Our volunteers are trained to help people with cancer and their loved ones. Their role is to provide information and listen actively, with attention, empathy and respect to the beneficiaries of the telephone peer matching service.
You have received a cancer diagnosis and your treatments have been completed for at least a year.
You have closely accompanied a person with cancer.
TRUE. The challenge of listening involves respecting the person whatever their life choices. Active listening consists in focusing on the person by letting go of our own presuppositions or values, by an empty slate approach. When confronted with ideas or values which do not match our own, if we find it impossible to temporarily ignore or set them aside, referring the person to someone who will be better able to respond to their needs would be a wise move.
FALSE. Those periods of silence are part of the communication and are important moments. Silence can be eloquent and does not arrive by chance. The person is, perhaps, preparing to reveal something important. We can let our presence be felt: “I’m here!,” “Are you alright?,” but without forcing the issue. Silence is often perceived or experienced as embarrassing. As a support person, being at ease with those periods of silence can be another challenge.
FALSE. Contrary to empathy, sympathy is an interior attitude through which we experience the same feelings as another person about the same situation but without detachment. Empathy consists in entering the other’s world and feelings, accepting the intensity of the emotion they are experiencing and stepping, for a moment, into their shoes without, however, being overwhelmed by it all.
FALSE. Knowing a person very well has not proven to be a necessary criterion for being a good listener. It is only necessary to be attentive to what they are sharing in the present moment. At times, it may even be more difficult to really listen to a person we know well because of the risk of becoming subjective and emotional.
FALSE. That does not respect his or her rhythm and may harm their willingness to open up. Perhaps they are about to reveal something important to us and by interrupting, we might upset them.
FALSE. Pitying someone reinforces their perception that they are a victim and may affect the situation negatively. We can be supportive and encouraging without showing pity. Pity shows the person that we don’t have confidence in their abilities, that we see their situation as hopeless.
FALSE. Believing this is wrong, since active listening has nothing to do with gender and is certainly not innate! Listening to someone who needs help is an art and can be learned. While we may have listening skills, we must develop them, regardless of gender.
TRUE. It is important to listen and to set our boundaries. If we do not, we risk fatigue and we are not entirely in sync with ourselves or with the other person. Respecting others begins with respecting ourselves. For example, if a friend phones you because she needs to be listened to and you have an appointment in 30 minutes, you should tell her you have 15 minutes to listen, and beyond that, you won’t be able to fully concentrate because you will be preoccupied by your plans.
FALSE. Naturally and in good faith, we often feel led to give advice thinking it will help; however, what is good for us will not necessarily be good for another person. Each person has his or her own potential and our role is to encourage the person to become aware of his or her own tools, to draw on his or her own baggage and previous experiences.
FALSE. Each individual has their own strengths and potential. The role of the listener is to assist the person to find solutions that suit them by mirroring to them their own emotions, by reformulating for them what they are trying to express while respecting their rhythm. However, in a moment of suicide crisis, we must be more directive and ensure that the person has all the necessary resources.