I’m here to hear…

Today is R U OK? Day.

It’s the one day of the year we are reminded to check in on friends and/or family and actually ask that question.

Are you OK?

I’m sure many of us would like to think we do this more than once a year, but it’s a timely reminder that sometimes we get so caught up in our own worlds and busy lives, that we might forget to ask.

Maybe we just don’t notice they seem more withdrawn than usual.

Maybe we do notice, but we just dismiss it and don’t think to ask anything further.

Maybe we ask – but do we listen to the reply?

Do we hear what that person is saying?

The theme for this year’s R U OK? Day is ‘I’m here to hear…’

It’s a clever concept, as in, don’t just ask the question ‘are you OK?’

Don’t just go through the motions.

Ask the question – and then listen.

Hear what the person has to say.

Really listen.

Two people in conversation
‘I’m here to hear’ Photo by Alexander Suhorucov

I came across an interesting article some time ago that talked about how sometimes, in an attempt to bond or show empathy with others, we have a tendency to over-share our own experiences.

When sometimes we should just listen.

Kim Felmingham, Chair of Clinical Psychology at The University of Melbourne, says the goal is to have a sense of balance.

“A vast body of psychology research tells us that, fundamentally, humans want to feel heard. If your friend has just told you about some significant thing that happened to them, allow them space to express their feelings and their experience,” she says.

“Jumping in too quickly with ‘Oh yes, that happened to me’, can end up saturating conversation and make your friend feel they were never heard in the first place. It can be inadvertently invalidating and feel unbalanced.”

When you listen to a person, engage with them.

Maybe nod, to show you are listening… or rather you are hearing.

You could reflect on what they’ve said in your own words – to show you were listening.

You could encourage action – asking what they feel they should do next – or maybe suggesting they talk to their doctor.

The key point is, that person feels heard.

So if you ask R U OK? today, really means it.

And remember, I’m here to hear🙏

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