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7 ways to be a better listener

If a friend has ever approached you with a personal problem, you know it can sometimes be tough to find the right words.

What do you say if you don't have a solution? What if you have no experience with the problem at hand? What if you say the wrong thing?

But experts say don't get ahead of yourself – you don't need to be a expert to be an expert listener.

That's according to a new initiative from Rogers In Health and the Wisconsin Initiative for Stigma Elimination, or WISE.

The Safe Person program – published online at – outlines seven "promises" you can pledge to uphold in conversations about mental health or anytime someone approaches you with a personal issue.  At that website, you can review the promises, then order a decal to display, showing those in your life you're there to listen.

Here are the seven promises:

  1. Acknowledge that reaching out for support is a strength.
  2. Listen and react non-judgmentally.
  3. Respond in a calm and reassuring manner.
  4. Reflect back the feelings, strengths, ideas I hear when listening.
  5. Ask how I can be helpful and respond as I’m able.
  6. Do what I can to connect to other supports if asked.
  7. Maintain confidentiality and communicate if exceptions exist.

The Safe Person program is currently being implemented around the state, with special attention given to area high schools where teens are receiving special training.

Click the player below to hear from two Sussex Hamilton High School students who took the pledge to be "safe persons."

Director of Digital Content | Radio Milwaukee