I have the answer; I know exactly what you should do. Before the other person is even finished speaking, we blurt it out. You know what happens next?
Our perfect solution is perfectly useless and worse the speaker snaps: “You don’t understand!”
Listening can be one of the toughest things in the world because it requires the one thing we all lack, Patience. As Warren Buffett says, “It’s simple but not easy.”
Active listening is actually active understanding. Sometimes that’s all you need to do, just listen intently. The speaker will gain clarity by virtue of articulating their thoughts aloud. The inconsistencies will automatically be filtered out, all because of your quiet presence.
Seek clarity: If a thought doesn’t pass your high-standards of clarity then by all means seek clarity with pointed questions. Let the speaker explain and feel heard.
Summarise: Go one step further. Summarise what was said in your own words and understanding. When you hear the response “Exactly” you will know you are on the right track. Watch how the speaker feels relaxed and grateful.
Only when you have done all of this, should you dare to propose solutions- even professional counsellors don’t claim to be problem solvers, why should you. Our role as friends, family and well-wishers is to listen and prod and gently steer our loved ones in the right direction. It starts with listening #priceless