The One Skill You Need to be a Good Enough Listener

Sometimes you don’t need to learn the whole toolkit

Jean Anne Feldeisen


Photo by Matthew Tkocz on Unsplash

“Empathy is the ability to step outside of your own bubble and into the bubbles of other people.” C. Joybell

A few weeks ago I posted about the skills needed to be a helpful listener to a grieving friend. Looking over the post I felt it might be hard to achieve at first.

While my list of six qualities (plus two for bonus points) is definitely a good long term goal, it does require learning and practicing many skills. I’m a professional listener myself and I’m not able to do all of these things much of the time.

Maybe it was asking too much of most people. Everyone has their own issues, responsibilities, challenges, priorities. If someone has a moment to help a friend, they’re not going to pull out this list.

My article asks you to

  • Put your own needs aside
  • Be totally present
  • Use encouraging body language and tone of voice
  • Let your friend set the pace and draw their own boundaries
  • Ask what you can do and do it
  • Don’t take things personally
  • Be persistent
  • Be creative
  • Etc

The list is pretty long and hard to remember. Using all of these suggestions would no doubt make you an awesome listener. But suppose you’re not in that place yet. Suppose you’re just a friend who wants to help today?

Instead of the long list you might start with this one word-empathy

And a picture that would capture the spirit of an empathetic listener

Suppose your friend gave you the opportunity to hold their life in your hand just…



Jean Anne Feldeisen

I've got my fingers in way too many pots. Cook, writer, poet, reader, musician, therapist, dreamer, a transplant from New Jersey suburbs to a farm in Maine.