Would You Just Listen?

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Have you ever been really upset about something and just wanted to vent to someone? But then instead of just listening, they start offering advice, another point of view, or a way to see the bright side. They don’t seem to understand that that is NOT what you need from them right then. You just need them to listen. I am guilty. I admit I commonly step into the role of offering advice or trying to point out the positive. However, there have been times when I was the person who just wanted to be heard, so I do get it. When we are in the midst of the emotional drama, we do not want to reason or analyze. We just want to express ourselves and know that someone cares.

The other night my eight-year-old daughter couldn’t get to sleep. Earlier, when I had tucked her in, I had been on the phone for a teleconference so I hadn’t done our normal rituals at bedtime. I came to realize this was unsatisfactory as she was crying and telling me how I never spend time with her and how it feels like I don’t love her as much as I love my business. What?!? My instant reaction was to defend myself – to tell her that she gets more of my attention and more opportunities to do things since I have the flexibility of having my own business! That’s when a little voice in my head reminded me – she just wants to be heard and to know that I care how she feels. Somehow I managed to fight back the instinct to argue and carefully listened and nodded. It wasn’t easy! But it definitely made her feel better and actually I felt better too.

The next time you are about to offer advice or point out another perspective to someone who is venting to you, ask yourself – “What do they really need from me right now? Do they just want to me to listen?”

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