Updated: Dec 23, 2020
Many of us are problem solvers at work or as parents (of any age or species), so it's natural to jump into thinking and responding when speaking with a family or friend or even stranger.
But many times just the act of listening is what is needed. Pure, non-judgmental listening.
In Mindfulness practices we are taught to listen to ourselves without judgement. It's important to pull that through to those around you.
Next time you are in a conversation and someone is actively sharing a situation or feeling - pause and make that awareness connection, focus on them and not what you plan to say next. It's not easy. It takes purposeful effort.
Even allow a moment of silence - yeah, that awkward silence that is uncomfortable. Let the person have time to finish their thoughts.
How to respond?
Every situation will be unique, but gentle responses can be "I'm sorry you are feeling that way", " It must be hard to have those feelings" and "I'm here for you". Next, you then ask permission to provide support or ideas, before jumping into problem solving. "Can I help?" or "How can I help?" Then pause again and wait for a response.
The response you get may just be "You just did - by listening".