ACTIVE LISTENER TUTORIAL

This is a two-step process which takes about 10 minutes to sign up as a listener for this service. Please note that your membership would be accepted only after the completion of this tutorial. Follow the below steps to register as a listener:

  1. Sign up as a member

  2. Complete and qualify the active listening course

  3. Create your listener profile

  4. Wait for the Admin to assign you a narrator

INTRODUCTION

Active listening is a great way to support individuals and make them feel heard, valued and understood.
 

Why is Active Listening important?

Active listening is an invaluable communication skill used in counselling which can help in building strong relationships and strong and effective communication skills. It is also an essential skill for our personal and professional lives both. Great listening skills tend to improve self-esteem and self-image because, in their listening, they work toward establishing positive relationships. As an active listener, you will have opportunities to connect with diverse individuals and help them feel heard and cared for.

In the following sections we will briefly cover some core skills you need to be aware of for being an active listener:

SKILL 1: REFLECTING AND LABELING EMOTIONS
 

Reflecting back on the speaker’s words involves two steps: First, seeking to understand the person’s issues by offering the idea back to the person, to confirm an accurate understanding. This should often follow with the person providing more information if you have correctly understood the person’s stance. Second, this should often followed by identifying underlying emotions a person is going through. This shows you are attentive and may help them examine their emotions closely as well.
 

SKILL 2: ASKING QUESTIONS
 

Questions help you understand a person’s problem better, achieve the intimacy felt usually in face to face interactions, and show your interest in the person. Ask open-ended questions to which the person cannot answer a yes or no to:

  • What do you dislike about this situation?

  • What is the worst-case scenario?

  • How does this make you feel?

  • How would you like them to act?

  • Clarifying questions

     

SKILL 3: EMPATHY AND SHARING EXPERIENCES
 

To share an understanding of the person’s feelings, it is helpful to draw on one’s own experiences to imagine what the person is feeling and put yourself in their shoes. It is important to be non-judgmental and supportive even if you don’t agree with the person’s choices. Never criticize; think of it as an opportunity to gain an understanding about different perspectives. Sharing your experiences can be helpful in certain situations:

  • To help people feel less isolated/embarrassed by showing they are not alone

  • To provide hope; believing that someone else has lived through what they are experiencing can sometimes be very powerful
     

However it is pertinent to not use your experiences to belittle someone else’s experiences too.  Statement such as the following can be made:

  • I can understand why you’re feeling that way, I have been in a similar situation and while initially I was going through a lot of negative emotions, it got better with time and I believe it will for you too.

  • I wonder if you’re going through something similar that I have gone through. I was sad and depressed without much hope, is that how you are feeling or is it something else?

  • That would upset me too

  • I would feel that way too in your position
     

If you find yourself struggling with feelings while sharing your story, then you may be triggered. If this is happening, please exit the conversation and ask the member to reach out to us for a new listener.

Watch this video for a short understanding about Empathy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw&feature=youtu.be

 

SKILL 4: IDENTIFY STRENGTHS AND NEVER GIVE ADVICE


To identify someone’s strengths in handling a situation can feel extremely optimistic and hopeful. This helps in building self-esteem, eventually leading to the person finding solutions to their issues. Notice anything the person has done well, from accepting their feelings and standing up for themselves to passing an exam. Even reaching out at Nirvega is a sign of strength!


Use affirmations such as:

  • I appreciate that you have reached out to speak with me

  • You handled yourself really well in that situation

  • That’s very brave of you, standing up for yourself like that

  • I am so impressed with…


The goal is to empower the person in finding their way forward and never to give advice. Giving advice can be harmful, take away a person’s space from sharing their feelings and unhelpful. Additionally, it is impossible to know about a person or their situation from a conversation, hence you could do more damage than help. If someone asks you for advice:
Guide them to think about things from different points of view (For eg: What would you do if your friend was in a similar situation?)
Show your trust in their ability to handle the situation (For eg: You’re the expert here, I can’t give advice but help you figure out your way forward)

Once the person gives suggestions on improving their situation, give positive reaffirmations.


 

CHAT ETIQUETTE
 

  • Start with a warm welcome: "Hello, I'm glad you're here. I'm here to listen and support you. How are you doing today?"

  • Every chat need not end with a solution, making someone feel heard can itself be powerful in many ways

  • Do not bring your race/gender/religion etc as something superior or helpful to someone’s situation

  • Do not give advice, personal opinions or critical remarks


   Ending a Chat
 

  • Do not leave a chat without warning, wait for it to naturally end. If you need to go soon, let them know at least 10-15 minutes in advance through a heads up. For ex: I just want to give you a heads up that I need to leave in 15 minutes. What would you like to discuss in the remaining time?

  • If a chat isn’t reaching a conclusion, bring it to a natural close: We’ve been chatting for a while now and covered a lot of important details. How do you feel now?

  • Do set expectations in the starting about the time you have if you face difficulties in ending a chat, however do not rush through the chat.

     

REFERRING TO THERAPY

If you feel that the person is under significant emotional distress, is seeking professional advice or you have talked for a while but haven’t made progress, do convey the same to them and reach out to us referring them.


SUICIDAL VISITORS 

We are unable to support visitors who are considering suicide. All users agree that they are not suicidal before using the site. If you encounter someone with suicidal tendencies, encourage them to contact their local suicide helpline numbers and end the chat immediately.


 

YOUR SAFETY AND WELL-BEING
 

  • All users are anonymous to allow people to seek support without fear of judgement. Please follow the below tips for your own safety:

  • Never ask or share personal information(Name, email ID, contact, social media handles, location, photo, address, place of work, etc)

  • Do not click links that seem suspicious

  • Block users you do not wish to hear from

  • End the chat immediately if the user is being inappropriate

  • Do not engage in conversations that may personally trigger you- update your listener profile to mention the topics you are not comfortable listening about

  • You may also chat as a member to a listener, to help you with a possible triggering conversation