How to be a good listener over text

How to Be Comforting Over Text Without Sweating Every Word

Your friend sends you long paragraphs about their breakup or their boss or their grief. How can you show them that you’re engaged and listening? Even before the pandemic, we’ve known there are certain aspects of face-to-face communication that are impossible to replicate over text or call. When you want to comfort a loved one, it’s frustrating to lose in-person subtleties like eye contact, a sympathetic nod, or simply being present.

At the same time, there are benefits unique to venting over text, like getting out an entire paragraph of a thought without interruption or distraction. As a listener, you also have the ability to take more time to craft a thoughtful response. You might even have the courage to type something out that you wouldn’t necessarily say to someone’s face.


Even with the obstacles of digital communication, most of the same traits of good listening still apply. It’s always worthwhile to read up on how to be a good listener when someone needs to vent. Below are more tips to be a good listener specifically over text.

How to use reflective listening

We’ve explained how to practice reflective listening in the past. The secret is to paraphrase and re-interpret what your friend is saying, rather than parroting their points right back at them. Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, explains that you should “use your own words to show that you’ve absorbed the information.”

If appropriate, you can also try to use your own words to describe how they might be feeling. An example that psychotherapist Sarah Rice gave Bustle is saying something like, “It seems like what you are experiencing is really difficult and frustrating.” This shows your friend that you’re not just listening to what they’re saying, but how they’re saying it.

Respond, don’t react

The beauty of texting is that your friend will get to finish their thought before you instinctively cut in with a question, a gasp, or a tangent. Instead of these kinds of impulse reactions, you have the time to craft a thoughtful response, like asking follow-up questions or getting clarification about what they’re feeling.


If you have listener’s writer’s block, here are some sentence starters you can try to respond, not react:

  • Do you mean…
  • It sounds like you’re feeling…
  • What I’m hearing is...
  • I’m sorry you’re going through this, [clarifying question]
  • Do you need solutions right now or support from me?

This is a key facet of reflective listening and becoming a better listener in general.

Mirror tone with your texting style

True, texting means you can’t pick up on tonal cues in your friend’s voice or body language. But if you notice they’re suddenly using perfect punctuation, now is not the time to communicate with emojis. Longer paragraphs of text can help demonstrate that you’re fully present, while short bursts of text can keep things light and ensure your friend feels comfortable. Mirror texting style as a way of reflecting your friend’s emotions.

Re-read their text before responding

While second-guessing and retyping your texts over and over could add stress to your friend’s situation, you can still take advantage of the time that isn’t available in face-to-face interactions. Give yourself 30 seconds before sending off your response. In addition to calming the pace of the conversation, you can make sure you’re being thorough and not leaving out key points from your friend’s end.


Can’t call? Try voice memos

If you and your friend have the same brand of smartphone, you can probably send each other voice memos. These are the secret weapons of quality vent sessions, especially if you struggle with typing out your thoughts and feelings. You get the benefits of uninterrupted rants that come with texting, as well as the emotional cues in someone’s voice that come with calls. Plus, you can re-record as many times as you need.

Manage expectations

With texting, your friend might dive into a full venting session when you’re in the middle of your work day, or driving somewhere, or generally distracted because life is exhausting. Clue them into where you are mentally and physically, so they know you are not purposefully ignoring them for whatever reason. If need be, consider telling them that you’ve read their texts but need a few hours to respond fully. Always opt for transparency.

Avoid iMessage reacts

Are you hearting my message because you love that I’m sad? What do those exclamation points even mean? These reactions leave too much up to interpretation, so skip them.

Be present

As with any kind of listening, your friend likely just needs to be supported and heard. Even over text, your job is not to be perfect but to be present. Sometimes–maybe even most times–this is as simple as finding a few different ways to say, “That’s rough, buddy.



28 ways to be a good listener over text

1 Avoid distractions

2 Ask clarifying questions

3 Prepare yourself to listen

4 Watch tv in spanish

5 Validate their feelings

6 Look the speaker in the eyes

7 Listen to learn, not to be polite

8 Pay attention to your talk/listen ratio

9 Empathetically repeat back what you heard

10 Check in with each other

11 Understand what listening looks like

12 Say it again

13 Tell the other person about your feelings and reactions

14 Summarise what youve heard with empathy

15 Get their full attention

16 Reassure the person of your confidentiality

17 Do not interrupt her

18 Use your head

19 Be an active listener

20 Adjust your body language

21 Stop giving unsolicited advice

22 Be present, just as you would in meditation

23 Remove stringent metrics

24 Dont pass judgment

25 Resist the fear of missing out (fomo)

26 Check your assumptions about what it means to say no

27 Consider how to use a modified no

28 Find a spanish speaker

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How to become a good listener — Work.


These tips are useful for those who understand the importance of listening to their interlocutor and want to become a popular listener themselves.

How to become a person that others like to talk to? publishes many years of research by journalist Eric Barker.

Don't try to impress others on purpose

Yes, we all crave respect, but too much effort in this area can lead to us being misunderstood. Show from the start that you are also vulnerable, be honest about who you are, how you think and feel. This will create an environment where your openness helps you connect instantly.

Encourage people to talk about themselves

Don't judge people when they reveal themselves to you. Nobody likes this, including you. Encourage others to tell your story while neglecting your own desire to tell something interesting. Those people who allow others to talk further, yielding their turn, are usually considered good conversationalists. They are the ones others turn to when they want to be heard without judgment. And it is they who quickly and successfully build a reliable contact.

Listen - and let's understand it

Silence and nodding are not enough. FBI hostage negotiators use a number of techniques to show kidnappers that they are really listening. Here are the most common ones:

  • Mirroring. Repeat the last 1-3 words of the interlocutor in the form of a question.
  • Marking. Give names to the feelings of others. If you repeat the essence of what you heard, and the person answers: "Exactly!" , then you did a good job.

Emphasize commonality

There are many studies showing that we like people who are similar to us. In every conceivable way, from background to choice of words, emphasizing similarities strengthens social relationships. When salespeople repeat the body language of their listeners, sales increase by 20%.

Questions give power

In a conversation, it is better to ask open-ended questions. No “yes / no” and generally questions that can be answered in one or two words. Open-ended questions require more words and thought.

What question should you always have at the ready? We all love challenges and difficulties, we love to talk about it. You need to ask about them. Everyone has difficulties and challenges. It encourages people to share their priorities in life at this moment.

Travel, compliments and advice

Travel is a favorite topic of many, everyone can tell something about it. And you can inspire people with pleasant feelings with sincere compliments.

But what prompts a deeper discussion? Professors in this case recommend asking for advice - this is a powerful way to arouse warm feelings in others for you.


Many people think that conversation is just an exchange of information. And they miss the most important thing: emotions. Talk with great enthusiasm, and then every conversation will be remembered.

The most important thing

The main rule that will dramatically increase the likelihood of you becoming a successful interlocutor: the main thing is not you, but them. The only goal to keep in mind is that after each conversation, your interlocutor should feel better after talking with you. wishes you to develop the ability to listen to others. And let your interlocutors feel better after your words.

Read also : 5 mistakes that even good employees make

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8 habits that will help convince everyone that you are a good listener


Can you listen to others without interrupting? Difficult, right? When there is a pause in the interlocutor's story, one is drawn to suggest to him a word that he has forgotten or has not yet come up with. There is something reflexively pleasant, fascinating, but at the same time, in relation to the person you are talking to, it is unnecessary, unrestrained and even impolite.

Finishing someone's thought, even with the best of intentions, we prevent the interlocutor from expressing a personal point of view. Even in the simplest of conversations, most people will appreciate being given time to continue or finish a thought. For the sake of practicing respect for one’s neighbor, psychologists recommend a basic method that helps to look like a good listener and is as follows: before inserting a word or helping the caller continue the story, take a breath - no, you don’t have to goggle your eyes and freeze with puffed out cheeks for a minute, just normal 2-3 second inhale and exhale.

Make no mistake, it works. My friend, who now lives in France, often pauses before speaking, mostly because her French leaves a lot to be desired. As a result, all new acquaintances tell her that she is an amazing listener - and this would greatly surprise her Russian friends. So take on a useful skill that contributes to a positive reputation: hold your tongue and breathe, imagining that this very language is not your native one. Give the interlocutor a moment of silence to find the right word and continue.

The ability to listen is one of the most important skills on the way to popularity, a successful career and leadership. In theory, many people know that this is good, but not everyone takes the time to learn how to be an attentive conversationalist. Especially when there are plenty of reasons to be distracted around - from the ubiquitous influx of information to social networks and intrusive signals from familiar gadgets.

And although all these distractions will not disappear overnight, it is possible to overcome them and learn to sincerely express your attention, for which your family, friends and colleagues will be sincerely grateful to you. Of course, body language is critical, but being a good listener requires a multi-step approach:

1. Listen with the intent to understand

This is a key ingredient. Listen to understand, not to analyze in the usual framework and issue a conclusion. We are all very different and perceive the world differently. It is far from always that the person who is talking to you expects an assessment or advice in response - sometimes it is important just to be heard.

2. Try not to interrupt

Allow the other person to say the whole point before interrupting with questions or a similar story that happened to you. Very often, someone else's monologue awakens thoughts, experiences or memories that we just want to voice. Keep in mind that intrusion into the other person's speech often sounds like: "hey, I know more than you" or, even worse, "too far to the point, I don't have time for this." If people feel that they are not heard, do not want to hear, or have not been heard, it will be difficult for them to establish a trusting relationship with you.

3. Repeat what you heard and ask questions

Just because there are two people in a conversation, it doesn't mean that both parties are hearing the same thing. Everyone brings their own weltanschauung (“view of the world” in German) into the conversation, which forms an understanding of what they hear. Feel free to repeat aloud the main points of the interlocutor's speech and ask if you correctly caught what he wanted to say. This approach is a great tool for showing genuine interest in the speaker and a real understanding of what he had in mind.

4. Don't be distracted

Learn to focus on one thing when someone is talking to you - the person who is talking. Many people think that in the age of omnipotent smartphones and accessible data, people are becoming more and more multitasking, but studies show that almost no one manages to do it well. We multitask not because we are good at it, but because we are used to being distracted. In other words, there are so many things going on around us that grab our attention that we are forced to do more than one thing at a time. And so the next time you're involved in a conversation, limit distractions. Hide your phone, turn off the music, turn off the TV, stop chipping nail polish - focus solely on who you are communicating with.

5. Remember to make eye contact

Ideally, no kidding, listen with your whole body. First, be sure to look at the person who is speaking. This will allow you to perceive not only words, but also emotions in facial expressions and gestures of the interlocutor. Second…

6. Lean in.

The best way to let the caller know you're listening. Moreover, this simple trick will enhance the effect of presence inside the dialogue, which means it will add energy to better perceive what you hear. The same technique will work if you are at an important meeting or lecture of a person who is especially important to you: stand or sit as close as possible, by an effort of will drown out the cacophony of thoughts tumbling in your brain - and listen, absorbing information with pleasure and attention.

7. Put yourself in his/her place

Being a good listener means being able to imagine yourself in the place of the interlocutor, imbued with what he/she feels, develop empathy for the speaker. No judgment, evaluation and stereotyped conclusions - otherwise it will be difficult for you to hear what a person wants to convey to you. Nothing to do with the practice of detachment and indifference - you learn to listen with an open heart, allowing yourself and others to make mistakes.

8. Let go of the need to be right

When you're trying to win an argument, you enter into the conversation by betting solely on winning. In this case, your interlocutor is wasting time, because you are convinced in advance only in your interpretation of reality. The science of listening is accompanied by a rejection of the need to be right. Switch from the "I'm always right" mode to the opportunity to accept an alternative point of view - this way the interlocutor's speech will be revealed in a completely different way, and you will enrich your knowledge (including in human psychology), which is much more useful than stubbornly repeating your own settings.

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