Show your friends you care by listening

by Jul 11, 2012Friendship

Show your friends you care by listening.

Everyone wants to be a better friend.  You want the people in your life to feel cared for.  You want them to know that they are important to you.  Here’s a framework for how to listen in to a friend to show you care.

  • Shut up.  People love to talk about themselves.  People need to talk about themselves.  Ask, then be quiet and let them answer.
  • Flesh it out.  First, you get the narrative.  “He broke up with me last Friday.”  Wonder how it was to hear that.  Then you’ll get feelings.  “I was knocked over.  I didn’t see it coming.”  Or maybe, “We’d been on the rocks for a while, so I expected it.”
  • Echo the feelings.  “I hate it when they break up that way.”  Or, “just ‘cause you expected it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.”
  • Air the feelings.  Ask how it is with them now and echo that.  If it’s still shocking and hurting, remind your friend that it takes time to metabolize a break up.  If s/he’s moved on a bit, then notice that too.
  • Touch.  Squeeze your friend’s arm or give a hug.  Whatever feels right to you.
  • Affirm.  Sometimes folks need to know that others hope for good things for them.  Don’t let all the friendship happen between your ears.  Go ahead and say:  “You are very special, and I want you to be with someone who knows that.”
Elizabeth Singer is a therapist and anger management specialist in New York City

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