You want to be a supportive listener. You want to be there for your friend, you want to really hear and give the gift of understanding. But you’re having a problem finding enough empathy inside yourself to help them find their inner truth.
Maybe you hear them get stuck on a lack of material things that you don’t value. Maybe you think they are creating their own relationship conflict just to add drama to their life. Maybe you want to let them know that they have reached a cul-de-sac on their conversational journey.
It happens. We’re all human, and it’s difficult not to have an emotional reaction while listening to other people talk through their issues.
In fact, just reading about friends’ successes online can make us feel less satisfied with our own lives, according to a new study about the new phenomenon called “Facebook Envy.”
But here’s one fascinating takeaway about “Facebook Envy.” The people most likely to become jealous and frustrated are those who passively read posts and look longingly at others’ vacation photos without engaging in any active conversations themselves. Their passivity puts them in a position to be envious!
In real life, an active, engaged listener will let someone know when it sounds like they are taking an unproductive talk detour. They will speak up. To do this while still remaining supportive, you must first understand and be in command of your own feelings. Why does this particular topic cause a reaction in you as an engaged listener? Next, earnestly try to understand if there might be more going on behind the actual words being spoken.
Once you have that sorted out, it is important to let the speaker know how you are feeling. Honestly acknowledge all the emotions in play on both sides, so a deeply meaningful conversation can take place.
Helpful tip on managing emotions:
A “mysteriously” helpful exercise to lessen the awful feelings that accompany being envious or judgmental is to recognize when you are having either of these feelings and actually identify and say to yourself “envy” or “judging.” With practice, labeling these feelings becomes a powerful, helpful habit that can greatly lessen being envious or judgmental.
Let us know how this practice works for you.