The Art of Active Listening: Enhancing Communication and Connection

We all have the ability to listen to our friends talk and be the shoulder they need to lean on. We ask them to hold the space for us too, when we’re feeling down in the dumps and can’t seem to see the light. We offload our own heaviness and rely on talking to our friends to gain clarity or insight.

As a life coach, the practice teaches us to ask questions of those seeking guidance. We are taught to be inquisitive, to keep trailing the path of questions until you find the root of the problem with the client. 

As friends though, when we listen and absorb what’s being said, we have a tendency to impart our knowledge based on our own experiences or belief systems. It seems we don’t actually ask our friends what they need. Sometimes though, we just need to lend our ears so they can feel heard and understood. Other times though, they may know where they want to get, but not the path to arrive there.

My suggestion though, is to simply take a moment and actively listen to our friends. Because, sometimes, we can guide them incorrectly. They may be have issues in their reslationshop. We may say they deserve better and leave their partners because we believe them to be unworthy, but it may not be what your friend wants to do. When they are ready to share, perhaps we could approach them with questions to guide them:

  • Are you happy?
  • Is this the experience you envisioned having for your ideal relationship? If not, what does that experience look like? How can you close that gap?
  • What do you want to change?
  • Have you openly discussed this with your partner?
  • Do you have any regrets?

No one asks questions. We just pass on advice as if they were in their shoes. Listen, ask questions to determine what they actually need. You might find yourself surprised.