Learning To Be A Better Listener

Learning To Be A Better Listener

Gaining confidence in your skills as a confidant.

In my life, I have had nothing but experiences. Experiences good and bad, big and small, all of which perpetually and infinitely overlap with the lives and experiences of those around me. It’s easy to want to make those connections in day-to-day conversation, to want to bring your own life into comparison with those around you, because in some ways it feels right to let others know that they’re not alone in what they’re going through and what they’re feeling. But as I’ve gotten older and as I am coming into contact more and more with people dealing with the pressures of the adult world, I've learned that it can take away from the salience of another’s experience to be constantly connecting it to your own. That being said, as I get older and I meet more people, I am learning to become less of a sharer, and more of a sponge.

Being a confidant can be particularly difficult, especially considering that the greenness of my springtime youth was flecked with the harsh winter of adulthood before it could ever really fully blossom. All grandiose metaphors aside, I’ve seen some things. And it can be easy, when other people are going through crises of faith and family and finance, to hear what’s being told to you and go “Oh yeah, the same thing happened to me when I was nine.” I am coming to realize that such a comment, while seemingly appropriate, can actually trivialize the other person’s own experience. They may be dealing with it and struggling now, but then to hear you say that is like hearing someone say “I wasn’t even in training bras when I decided God wasn’t real, and I made it through— don’t be such a wuss.”

Given, perhaps my own life experience and personal recommendations of ways to fight through might come in handy somewhere down the road, but at that moment all that person is probably seeking is validation in their own feelings. Validation, which I have in the past poo-pooed. If we’re being honest, I think it’s a term that has been exhausted by the contemporary youth, nevertheless, it is something I’ve come to recognize as being incredibly important and highly covetous. I’ve personally been dealing with some big people issues as of late, and feeling as if the problems that I have are somehow minimized because those around you have felt the same way, or potentially worse, in no way makes said feelings feel any less critical. Sometimes, when offering a shoulder to cry on, the best thing to do is embody the shoulder, to be the literal shoulder, and remain completely silent and supportive.

There is, of course, an appropriate way to respond to other people’s disclosed problems without being a big-mouthed one-upper. You can ask questions, inquire further, push the person to think more about their own experience versus forcing them to think about yours. I have taken to imagining myself, having never felt what that person has felt, and experiencing it with them as a means of building empathy because we all individually feel differently. Because we all individually feel differently, we also all individually experience our experiences in a way which is incomparable to anyone else’s, even if the storylines are near identical.

Imagine every life experience like a scene, but for every person experiencing it, a different director picks up the script. For some, a situation might feel more Wes Anderson than Quentin Tarantino, and even though the dialogue might be a word-for-word match, the presentation is uniquely their own.

Cover Image Credit: Stocksnap / Pixabay

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To The Girl Who Always Feels Left Out

Maybe next time...

To the girl who always feels left out,

Girl, let me just tell you, I know the feeling. It feels as though my whole life, I have been that girl. You know that feeling when you are standing in a group of people and someone comes up and asks everyone to go to lunch in that group... But you?

Or they make it even worse by saying "Oh, I guess you can come too." You guess I can come to?

No, thank you.

At that point, you feel like the only reason you are being invited is that they feel like they have to. Which more than likely is actually the case. What about when you ask your friend to hang out and she can't because she will be doing homework all night? However, an hour later, you see her with your other best friend. Oh okay cool, sorry for bothering you with my friendship.

You know you are the girl who is always left out when you are the designated "photographer" or you have to specifically ask if you can take a picture with them because they are obviously done taking pictures and did not want one with you.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who 'Float' Between Friend Groups

We all know "Hey, will you take this picture of us?" all too well. Am I right, ladies? Oh yeah, it is fine. I hate being in pictures. I definitely hate taking pictures to remember this wonderful time I'm having.

What about when you and your friends discuss doing something later during the week and you ask about it but "It's probably not happening anymore." Then you check and would you look at that, your "friends" are having fun without you.


Oh but don't worry about it, I had things to do anyway. You know, clean the house, work on homework that is due next week, binge-watch The Office for the third time this week. Fun stuff. Oh and better yet when you see your friends are hanging out without you. The next time they see you, they talk about how much fun they had.

Oh yes, please tell me about how much fun you had without me. I totally enjoy hearing about how "I totally missed out" and "I should have come." Well, an invite would have been well appreciated. But maybe next time, right? Wrong.

Yeah, I know what you are thinking, "Wow this girl is being so petty." Well if you are thinking that, then you obviously do not know the feeling. And to think about it, you probably are not the one in the friend group who is being left out. So think about who that person is and make them feel included next time. It would be greatly appreciated. You do not know how much of a difference it could make.

Yes, I know everyone feels left out sometimes, but time after time, it starts to get really old. Then after you have to start inviting yourself to hang out with people, you realize well since they are not inviting me themselves, maybe they don't want me here. And then surprisingly, you stop hanging out with them. Hmmm, I wonder what could've possibly happened.

Yes, I know, most people do not do this on purpose. I am sure I have even done it once or twice without realizing it, and I am truly sorry.

From one left out girl to another,

Good Luck

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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7 Signs You've Found An Authentic Friend

Never take true friendships for granted.


In a generation like ours, sometimes it's hard to distinguish a lifelong friend from a temporary one. There are friends for every part of your life: your childhood friends, college friends, work friends, and even friends that you play poker with at your retirement home. But one thing holds true during your life journey, hold on to your authentic friends. Here's how to distinguish one from an ordinary friend.

1. They remember specific details you've told them in the past.


How did they remember that your dog was turning 12 on June 6th? It's because they genuinely take the time to listen to you. This shows how much they care and want to know about your life.

2. They care about your well-being.


If you've heard your friend say things like "drive safe" or "text me when your flight lands", this shows how much they care about your safety. Authentic friends will make sure you are protected and feeling happy.

3. They always want the best for you.


We all know there is a big difference between a jealous friend and a supportive friend. Surrounding yourself with friends that want the best for you is important. More positivity will be brought in your life if you are aware of maintaining an encouraging environment for yourself.

4. They will be extremely honest with you.


True friends say it like it is. They won't lie and tell you your skirt matches your shoes if it doesn't. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to distinguishing a genuine friend.

5. They keep your secrets safe.


You can trust them and tell them anything. Authentic friends won't repeat secrets you've told them to anyone else, and this is such a refreshing feeling! These are reliable and trustworthy people.

6. They will go out of their way to help you.


This relates to caring about your well-being because they will do anything for you. Your true friends will go the extra mile without hesitation. They will be there for you wherever you need them and won't expect a favor in return.

7. They embrace your goofy side.


Everybody's got one! If you are able to be your true goofy self around your people then you, my friend, have found a true one! Enjoy being weirdos together.

If any of your friends meet these criteria, then you are blessed! Never take your true friendships for granted.

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