Hi, how’s it going? I hope you’re having a great day.
Did you know that you spend 50% of your time listening?
You need to know how to really listen to your loved one with bipolar disorder in order to be an effective supporter, so I’m going to give you some suggestions.
Following are some suggestions to help you be a better listener:
1. Be ready to listen.
If your loved one comes to you and they have something on their mind, stop what you’re
doing and be ready to listen.
2. Concentrate on what they are saying.
Look at your loved one as they talk to you, and try to avoid distractions. Focus on them and
what they are saying.
3. Be an active listener
Insert comments like, “Uh huh,” “Yeah,” or “Go on,” to show that you are actively listening to your loved one.
4. Ignore negative feelings
Your loved one may say something that you may not approve of, or which may hurt your feelings. Try to keep your own negative feelings out of the conversation, and simply listen.
5. Say your loved one’s name
Saying your loved one’s name during the conversation shows them that you really are listening to them.
6. Listen without adding your own ideas or giving advice.
Most of the time, your loved one just needs you to listen – they are not necessarily asking for advice or your opinion about them and/or their problems.
7. Don’t be judgmental
You may not agree with something your loved one tells you, but keep your opinion to yourself, or your loved one may sense you being judgmental of them and/or their comments and feelings and may stop talking to you.
8. Keep your loved one’s point of view in mind
Remember that you’re just listening and, like the last point, not being judgmental. Keeping your loved one’s point of view in mind at all times will help you to do this.
9. Use non-verbal communication to show understanding
Your loved one will be looking at you while they are talking, so they will notice your body language. Make sure that you are fully facing them, watching them, nodding your head, and not fidgeting.
10. Encourage your loved one to keep talking
Sometimes the best way to do this is by asking open-ended (not yes or no) questions. Just be sure not to ask too many, as they may feel as if you’re “quizzing” them.
11. Listen to what they are NOT saying
Your loved one may say something but actually mean something else. Try to pick up on what they are NOT saying as well as what they ARE saying.
12. Watch your loved one’s body language
This can go along with the last point. Your loved one may be speaking but they won’t look at you, or they are distracted by things around them, or other things which show that they may
be uncomfortable with what they are saying. Just be understanding and encouraging to get them to keep talking.
13. Don’t give advice
As stated before, your loved one may be talking to you just to have someone to listen to them. They may not actually want your advice or for you to “fix” their problems. Just listen and don’t give advice unless they ask you to.
14. Let your loved one know that their feelings are acceptable
Your loved one might be confused about their feelings, or even feel as if they are “stupid” or “wrong” for having those feelings. Make sure that you remain nonjudgmental and encourage them that whatever they are feeling, they have a right to feel that way.
15. Understand that you won’t always know what to say to your loved one
You may not always know the right thing to say to your loved one when they talk to you, so understand that, and accept it. Just remain an encouraging listener.
Remember in general that your loved one may only be looking for a listener, not an advisor.
They don’t necessarily want you to “fix” them or their problems. The better a listener you are, and by following these suggestions, the more your loved one will talk to you.
Well, I have to go!