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The idea of being a good listener is almost a cliche. Yet, most of us are terrible at it.
Becoming a good listener is not that difficult if you know where to start and are willing to practice. If cultivated, the quality of your most important relationships will dramatically improve.
Our ability to solve problems is helpful in life, but it is the wrong thing to do in situations when people simply want to be heard, understood, and feel connected.
When someone is scared, angry, depressed, or just upset, they don't want to feel like something is wrong with them. When you give unsolicited advice to someone who is struggling, you make them feel like a problem. Give advice when someone asks for it, otherwise, hold off on your wisdom and instead focus on being present.
Being a good listener is not about getting the facts about what made them upset. It is to be supportive, offer encouragement, and empathize.
Ask open-ended questions to communicate that you're interested in them. Avoid questions beginning with 'Why' and use 'What' or 'How' instead. Generic open-ended questions that work well are: