On Bell Let’s Talk Day, psychologist says let’s also listen

Dr. Heather Fulton with the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction has listening tips

Last year, #BellLetsTalk was the most-used Canadian Twitter hashtag, according to Twitter Canada. The campaign even gained the attention of Ellen Degeneres.

But on Bell Let’s Talk Day 2019, which takes place on Wednesday, it’s important to also listen, says Dr. Heather Fulton, a registered psychologist at the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction.

“Let’s Talk is really important for reducing stigma and talking about mental illness,” said Fulton. “Part of that is, let’s listen to what people have to say.”

READ MORE: Let’s Talk: Nearly 1 billion interactions on mental health since 2011

“Listening is really important because it communicates to that other person that their responses, feelings, thoughts and actions make sense and they’re understandable,” she said. “It’s not necessarily agreeing with them or you conveying that you like what they’re saying, but that you get them, you understand them and it helps that relationship.

“It can be one of the most powerful things that we do with someone.”

While many people think they’re good at listening, “perhaps they’re not actually as good as they think they are,” Fulton said.

Common pitfalls include the compulsion to dole out advice, “but feeling truly listened to and understood can be much more helpful than any advice or suggestions that we offer,” she said.

RELATED: First responders share struggles with adversity in new Delta Police podcast

Another pitfall is depending on platitudes like “it happened for a reason” and “it made them a better person.”

“Often when we say those phrases, we say them because we feel uncomfortable, we don’t know how to help and we want them to feel better as fast as possible,” Fulton said. “But they rarely have that intended effect of helping the other person, and often they actually make a person feel worse.”

Instead, Fulton suggested practicing active listening by concentrating on what the other person is saying, and using nonverbal cues such as eye contact and nodding your head.

Further, stating feelings descriptively like “you felt ignored” and showing tolerance by trying to understand the person’s emotions and reactions based on their life circumstances are tested and true listening techniques.

“With listening… just listen. Be present,” Fulton said. “You don’t have to fix things, nor are you really able to. Just ask them how you can help anyways.

“Sometimes it might just be sitting and listening to them, bearing witness to some of their experience. Showing them that you’re not uncomfortable with them or their emotions can be really validating.”



karissa.gall@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North Okanagan delegates off to BC Winter Games

Athletes, coaches and officials making the long trek north

Top senior curlers converge on Vernon

Vernon Curling Club hosts B.C. Senior Men’s and Women’s finals, starting Tuesday.

Vernon Mustangs dominate D Final

Hosts crush Merritt 18-4 at Coca Cola Classic Peewee tourney

Vernon Vipers hold off Warriors

BCHL: Vipers in dogfight with Wenatchee, Salmon Arm for third place in Interior Division

North Okanagan Knights draw Chiefs in first round

KIJHL: Knights closing out regular season; will play division-winning Kelowna in opening round

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

B.C. VIEWS: Inaction on pipeline protests not a viable response

Columnist Frank Bucholtz on how the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute got so bad

PHOTOS: Top 10 memories of the 2010 Olympics

Black Press Media’s Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

#FoxForFiver: Support grows in B.C. to put Terry Fox on new $5 bill

Terry Fox’ Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research

Registration opens soon for BC 55+ Games in Richmond

2020 55+ Games have been officially scheduled for Sept. 15 to 19

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Most Read