Listening doesn't come easy. It is a skill, just like speaking and writing, and like any skill, you need to practice: The more you practice, the better you become.
We each have the ability to give this all-important gift – our time and attention. Here are some strategies to help you become a better listener:
1. Choose a private and comfortable place to talk. It could be on the phone, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype or any other mutual option.
2. Disregard your own feelings and thoughts and focus solely on the speaker.
3. Look directly at the speaker, if appropriate.
4. Avoid interruptions and don't talk.
5. Demonstrate warmth in your voice and your facial expressions.
6. Change position if you find your mind wandering or feel you are slipping away.
7. Stay calm and be patient.
8. Keep in mind that your attentive listening is better than anything you could possibly say.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, available in ebooks for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store.