Change Your Mind, Change the World

Center for Healthy Minds

University of Wisconsin–Madison
625 W. Washington Ave.
Madison, WI 53703-2637
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The Art of Listening

Practice the art of listening and the power of presence
Shilagh Mirgain

Many of us are guilty of talking more than we listen. But research suggests that offering emotional support to others can benefit our own well-being.

Center Collaborator and UW Health Clinical Psychologist Shilagh Mirgain shares three key points that help us deepen our connection with others:

Listening is an Art

There is power in the human connection. We thrive when we feel heard and when we are seen. Practice mindful listening by giving people space, avoiding interruption and allowing time to answer your questions.

Presence is Powerful

Be aware of what the other person needs – whether that’s reassurance or validation. Most often, we need hope that the problems we are going through today will become the solutions of tomorrow. Encourage one another’s potential, purpose and possibilities.

Words can Heal

When someone is going through a crisis, don’t rush in with unwanted advice. We often want to fix things quickly, focus on the silver lining or share what’s happened to us, but this can minimize the other person’s experience. Validate and acknowledge what the person went through by saying simple things like “I’m so sorry you had to experience this.” Reassure them that you’ll be there by asking how you can help, which empowers them to find solutions for themselves.