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  • Writer's pictureHannah's Hope

Talk Through It.

Andy Thornton, a cognitive behavioral hypnotherapist shared with Foothold, a website created to help engineers that offers a blog full of topics that vary in types of authors and topics relative to life and business, why conversations can be so important. Thornton wrote an article titled, "The Power of Conversation" to encourage readers to have conversations with others because they can be so powerful and purely listening can help someone when they truly need it most. Thornton shares that listening to people is his favorite part of being a therapist. He says that when people open up to him and share things with him that they may have never shared with anyone else, he feels truly privileged. Thornton also shares about his experience volunteering with the Samaritan helpline. In this role he is simply there to listen, not offer advice or answers; people need to speak without the fear of being judged or "fixed." There a few benefits to listening to a person and giving them space to feel safe. Their self-awareness grows, they will be able to better understand the real issues affecting their life, deep emotions will be released and new solutions to problems or issues the person is facing may emerge. Thornton adds that in his many years of serving his clients, who are ranging in their levels of "struggle," he has found that there is no "one" way to help a person, but listening and talking with them is undoubtedly a good place to start. It's true that conversation and connection can truly change a life. But in today's society, because we are all connected through technology, some people really struggle to have "real" conversations. Not having a true friend to talk to in a meaningful way could cause someone to bottle up their emotions or feelings and become overwhelmed or hopeless. Thornton poses the question, "So, what makes a good conversation?" and he goes on to list what he believes is important is creating the space for real connection. First, give the person permission to talk. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to give them verbal permission, but show them through your attitude and body language that you are present and they can say whatever is on their mind. Next, make it safe. In order for a person to feel as though they can talk freely, they need to know that they can speak without being judged and that they can trust you. It is also important that the intent of conversation is to build a strong relationship with that person. It helps to have an already established rapport with that person first so that when you do approach them, always with compassion and empathy, they feel that you are genuinely interested and available to listen. Building this strong relationships means that you have the room to ask questions, challenge their way of thinking or can simply be a sounding board for them. This is also an opportunity for you to be a guide for another person. It's common for people to sort of "beat around the bush" in a conversation and avoid talking about themselves, especially when the topic of conversation may be uncomfortable. In conversation, you can gently point them back to talking about themselves in way that makes them feel that they still have some control to talk about the real issues at hand. The conversation itself is also not the only important aspect of sitting down with something to talk; the power is also in simply allowing someone to be heard. When you really listen to someone and actually hear what they are saying, you become aware of their mannerisms, pace of speech, and tone of the their voice. These components of a conversation allow you to better understand how a person truly feels about a situation rather than just knowing that the situation is taking place. When you are wishing to have a conversation with someone you may notice that you feel scared because you don't really know what to say. It can feel pretty intimidating to want to have a conversation with someone but you don't know exactly how it is going to go. The best thing to do if something arises that you were unprepared for is to let the person know that it is ok for them to be feeling and expressing any sort of emotion. The whole point of a conversation is to make a person feel seen, heard and understood, so you don't want them to feel as if they have to keep their emotions locked away. It is also important to remind yourself during the conversation that you do not have to have all the answers, or any, for that matter. The goal is to allow that person to have the space they need to talk and get things out; they will likely come to a solution on their own by just being able to talk things through. It is also crucial that you think about yourself in this scenario as well. If the persons says something that triggers you or makes you feel emotional in some way. Talk about it with someone that you trust afterward, obviously without divulging any personal items the other person shared. Allow yourself to explore how the conversation made you feel. You are a person too and need to take care of yourself as much as you are willing to help and care for others.

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