How Listening without Judgement Saves Lives

When someone you love is having a tough time, it’s natural to want to make them feel better, but according to Sophie Andrews, advice often isn’t what people truly need when they’re hurting.

Inher powerful TEDMED talk, Andrews shares her personal experience with the power of listeningwithout judgement.

The Power of Listening without Judgement

Andrews is CEO of Silver Line, a hotline aimed at fighting loneliness among seniors in the UK byconnecting callers with the services they need or simply offering a supportive, listening ear. But before her role at Silver Line, another helpline – the Samaritans – saved Andrews’ life.

She learned about the power of “listening without judgement” through her own calls to the Samaritans as a young survivor of sexual abuse and through hervolunteer and paidwork with them years later.

In her talk, Andrews explainswhy listening is so powerful, especially when we are going through something that’s stigmatized. When she was dealing with sexual abuse, that topic was taboo. Today, loneliness is one of the major health issues that we don’t like to talk about. We fight harmful stigmas by offering a sympathetic, non judgmental ear.

The Power of Listening without Judgement

What does loneliness have to do with crisis? A lot, according to Andrews. When we are lonely, we lack access to the compassionate listening we need to get through difficult times. Too many suggestionsor too muchadvice can make a person in crisis feel even less in control ofa situation that already feelsfrighteninglyout of control.

In her timewith the Samaritans and with Silver Line, she has witnessed listening’s profound power over and over. At Silver Line, she says, they’ll often take calls where the caller asks for advice, then starts talking. Aftera long call, they’ll thank the volunteer for the good advice, even though they didn’t give anything more than a sympathetic ear.

Just listening without giving advice is easier said than done, butso often, that’s whatpeople truly need. “Never ever underestimate the power of a simple human connection,”Andrews says at the end of her talk, “because it can be – and so often is – the power to save a life.”

Related at Care2

Image Credits: Featured image via screenshot from TEDMED, Power of Listening image via Thinkstock.


Richard B
Richard B3 days ago

thank you

silja salonen
silja s6 days ago

love without judgment. friendship without judgement. parenting without judgement. whoa nellie life would be spectacular if we all just took our inflated selves / egos out of the equation.

Janis K
Janis K11 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

Past Member
Past Member 16 days ago


Richard B
Richard B20 days ago


Jessica K
Jessica K21 days ago

The impulse to fix others may come from a place of good intentions but I have seen it generally coming off as patronizing, as though the person who supposedly needs 'fixing' is too incompetent to discover his/her solutions and needs to be 'saved'. Thanks.

Margie FOURIE24 days ago


Jenny G
Jenny G27 days ago

Never, ever underestimate the power of a simple human connection!

Angela J
Angela Jabout a month ago


Greta L
Greta Labout a month ago

Thanks for this