There are times when a loved one needs a comforting presence or when a friend needs someone who’s there for them. Know that you can help them. There are times when they’ll tell you about their fears and feelings… times when they’ll need a listening ear – these are the times when communication is truly important. You can help them by avoiding as much as possible the following barriers in communication:
Asking “why” often
Asking why puts them in a defensive position as if they’ll have to explain everything. If you’ll be in their position, what would you feel? What would you feel if someone asked you why you’re sad when there’s so much to be happy about? Let’s reverse the question. Why are you happy when there’s so much to be sad about? What if they’ll ask you why you didn’t do what you’re supposed to do? You see, asking why can make them feel they’re always wrong… that everything they do and feel is wrong.
Changing topics may seem a good idea for you when you start to feel uninterested in the things they’re saying. But remember that this is not about you. This is not about what you want to talk about or what you want to do because you are there to help them. Changing topics without considering the other person’s concerns can make them feel unimportant. They may feel what they have to say isn’t valuable enough.
Most of us are guilty with this. We often give advice to others thinking that it’s the best way to help them. But did you know that giving advice may just deny others’ right to make decisions for themselves? Saying “if I were you, I would…” or “you should…” isn’t always the best. In a counselling session, this is actually a big no-no. Instead, let them come up with a solution by themselves and be there as a guidance along the process.
This is also something we’re guilty of. Saying “don’t worry” or “everything will be all right” just implies unwarranted reassurance. Sure, it may comfort them but what would you do when “everything turned the other way around”?
These barriers in communication may just be simple things but are actually often overlooked. So the next time a friend or a loved one needs a listening ear, be there and remember these barriers in communication so you can communicate with them more effectively.