Ralph Nichols once said, "The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood." This is especially true for those with disabilities, who often feel unheard and unseen in a society that does not always prioritize their needs. As such, it is important for all of us to make a conscious effort to ensure that those around us feel heard and seen, regardless of their abilities.
We all want to feel like we're being heard and seen, don't we? It's a basic human need that's universal. And if we want our relationships to really flourish, we need to make a conscious effort to make sure the people around us feel that way too. By doing so, we not only improve our communication skills with those we love but we also empower the people in our lives. So, here are a few simple ways to help make someone feel heard and understood.
Active listening means paying attention to what someone is saying without mentally planning your response before they have finished talking. It helps us refrain from making assumptions about what they might say or what we think they are trying to say.
BE FULLY PRESENT
When you are with someone, make a conscious effort to give them your undivided attention. Being fully present with someone is one of the greatest gifts you can offer another person.
Reflective listening allows the other person to really know that they are being heard. After listening to what they have to say, you can use simple phrases such as “I hear what you are saying” or “I can see how that must have made you feel.”
VALIDATE THEIR FEELINGS
We all have an emotional experience that is individual to us. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel. To make another person feel heard and understood, we must be considerate when validating whatever emotion, they are trying to express.
LISTEN WITHOUT TRYING TO “FIX”
For many of us, our instinct is to “fix” or “solve” problems. But when people come to us, they most often just want space to express themselves freely. Try to practice listening without the need to offer a solution unless you are asked for one!
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. When we practice empathy, we put ourselves in the shoes of the other person and try to see things from their perspective. This can be a powerful way to make someone feel heard and understood, as it shows that we are truly trying to connect with them on an emotional level.
It's easy to fall into the trap of judging others, but doing so can make them feel dismissed and unimportant. To make someone feel heard and understood, it's important to avoid judgment and instead focus on listening and empathizing with their perspective.
Asking questions can be a great way to show that you are engaged and interested in what the other person has to say. It also allows you to clarify any confusion or misunderstandings that may arise during the conversation.
After a conversation, it's important to follow up with the other person to show that you value their thoughts and feelings. This can be as simple as sending a quick text or email to check in with them and see how they're doing.
Now most important all…
REMIND THEM HOW MUCH THEY MEAN TO YOU
What better way to make someone feel heard, seen, understood than to simply tell them how much you value them and to tell them that you love them for everything that they are.
Understanding and being understood are essential to human connection and communication. By practicing active listening, being fully present, reflecting on what we hear, validating feelings, and showing empathy, we can make the people in our lives feel heard and seen. Remember, the simple act of telling someone how much they mean to you can also go a long way in strengthening relationships and making others feel valued.