24 July (24/7) is Samaritans Awareness Day, because they’re here to listen 24/7. On this date and throughout July, this is to remind people that we’re also here for anyone who needs someone to listen.
One talks, the other listens
Listening is important because when someone feels like talking, providing a friendly ear can be helpful. One way of doing this is through active listening, which allows you to not only hear the person’s story, but also to allow them to hear what you’ve understood. There is also evidence that active listening out-performs simple acknowledgements in a task comparing different types of listening (Weger at al., 2014).
Here is a summary of some active listening techniques:
- Focus your attention – avoid being distracted by the environment and listen to both verbal cues but also non-verbal cues (body language)
- Show that you are listening – this can be through acknowledgements (“Yes” or nods)
- Defer judgement – allow the person speaking to feel heard and acknowledge
- Respond appropriately – this can be through paraphrasing or by asking questions
Why is talking important?
Talking can provide an opportunity to gain more insight and help put things in order, or see it from an alternative perspective.
A study showed that when humans are confronted with an emotional stimulus (e.g. a stressful event) it creates an urge to talk about it (Luminet et al., 2000). This process of social sharing of feelings develops following stressful episodes. When we don’t talk about how we are feeling internally, we might delay the relief we get from talking about it. It’s okay to vent and release these pressures that can come up.
By sharing the problem, we are also able to bring it to a shared space. This can help with looking at the issue from a different point of view. You may also be able to talk to someone that has had a similar issue and see how they were able to deal with it.
Talk to us - we're listening
Our Keeping Well service is available for health and social care, including London Ambulance Service staff in North West London who need someone to talk to.
If you’re struggling with talking to someone about you’re feelings and not sure what to do, it’s a good idea to seek some professional support. Talking therapies can help you to explore and understand your feelings and help you to learn positive coping strategies.
If the above tips don’t quite fit for you, please get in touch with us at Keeping Well NWL. We can offer you a safe space to chat about your wellbeing needs with a trained wellbeing professional.