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Dismissive Listening

One way people can treat others poorly is by practicing dismissive listening rather than empathic listening.  It is a very common behavior.  It is so common, in fact, that many people don’t even realize that it’s not right.  They may feel badly after someone treats them this way but not necessarily know why, because in addition to being so commonplace, it’s also very subtle.

Dismissive listening can be recognized easily if you know what to look for.  Basically it is like the name says, it is when someone dismisses what you say.  Some common dismissive phrases are:

  • “Don’t be upset/sad/angry!” 
  • “The same thing happened to my friend!  She was fine though.”
  • “At least it’s not…<insert random bad thing here>”
  • “Well it could be worse!”
  • Any sort of toxic positivity phrase like, “cheer up!”, “Positive vibes only!” or “Think only happy thoughts!”

Dismissive phrases like these often try to shut down & even instill shame in the person talking to the dismissive person.  They also are a sign of someone trying to fix another person rather than listen to what they have to say.

While narcissists clearly are pros at dismissive listening, not everyone who talks this way is a narcissist.  Some people simply don’t realize how they are treating others is wrong. 

I urge you to pay attention to how people treat you when you talk.  If someone is quick to dismiss what you have to say, that is a red flag.  They may not be a totally unsafe person, but they may not be comfortable with the subject matter & as a result, want to stop you from talking about it.  Some people simply can’t handle talking about specific topics.  While that is fine, dismissing you if you bring up a specific topic isn’t fine.  The dismissive listening is a red flag that this topic isn’t a safe one to discuss with this person, so you should avoid it.  It also could potentially be a sign the person is dysfunctional or even narcissistic.  The way they behave otherwise will let you know what the case is.

I also want to urge you to pay attention to how you treat others when they are talking.  If you catch yourself being dismissive to others once in a while, it happens.  It’s normal, really.  On a regular basis though, it’s not good.  You can make changes though! 

Remember that being a good listener means you want to hear what someone has to say, & you make that obvious.  You make it clear you are willing to listen to them.  You let the other person speak without interrupting.  You don’t change the subject.  You let them speak without judgment or criticism. 

You also don’t need to offer advice unless the other person asks for it.  Unasked for advice is just rude & presumptuous! Not to mention, many people just need to vent rather than advice. 

Show empathy.  Let the other person know you care by saying things like, “That sounds really hard.”  “Can I do something to help you?”  “I’m here for you.”  & “I care.”  Those little phrases will make a huge difference to someone in need of a comforting friend.

Body language can be important too.  It sends subtle cues to the speaker that you are involved in this conversation.  Touch their hand, look them in the eye, maybe offer a hug.

Dismissive listening may not be the worst thing a person can do to another, but it still needs to be avoided in order to have healthy, happy relationships.

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health

August 22, 2013

I try to be positive or educational in my posts here, but today, I am angry for a couple of reasons.  Be forewarned- this post may be longer than usual.

I saw  this article the other day on facebook I wanted to read, but didn’t get back to it & unfortunately now I forgot where I saw it.  It was about how much responsibility is put on victims of abuse rather than on the abusers.  I only read about a paragraph- a short preview of it.  It said that we’re told we have to stop calling ourselves victims & instead say “survivors.”  We’re told we need to get over what happened to us & empower ourselves.  Things like this.  For a long time now, these phrases have irritated me & I never realized why.  The preview answered that for me- it said these things put all the responsibility on the victim & none on the abuser.  While yes, it is true it is up to a victim to heal & move on, when do the abusers get called out on their behavior?  Not as often as they should be!  How many people are told to be the bigger person with their verbally abusive mother in-law & just ignore her bad behavior while not saying anything to the nasty mother in-law or even making excuses for her?  How many rapists aren’t even labeled a rapist because he “only” pressured his girlfriend into sex until she gave in rather than holding a gun to her head?   How many people who have committed suicide were called cowards for “taking the easy way out” while those who pushed them to such a desperate point are not confronted?  While I’m not saying as a victim of abuse of any type, we shouldn’t try to heal or blame all of our problems on being abused, I am saying there needs to be a balance!  The abuser should be blamed for being abusive in the first place!  That person had a choice- to abuse or not to abuse.  They made a bad choice, & there is nothing anyone could have done to push them to that point.  It is all on them.  They deserve the blame for abusing you!

The other thing that has me angry today is the lack of compassion for those of us with mental illness.  I am utterly fed up with this!  I have heard so many times that I need to “get over it” or “stop living in the past.”  Yes, I have Complex PTSD, which means I have flashbacks, nightmares, depression, anxiety & agoraphobia.  However- this does NOT mean I’m living in the past!  This means I have experienced a lot of trauma in my life- enough to cause physical damage to my brain that resulted in C-PTSD, including all of its ugly symptoms.  

And, as early as this morning, I was “teased” about being “stressed” about seeing someone that causes me tremendous anxiety.  This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened.  It’s as if she thinks I have no right to feel this anxiety or have the problems I have.  She trivializes my problems & magnifies hers.  Never mind she has not been abused, & has no clue what I have lived through, her problems are always worse & I should just get over mine.   Meanwhile, I am having a terrible time trying to write this blog entry because all the anxiety I’ve experienced the last few days has left me unable to sleep well & not able to think very clearly.

My point of all this griping is we really need to have compassion on each other!  Whether you have experienced abuse or not, when dealing with someone who has, please, for the love of God, be patient, supportive & understanding!  Keep your opinions to yourself unless you are asked, & think before you speak.  Choose your words wisely.  Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes & understand how she or he is feeling.  I wrote some tips on how to help someone who has been abused on my website.  Here is the link…

http://www.cynthiabaileyrug.com/How_To_Help.htm

Thank you for listening to me rant this morning.  I pray you will be blessed & maybe even learned a little from my rantings.. 🙂

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health

May 19, 2013

The last week or so have been over the top negative & stressful to me.  As a result, I’ve had many panic attacks, haven’t slept much lately, had nightmares, etc etc.. 

Today, while my husband is out, I decided to relax & have some “me” time.  I sent prayer requests to a few Christian websites.  I then cranked up a folder of music on my mp3 player that I have titled “Songs That Make Me Happy.”  Yes, I listen to the same tunes over & over, but well, they make me happy!  I also took a nice, warm, relaxing shower followed by exfoliating my skin & applying a yummy lavender scented lotion.  The entire time, I prayed.  

No, it wasn’t an expensive or elaborate afternoon, but it made me feel better.  MUCH better.  

Partly why it made me feel better is the music.  I am not a fan of Christian or gospel music. I have nothing against it- just for some odd reason, it seldom “speaks” to me.  The cool part of that?  God still speaks to me through my taste in music.  Today, one of the songs I listened to was “That’s How They Do It In Dixie” by Hank Williams, Jr.  Listening to the song reminded me how I have lost myself & need to get back in touch with that Southern gal that lives inside me.  She is my true self- kinda rebellious, but a lady who while feminine will fight for what is right.  Another song was “455 Rocket”- about a gal with an Oldsmobile with a 455 cubic inch engine in it.  I happen to have one of those!  She raced hers, & I raced mine many times too (much to the dismay of the other guy!  lol).  It felt good remembering that.  I also am listening to several songs from the 80’s (when I was a teen) that remind me of when I was 19 in 1990 & had just moved out on my own for the first time.  It was the one time in my life I was actually able to be who I truly am- living my life on my own terms, not others’ terms.  

I’ve been “scolded” many times for not listening to more Christian music, but truth be told, I’m fine NOT listening to it.  God still speaks to me.  We’re still close.  Honestly.. if He was upset by this, I think He would have let me know it by now.  I just want those of you reading this now to know that God loves you & will relate to you however works.  He isn’t critical of that!  He invented all music (not just gospel & Christian songs), movies, books.. He will meet you where you are & loves you so much!

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