Social distancing and Active Listening

Ok, so as a Grief Counsellor I have had to learn the skill of active listening to aid and help my clientele. Within this time of social distancing, we have turned to audio chatting platforms such as facetime, social media like Facebook and Instagram, as well as different web-based conferencing tools like Zoom, Google meet, and Skype to stay connected. We have lost something in the translation as we mentally have had to learn so many new things in such a short period of time to stay connected. For those of you that were already leveraging these modes and types of communication, there were still some adjustments for you as well, as social distancing has limited your follow-through for many of the tasks that you used these tools for in the past. Our brains have been under serious transformation shift and for a lot of us it was a battle within our minds as many went with resistance, kicking and screaming. Not to mention that we thought it was going to be temporary and 3 months and counting has pushed many of us past our threshold.

So I would like to give you 7 things that you can do to help to better communicate when trying to share on these various platforms.

  1. Remember that you can transmit your heart by sharing more feelings than information. for example- “I am here alone” are the facts, “I am feeling lonely” is sharing feelings. For those listening you can be direct to help others share feelings by asking “how are you feeling?” or “how did that make you feel?”
  2. Don’t expect that people on Social Media automatically know you so they should know your heart. Stay away from trolls and conversations that are not worth the time or energy. Take meaningful dialogue off to private platforms where you can control the narrative and express your feelings more directly without other people’s comments.
  3. Add words to your picture and video posts to give description and more reason to why you personally posted. For those with businesses and organizations pages please remember this affects your overall brand. How you behave now will be how we see you in the future.
  4. Stay present to the moment and watch people’s faces and body language to gain extra cues. Ask questions and repeat what you are hearing. Try not to express your personal bias, and pre- judgments, but if it is warranted in the conversation then be kind and gentle in your delivery. Think of it in terms of using honey or deciding to throw bricks when dealing with people you care about and love.
  5. Sorry goes a long way. Justifying yourself when you have hurt someone else with your words is not helpful. De-escalate the tension. Seek to understand and not always trying to be understood.
  6. Remember that there are things you don’t even know you don’t know. We can always learn something new. These lessons are lifetime lessons. This is our classroom.
  7. Give your self a break- we are all navigating new territory and the unknown. We have not been this way before. We are the pioneers. Forgive yourself for the mistakes and do better now that you know better.

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