Tips for Good Listening in Cancer
These tips are good for you to listen to anyone – if you have cancer these tips will be useful to enable you to understand more about what people (friends, employers, healthcare professionals etc.) are saying and then later to question what the other people say (and think about how you say things in a more useful way – see Never Assume you Know earlier post as well).
Focus and put your attention on what the other person is actually saying, rather than on the other person and what you think is the right way.
Give the other person time. Wait for your chance to talk. Allowing them space to share their problems helps you and the other person to understand more clearly what the problem is for the other person.
Mentally create your own picture (or whatever other way you remember things that have been said) of what the other person is saying, but remember it is just your own picture, not theirs.
Repeat back exactly what the other person says, in the other person’s words or phrases, exactly as the other person said them. This helps the other person to know that you are really listening, and it saves you trying to understand the other person by ‘interpreting’ what they say.
You know that voice in your head (we all have one)? Turn it down or off (it’s possible, honest). Having a real interest in what the other person is saying helps us concentrate better on the other person.
Pay close attention to the words that the other person is emphasising and repeating (listen out for repeated words and phrases; they sometimes emphasise something in their tone, or the way they use their hands or look in a particular direction).
Ask yourself if the other person has finished thinking. Do their eyes look like they’re still considering what they’ve just said? (People move their eyes when they are thinking!)
Soft focus your eyes in order to take in the whole scene rather than looking into other person’s eyes. There’s so much going on in a conversation you’ll miss things that are going on if you insist on looking in their eyes. This can help put things in perspective. You’ll also notice their gestures more; remember their gestures are just their gestures, avoid reading something into the gestures.