I’ve spent years in customer service, and I’ve more recently started learning about pastoral care. I admit that I was scared to take on this new skill. I’ve since learned that there is a lot of overlap with my existing experience.
One of the main parts of both is being present and listening to what is being shared. It’s calming to have someone really listen. It is disarming. Being heard makes it easier to believe a solution is possible, or at least that the answer you get is the right one for your situation.
And of course all of that makes it easier to give the kind of help being sought.
Listening can be powerful. So powerful, in fact that research suggests that some of the positive effects prayer has been shown to have might come from feeling that someone is listening, even with no tangible proof; even the agnostic can feel less lonely by praying to something they don’t believe in.
Feeling heard is comforting. Feeling heard is affirming. Actually being heard can be life changing. Knowing that you are being heard and that your words are being respected can make all the difference in the world.
And it goes the other way, too. Listening is a form of loving; allowing someone to reach you and risk being changed.
People who listen, learn. People who feel heard feel hope.