We’ve all heard the rules for positive listening. You know: Being alert to non-verbal cues. Mirroring a person’s expressions and body language.
Clarifying their intent with phrases like “So what you’re saying…” Giving them just the right amount of eye contact.
All of which is very intelligent. Very rational. And there lies the problem if you’re talking to someone about their mental health. It’s just not enough. In this kind of conversation, you need to engage your gut and heart too.
A Lifeline Crisis Support worker gave me a great expression to describe this, “Sit with their pain and hear their hurt”.
I think that’s how you develop a little thing called empathy.