to share their thoughts and feelings, they're asking for just one thing – they'd like you to listen. They're not looking to you for answers and they don't want you to judge. They just want to voice their experience.

It's not easy to be a listener; it takes lots of energy and hard work to actively listen. You'll listen more effectively if you avoid these six additional distractions:

  1. Don't finish their sentences. Remind yourself how important it is to have patience when someone is struggling to formulate their thoughts.
  2. Don't tell your own stories.
  3. Don't share stories about other people's experiences.
  4. Don't cut them off; allow them to finish their thoughts.
  5. Don't change the subject.
  6. Turn your cell phone off. If for some reason you left it on or it's on vibrate, ignore it if it rings and let it go to voicemail.


Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle StoreClick here to order.


Image via Flickr Creative Commons / Mike Licht,

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Comment by Just Vonna on January 23, 2009 at 5:34pm
I found that sometimes just an email with a note that says ~
"Thinking of you today" was more comforting to me than anything else.

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