Sometimes all the other person needs is a sympathetic ear. I found myself reminding me of this fact this past weekend. I have a family member going through a tough time and spent some time for a visit. It’s very hard to remain positive and upbeat when someone I love is struggling. In fact, it’s hard to say anything positive for fear of it coming across as “Look how good things are for me.”
More than once I had to remember “This is not about me” and the second most important lesson “Just listen. Don’t offer advice, don’t try to solve problems. Just listen.”
This last bit I learned from Donna several years ago. We work at the same company and often times she has a more negative opinion of her day than I do. That’s not to say her job is worse, just that she likes to “share” the bad things that happen. As a man, I want to go with my natural instinct and try and give her advice and solve the problem. Finally she said “Don’t try solving my problems, just listen.” That’s very difficult for me. “Why are you telling me this if you don’t want me to say anything?” I asked. “I just need someone to talk to.”, she responded. The wisdom-wallet got another deposit that day.
Now I find myself in that same situation with a sibling having a very tough time personally. Sure, we did plenty of other things like shopping, playing Wii, watching movies with the family, and playing games. Then one night we were up late. I was tired, and when I’m tired, little things can get on my nerves quickly. Being talked to about problems is not one of my favorites, but I remembered “Just listen.” This afternoon I got a call, but wasn’t able to take it in time. The message said “Thanks for listening. It really meant a lot. I feel recharged and ready to take on the challenges in front of me.”
So if you find yourself in a similar situation… remember, just listen.