If you want to be a better listener to troubled people, print this out and carry it in your pocket. When someone you care about expresses a great problem, worry, or difficulty, take out the cheat sheet to help you come up with one of these responses:
TO SHOW EMPATHY AND OPEN COMMUNICATION, SAY:
- I guess you're feeling . . . (fill in an appropriate feeling - worried, anxious, distressed and so on). Is that it?
- You seem . . . (fill in an appropriate feeling).
- It sounds like . . . Is that it?
- I guess you wish . . . Is that it?
- You sound upset (angry, frustrated). What's up?
- You seem worried that ... is going to happen. Is that it?
BEFORE GIVING ADVICE, YOU MIGHT SAY
- So you’re saying . . .
- What have you tried so far?
- How did that work?
- What else have you considered?
and then -- if you really, really want to give advice -- say:
- Do you want to know what I think?