Listening as an Exercise in Therapy

How to Listen to people and Make Friends

Photo by Franco Antonio Giovanella on Unsplash

Over the previous week, I have been trying to be retrospective, and one of the questions I asked was, "What have my best interactions with other people been? And, what was a common theme between them?". The common thread I found was that the best interactions have been when I and/or the other person is speaking their mind freely, and there exists something like a two-way bridge into each other's thoughts. The best way I've found to do this is by just listening.

Listening is one of the most fundamental and important tools of conversing. A good listener generally frees the other speaker to freely put their thoughts into words, and is able to react appropriately and timely, making the conversation move forward smoothly.

In all of the positive experiences I've had, they've always been when either I was listening as intently as the other person was speaking, or when I was listened to as intently as I spoke on a topic. On the other hand, the worst experiences I've had with people have been when either they keep interrupting when I've actually started talking about something with interest, or if they start talking and I accidentally interrupt them (although I try to bring back the flow by nudging them to restart now).

Coming to the title of the essay, I'm not sure whether listening is actually 'therapeutic' in the psychological sense of the word, but it does feel so. The listener isn't pressurized to add his inputs or think over complicated matters, they just have to listen to the story being told by the speaker and nudge them forward in the story. This in itself can be quite a meditative exercise, because one can relax, while still having a good chat. This is especially meditative for someone like myself who would rather talk with someone rather than watch a show or play a videogame to relax.

So, next time you're tensed, or have had a hard time completing some task, why not call up an old friend or colleague, or just hang out with your family, and listen ☕.