Janet Rieu-Clarke is the Accredited Paralegal member of our Professional Practice team.

Those of you who know me well, can probably confirm that I love a good blether…especially if you add a cup of tea and cake.  So last Thursday on National Time to Talk Day, I made sure that I took the time to chat with at least two of my colleagues over a cup of tea – with no other reason than to check in and remind them that I’m there.

Why did I do this? Well why not? It took a whole 20 minutes out of my day and left me feeling better about myself and, I hope, my colleagues also felt better for having someone show an interest and give them an opportunity to download. But it made me think… why do we need a ‘National Day’ to prompt us to do something we should be doing every day if we can!  And it’s important that when we say, “Hi, how are you“, we actually stop to listen to the answer. It is just as important to listen as it is to talk.

I recently had a conversation with a colleague / friend? about constructive listening skills, as conversation is the surest way to find out what people are thinking and feeling. When we consider our personal and professional development and draw up our annual training plans, listening is a key skill which is often overlooked. When was the last time you stopped and thought about how you listen? For me, I realised that on occasion (usually when listening to my husband) I am guilty of selective listening, where I tune in to the parts of the conversation which affect me.

Of course, we can’t all be 100% focused 100% of the time, but if we are going to take the time to talk with someone in the first place, then we should also take the time to listen.  To be a good listener you need to be an attentive or empathetic listener –which takes a little bit of extra time and effort, but it will be worth it. Focus fully on what is being said, be understanding but most of all be present in the moment!

Try not to be distracted by the draft around your desk or whether you responded to that email. Tune in to the person you are listening to - sometimes it is not what is said but how it is said that shows you how someone is really feeling.

We are all busy, we all lead demanding lives and we are all trying to reach that optimum work life balance but alongside this, we need to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health and if we all make a conscious effort to support our colleagues, we can really make a difference.

Time to Talk is a campaign which was started in 2014 by the Time to Change social movement, a group that wanted to change the way we all think and act about Mental Health. 


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