Supportive, active listening means giving your full attention to what the other person is saying. Truly listening and offering your unconditional support not only helps the person you're listening to, it also helps your overall mental and physical well-being

But active listening takes practice. Recognizing you want to be a better listener is a great place to start. Here are some ways you can improve your listening abilities moving forward. This can help you when you’re providing emotional support to someone you care about who is struggling, and in your life in general. 

  • Make eye contact and relax your face, be mindful of your expressions and body language

  • Observe their nonverbal cues 

  • Display open body language by keeping arms and legs uncrossed

  • Avoid answering your phone, texts, or being distracted by other sights and sounds

  • Avoid preoccupations, like checking the time or thinking about other things you need to do

  • Ask for clarification or expansion on specific points the person mentions

  • Listen with empathy and avoid judgment, criticism, or offering advice

  • Repeat back to the person what you heard to show you have a good understanding of the situation

  • Don’t add your opinions or make it about you

  • Avoid offering solutions unless they are solicited 

Can you reflect on your active listening skills? 

In what ways are you an effective listener?

How can you better assist others with their emotional needs?

Can you identify how supporting others helps you?