How to listen to suggestions and advice

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Posted 69 days ago Latest
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How to listen to suggestions and advice

Written by Dr Hannah Farnsworth

It’s easy to think that once you’ve asked for help, the hard work is done. However, knowing how to listen to someone else’s suggestions and be open to their responses and ideas is a vital part of the process.

 In this article, we’ll explore some important strategies that will help you truly listen to what someone else says when you seek help for your mental health. 

 We will use the word ‘friend’ throughout for simplicity, but you may choose to speak to a teacher, relative, counsellor or someone else you trust and respect.

 Be Open-Minded

Approach the conversation with an open mind, reminding yourself that your friend may not give the advice you expect. Everyone’s experiences are unique, so you may be presented with a perspective you haven’t previously considered or that feels uncomfortable at first.

Remember that the person offering support is unlikely to have all the answers. However, their input can still be valuable. Keeping an open mind will allow you to consider different ideas or solutions that you may not have thought of before, or that you might have rejected in the past.

Actively Listen

Active listening means being prepared to listen, and paying attention to the verbal and non-verbal messages that are being sent your way. If you actively listen, rather than just hearing the words, you are more likely to stay engaged in the conversation. By immersing yourself in what your friend is saying, your chat will be more helpful, constructive and valuable. 

Listen Without Judgment

When you are actively listening, do so without immediately forming assumptions or judgments. Avoid interrupting or dismissing your friend’s responses, even if their views challenge your own beliefs or experiences. Remember, you are trying to create a safe and supportive space to speak openly with each other.

Ask for Clarification

If something is unclear or you need more information, ask more questions to clarify what your friend meant. This can also demonstrate your commitment to understanding and learning from the conversation. You can also be sure that there are no misunderstandings.

Express Gratitude

Remember to show appreciation to your friend for their willingness to listen and offer support, regardless of whether you agree with their advice or feedback. Expressing gratitude fosters a sense of mutual respect and understanding, helping to strengthen your relationship. It also encourages open communication and support in future.

Reflect on the Feedback

After the conversation, reflect on it. Think about whether any of the advice resonates with your own experiences and emotions. Journaling can be a helpful tool for processing your thoughts and feelings after the conversation. This may help you gain more insight into your mental health, and areas that you may need to work on.

Take Time to Process

There is often no rush to make decisions after a conversation. Take the time you need to process what was spoken about, and any implications a decision may have for your overall wellbeing. New emotions may arise as you reflect on the feedback, and it’s important to honour and acknowledge how you feel. Remember to make time for self-care while you navigate this process.

 Seek Multiple Perspectives

Consider getting advice from different sources to get a broader range of advice. Confiding in friends, family members, mental health professionals and support groups can provide diverse perspectives and insights. This may empower you to make an informed decision about what is right for you as an individual.

Trust Your Instincts

While input from others is helpful, you are the expert on your own experiences and emotions. Trust your instincts so that you make decisions that align with your values and priorities, rather than doing something that was suggested but doesn’t truly feel right. Remaining in control of making sensible choices is an empowering way to look after your mental health. 

Set Boundaries

You may need time and space to process information, so communicate these boundaries with your friend clearly. This will help you receive support in a way that feels comfortable and manageable. Remember to be respectful of your friend’s boundaries, too – those who offer support may also need a break from talking.

Take Action

After talking to others and actively listening to their advice, decide how you want to move forward. You can use the feedback and insights gained to make personal changes, seek professional help, practice self-care, or implement healthy coping mechanisms. Taking action is part of being empowered to make positive changes in your life.

Final Thoughts

It is vital to talk to others about your mental health, but unless you can listen and take on board the suggestions and advice, you won’t get the most out of the conversation. Next time you speak to someone, practice active listening and follow the steps above to start your journey towards better mental health.

Posted by Dr Hannah Farnsworth

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