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8 Worthwhile Benefits for Learning to Listen in Recovery

listenIf you tend to be the type of person who is too busy thinking about what you are going to say to really listen when others are talking, you would probably benefit from improving your listening skills. There is no need to feel any embarrassment about any failings you have in this area because most people are poor listeners at least some of the time. Listening is actually a skill, which can take time and practice to become good at. Below are just some of the benefits you can gain from becoming a good listener.

1. It Means You Can Pick Up the Information Needed to Build a Strong Recovery

Plenty of valuable information is out there that you can use to build a great life away from addiction. In order to absorb this knowledge, you need to be able to listen carefully in a non-judgmental way and reflect on what is being said. If you just automatically dismiss information that does not fit in with your current worldview, or ignore what is being said because you do not like the speaker, you could miss hearing something that could radically improve your life. You are never going to learn anything valuable by talking – it is only by listening that you can pick up life-changing information.

2. Being a Good Listener Means You Can be of Real Value to Others

If your friend comes to you with a problem, the most effective thing you can do to help them is to really listen to what is being said. This person is not usually expecting you to come up with a solution, but sharing a problem can be peace of mind. If you are constantly interrupting your friend with solutions, this person would not feel like he or she is being listened to. The best thing you can do in this situation is to really focus on what is being said and only speak when looking for clarification or to show that you are listening (or example, encouraging words like “I see”). Once the person is finished talking, only then is it the right time to suggest possible solutions.

3. It makes it Easier to Build Friendships

If you have a reputation for being a good listener, others would want to be around you. It shows that you are a compassionate person, which is a very attractive character trait. One of the real dangers for people in recovery is loneliness because this can easily lead to relapse, but being a good listener will draw new individuals to you so you can build a new social network.

4. It Should Make It Easier To Find a Romantic Partner

If you are single and in recovery, you are probably going to want to enter the dating world once you feel strong enough. If you are unused to socialising without the assistance of alcohol or drugs, you may find this a bit of a challenge, but only in the beginning. This is another area of life where the ability to listen will pay dividends. One of the worst mistakes that many make on a first date is to spend too much time talking about themselves. This is an unattractive thing to do because it sends out the signal that you are self-obsessed and needy, not really caring about your date. By being able to listen to this other person, you are far more likely to have a second date.

5. It Allows You to Discover New Opportunities

Being a good listener means that you could hear things that trigger ideas or allow you to discover new opportunities. There are countless examples of people who became rich after being inspired by something they heard in a conversation. If you have your ears open, a wealth of knowledge out there can benefit your life. You are likely to find far more opportunities from listening than you ever will from talking.

6. It Will Improve Your Relationships

Problems with communication are the most common reason why relationships start to fall apart. If a loved one feels that you do not listen to him or her, it will lead to resentment. These bad feelings can build up over time until it eventually leads to a bust-up. You need to do more than just passively stand there while this other person is talking; you need to demonstrate that you are truly listening by summarising in your own words what has been said. Let the other person speak, and do not always focus on defending your own ego; if you can do this, you can look forward to strong and meaningful relationships.

7. It Can Reduce Self-Absorption

When you are truly listening to others then it means that you are not going to be focused on your own problems. It is comparable to getting a holiday away from yourself, which can be very good for you. It is common for people who fall into addiction to become self-absorbed, and this habit can follow them into recovery. This is a problem because if you are always focused on your own problems then it means that life can feel a lot tougher than what it actually is.

8. It Means You Find out more about the World around You

There is so much exciting stuff to find out about, so when you know how to listen it means you soak up information like a sponge. Having an active interest in the world not only makes you a more interesting person, but it can also boost your self-esteem and encourage you to try new things in life.

Tips for How to Become a Good Listener

Here are a few suggestions for how you can become a much better listener:

  • count to 10 after people have stopped to talking to make sure they have finished saying what they want to say
  • make frequent eye contact when in a one-to-one conversation (although you need to be aware that in some cultures making eye contact is discouraged)
  • use your body language to show the person that you are listening
  • use empathetic words like “go on”, “right” or “I see” to show that you are listening
  • don’t interrupt when the other person is telling you there problem – only offer suggestions after you are sure they have stopped speaking
  • ask questions for clarification
  • turn off your mobile phone during a serious conversation
  • offer the person your full attention.

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