In a high-tech world, it’s hard to tell if someone hears what you have to say. Between computers, smartphones, tablets, and gaming systems, there are enough distractions to keep a person busy for years. Does that mean that the art of listening is a thing of the past? Isn’t it even more important to know that someone heard what you said and validated your feelings by responding in an emphatic way?
Girls need to know you’re listening. They need to know that you care. It’s not enough to say that you are. As an adult, there are ways you can let her know you hear her and are in invested in the conversation.
Here are some ways to really listen to a girl when she’s speaking:
- Ask how she is doing and wait long enough to hear her response. Before offering advice or telling a comparable story, let her speak. Give her the opportunity to say what’s on her mind without interjecting a word. Something beautiful will happen in the process. She’ll start to trust you and come to you whenever she needs someone to talk to.
- Make eye contact with her and use nonverbal communication to let her know you understand what she’s saying. Nod your head in response to what she has said. Smile whenever its appropriate. Limit your distractions by putting your phone away and giving her your full attention.
- Reiterate what she’s said. Sum up what she said in your own words. Then determine what you should say in response. If it’s advice she’s seeking, make sure that it’s constructive and never harsh. Pay compliments where they’re due. Let her know that you appreciate the fact that she came and talked to you.
- Invite conversation at a later time. Let the girl know she is welcome to come to you at any time. Give her your phone number or email address. After a couple of days have passed, reach out to her to see if her problem is resolved or if she needs to talk some more. This is how you show that you care.
It’s important to let girls know they have someone on their side. By actively listening and offering your support, you help build trust and in return shape a young woman’s perception of herself. You provide a critical skill that she may not get from someone else. As a parent, teacher or youth leader, you need to know how to talk but more importantly, how to listen to and interpret the needs of the girls you encounter.