Don't Just Listen
Have you ever left a conversation that made you feel like the other person wasn't listening? I know I have. During countless conversations, I've dealt with individuals dominating the conversation by constantly interrupting me and inserting their opinions or thoughts? After conversations like this, I find myself disregarding what they’ve said--not because I don't value what they had to say, but because their advice wasn't really helpful due to them interrupting my thoughts; which means they never really grasped an understanding of what I was trying to express. These types of conversations tend to leave me feeling worse than before I shared because the person I trusted at that moment seemed to care less about hearing my heart and more about giving their advice.
I understand it's natural to want to give advice or share our thoughts when people talk to us. Trust me! I may have been on the receiving end of these types of conversations more than I'd like, but the truth is, I've also been guilty of dominating conversations and thinking I needed to fix someone or their situation. Thankfully, I've learned that sometimes less is more. When people are open with me, I try not to immediately react by sharing what’s on my mind or giving the advice I think is needed to help them out. Some people talk to me(us) because they simply want to be heard. If you really want to help those around you and desire to be someone people feel comfortable talking to…listen more. Let them feel your unspoken love by hearing them. That may be all they need; trust me, it’s a wonderful feeling when you know you’ve been heard.
I have an experience that I want to share with you all.
When we first moved to Texas, I crossed paths with a lady working in a local vet that I’d eventually need to take my little Yorkie to for routine care. The lady was always very kind and a pleasure to see. One day, I went to the vet to ask a question and of course, she was working the front desk. She was busier than the previous days that I’d come in and seemed a little…different. When it was my turn to be waited on, I immediately asked her how she was doing. Side note-before I continue, one truth about me is that, if I ask—I will wait for you to answer because I truly want to know. I’m not your cliché “How ya doing?” person in passing. I ask because I care and yes, that means even with strangers. You’d be amazed at how some people respond when they realize you really care to hear what they have to say. I’ve had your typical "I’m doing ok" or "I’ve seen better days" to people pouring their hearts out to me, which is exactly what happened this particular day—after asking her how she was doing, she looked at me and we locked eyes…she waited a moment, then she took a deep breath and said, “I’m not ok.” She continues sharing intimate details about her life and about the difficult situation she was currently facing. As she shared, I didn’t feel led to do anything other than listening. So that’s what I did. I stood there in silence as she shared and I listened. I had only seen her on maybe three other occasions in which we only said, “hi” and “goodbye”, so you all can imagine my surprise as she shared very intimate details about her life with me. She even paused one time to say, “I don’t normally just share my business like this.”, then she proceeded to share more and more. As she expressed her pain and frustration, the tears that were once flowing had stopped, the weight of worry didn’t seem so heavy, and there was a lightness about her that wasn’t there before she started sharing. After she was done pouring her heart out…she took another deep breath and smiled. Her next words were, “Wow! I needed that!”. I smiled back at her and told her thanks for sharing with me and that I would be praying for her. She then says, “Many people say that, but I believe you. It is something special about you. Every time you’ve come in here there’s been a light that follows you and joy with that beautiful smile. It makes me want to smile and I’m always so happy when you come through those doors!”. I remember those exact words because I wrote them down as soon as I left that day. Not as a boastful reminder, but because it was encouraging to my heart to hear such kind words spoken about me by someone that didn’t even know me, but could feel something about me simply because I was being my true self…someone that cared to ask a simple question. What she felt about me made her comfortable enough to openly share her life with me at that moment. But, the biggest blessing of all that day was something else I wrote down that she said, “Thank you for listening and allowing me to share. It’s not often that someone really takes the time to ask how I’m doing and care to sit or in your case stand and really listen. So, thank you. Thank you so much.” I smiled, handed her a tissue to wipe her tears away that started to flow again, and whispered, "You're welcome."
You see, being intentional about listening is important. A lot of us automatically think that when people vent to us that it’s our job to fix them or the situation. Well, guess what! It’s not! Sure helping people through difficult situations with advice has its place, but I’ve learned in life that the best thing you can be for someone is...there. Simply be there. And don’t just listen, hear them. You never know how freeing it may be for someone to know that they have someone in their lives willing to listen when they need to be heard.
Final Thoughts and Encouragement
I want to leave you all with a nugget from the book of James.
"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry."
This verse alone is self-control-packed! Being “quick to listen" simply means fighting the urge to speak before knowing everything the person you are talking to is going to say. “Slow to speak” means controlling the need to share whatever comes to your mind. And the last part goes hand in hand with what I shared in my podcast Responding vs Reacting; it was a reminder that we have control over what we do and say. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to check it out.
Thank you guys for listening. Follow me on IG @sonyakay_m to keep up with me in between my blogs or check out my group Encouragement for Daily Living with Sonya Kay on FB. Again, thank you all for supporting me! Blessings to you all!!! Take Care!