The Benefits of Reflective Listening
Feeling heard and listened to is arguably one of the better feelings within any relationship. When we feel heard and listened to by a friend, a romantic partner, a colleague, a boss or even the general public, it can make a difference in one’s life. When one feels as if they are not listened to, they may feel dismissed, invalidated, “shut down” and ignored—as if their thoughts, feelings and needs are not important.
People want to have a voice in their relationships on a micro level, and some want to see their voices represented on a macro level, because this means their needs are important to others. Focusing on the micro level within those personal relationships, reflective listening is a tool that can help you and help those around you, creating more stable relationships and more motivation to maintain that effective communication and a sense of safety.
Reflective listening is a simple skill to learn and utilize. There are varying levels to the skill, but the most basic one, that anyone can really learn, is to hear what the other person is saying, and respond back to them using their language and framing the statement in a supportive way. There are times when people need to be validated. When someone explains that they are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, listen and reflect back to them that you understand their feelings and they are valid.
The direct mood and esteem shift when using reflective listening is significant. There are improvements in closeness between romantic partners, increase in comfort in friendships and increase in motivation and feeling valued in work relationships.
We can help to lift others by making space for them. Safety is a necessity and truly non-negotiable. It is one of the foundational building blocks on the way to happiness, contentment, esteem and accomplishments. When people feel safe, they are more able to meet their full potential.
Students who feel supported and nurtured by teachers end up becoming more successful in their learning, completion of work and attendance in school. Those children who don’t have environments at home where they are feeling heard and listened to, are looking for that in other places, such as school, counselors, coaches, friends and mentors. This further proves the importance of the safety that feeling heard brings into one’s life.
Therapists, counselors and other human services professionals are taught this skill and other listening and communication skills in college. However, they are skills that are so simple and attainable to any layperson and can make a difference in the lives of others.
On the macro level, communities that feel heard begin to make strides in policies that impact great amounts of people, as well as pave the way for younger generations to illicit positive and necessary changes—and it all starts with feeling heard.
Marissa Campbell is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker based out of Ridgefield, where she practices different modalities of psychotherapy with individuals and families at Inner Health and Healing of NY & CT. She is also a Reiki Master and loves incorporating energy work with the healing process. Connect at ihhnyct.com.
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