How often do you find yourself speaking to someone when you realise they are not actually listening to you?
As you will know for many years BGSG has run a helpline, and you never know who is on the other end of that call, but you do know that it has taken great courage for the caller to have picked up the phone.
You also know that every call will be from someone who is hurting and in pain.
Answering those calls must be done with care, patience and understanding.
The caller is unique, it is their story, their emotional well being that is important.
As a responder to that call, you may have heard the same story thousands of time, but each caller needs to feel they have your full attention at all times,they need to be confident you are engaged just with them in that moment.
Although, some callers get comfort from knowing that others have been through similar journeys, it is not for the responder to fall into the trap of saying;
I know what you mean, and this happened to me. I know how you feel.
The truth is, you don’t know how that caller feels, because we are all different and the way we feel is individual to us.
A responder should only ever share their own experience if invited by the caller to do so.
This call is never about you.
To listen properly you have to not jump in and interrupt, allow the caller to speak freely.
Allowing the caller the time and space to share their feelings is so vital, as all emotions are temporary, so that time talking will move on some of those feelings of hopelessness.
Talking to someone you don’t know allows you to unburden and shed some of that isolation, that human connection is very powerful and is never judgemental.
It is not the role of the responder to tell the caller what to do, but we can offer suggestions and ideas of how to deal with these crisis moments, to discuss strategies that might be helpful.
We also have to be aware of our limitations, for example, we should never give legal advice, we are not legal experts.
The next time someone is talking to you, give them your full attention.