How to Listen (A Guide for Men by a Man)

It’s Movember, a month where we, as individuals in our patriarchal society, share thoughts and discussions about men’s health – in an effort to change the face of men’s health. And one of those things that us men seem to loathe talking about is our emotions and how we deal with them. Did you know that globally, per minute a man dies by suicide, and that in Canada 75% of suicides are by men? I took that stat from the Movember website, so it is probably credible. What we can assume is that a big reason why suicide is so common among men is because men are having all these pent up levels of stress, depression, and anxiety – leading to those men wanting to end it all. Traditionally, it is not cool for men to talk about their feelings, and that is something we should look to change.
This is a guide on how to listen to your fellow: man, bro, broheim, brother from another mother, bromeo, and lad. This is a guide for men, teaching men how to listen, written by a man.

The actual guide part

So I come home from a long day in class, and I wish to complain about this peer in my class that for some reason cannot read the assignment instructions and instead asks to copy my work. I live with other men, most of my friends are men, and I live a very manly life, so naturally I turn to (speaking with) men in order to get my release of stress.

However, I have one male friend who is a good dude, but is a bit of a know-it-all. Whenever I vent to him he is always trying to stop me from venting, and would much rather give me advice or instructions to go on about my life. Here’s the thing: for the most part, we are not complaining about anything really serious. We are complaining about bad coworkers, dumb people on the street, or a lack of something superficial. We (or I anyways) understand how to solve my problem, we just want to vent, so stop giving me advice. You don’t even have to pay attention to what I say, just nod and confirm that you’re there. I think we can all agree that talking to someone (or talking at someone) is a lot more helpful than talking at a wall.

I just need someone there to give me affirmation that they are acknowledging my struggle. What I don’t need is for my venting process to be interrupted by: advice, a long story, instructions, or someone making the situation about them. This is true also, for why you may feel as if your Significant Other, won’t tell you things. It’s because you don’t understand when it’s time to have a conversation, rather than when it’s time to shut up, listen, and be a friend.

I know for myself, sometimes a friend will vent at me and I will hear something that reminds me of a personal experience which I would like to share when my friend stops venting. So I end up holding onto that personal experience for until my friend has stopped venting so I can swoop in with my story. Again, this is you making it about yourself. When you’re more focused on telling your story, than listening to theirs, you’re not having a conversation, you just want to talk about yourself. When your friend is done he’ll probably sigh or he may finally lower his voice, and that’s when as a guy all you have to say is “Damn, that sucks” or “Ouu that’s shitty” or my personal favourite “That’s crazy”.

To recap…

Nod your head, be present, don’t try to butt in, it’s not about you, and respect what your friend has to say. You might read this thinking that it’s easy but I promise that some of you may find yourself fighting the urge to get a word in, over focusing on your friend. Respect that your friend has that level of respect for you that you’re the one he wishes to confide in, and give him a pat on the butt, letting him know that you’re there for him and everything will be copacetic.
While you’ve read this much, consider donating to Movember here and have a great month of changing men’s health.

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