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.

In her powerful TEDMED talk, Andrews shares her personal experience with the power of listening without judgement.

The Power of Listening without Judgement

Andrews is CEO of Silver Line, a hotline aimed at fighting loneliness among seniors in the UK by connecting 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 her volunteer and paid work with them years later.

In her talk, Andrews explains why 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 suggestions or too much advice can make a person in crisis feel even less in control of a situation that already feels frighteningly out of control.

In her time with 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. After a 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, but so often, that’s what people 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.


Lorrie O
Lorrie O1 months ago

Big Brother is watching, yes, (and this is Great, because it means that I don't have to be watching), yet Mother Ear(th) is listening.

Val P
Val P2 months ago


Lesa D
Past Member 4 months ago

thank you Becky...

Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

thanks for sharing

Past Member
Past Member 6 months ago


Cindy S
Cindy Smith7 months ago


Vincent T
Past Member 7 months ago


Richard B
Richard B8 months ago

thank you

silja salonen
silja salonen8 months 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 K8 months ago

Thanks for sharing.