How to Listen to Someone’s Feelings
Many people are taught to deal with other people’s feelings by modeling the way the people close to them dealt with their feelings.
Growing up, I felt like the only acceptable feeling for me was happiness. Any other feeling I was overreacting, being a “crybaby”, met with anger, or ignored.
For years, I wouldn’t tell anyone how I felt about anything unless I’d known them awhile and felt that I could trust them with my feelings.
So what is a good way to respond to someone’s feelings?
- Listen to them. Let them explain their feelings to you or try to understand how they might feel as they talk. Let them talk it out. Sit quietly and just listen.
- Repeat back to them the way they said they feel. For example, “It sounds like you are feeling really mad right now.”
- Validate their feelings. Say something like “Anyone in that situation would feel that way. It’s ok to feel like that.”
- Ask them what they plan to do instead of telling them what you think they should do.
This might take some practice if you’re not used to it but it will make a huge difference if you’ve wondered why people get upset when you try to help them.