A friend to listen
I think one of the the most important things we can do for each other is to listen. To be at the other end of the line, or the other side of the table and hear someone out. In my experience the best people for this are my women friends. As my friend Joanne said last night, "That's why we have them."
When we listen to each other we give grace.
Sometimes maybe a little mercy too.
I am always amazed at how good it feels to talk something out with a good friend. There is a weight that gets lifted off your chest. And it is not because they see your side of things. Often they point out what you are not seeing yourself. It is just good to have another little soul like yourself to share your story with.
On the other side of that is being the listener. To be there to hear the whole story, to hear it maybe twice or even three times. To be there not waiting to speak, not wanting to give advice, just to listen. For mostly we know our own answers , we just need to be heard.
When you have a story to tell it is amazing how long five uninterrupted minutes are. To talk steadily for five minutes allows you to say a lot if you really want to. Sometimes the idea of talking for five minutes about something can be daunting. So really hearing someone out often only takes that, a few minutes of quiet.
I have a mind that drifts so when someone wants to tell me a story I have to be actively pay attention. I have to keep my focus so I can know the full story. I remember being in counselling school and learning about active listening. It revolutionized listening for me. Once I could think of listening as something engaged, encouraging and active, then I could do better. I could listen better.
It is really interesting sometimes when I am talking and I can feel that someone is not listening. You can feel it. I just let the conversation go. I always feel slightly cheated for a second or two and then I recover. We know intuitively when we are being listened to. Sometimes we see it in our interactions with others after the fact. They understand us better. Our relationships get stronger.
Sometimes people have told me a story that helps me understand them so much more. Five minutes of listening can deepen a relationship. I suppose sometimes five minutes of listening can weaken one too. Though in my experience listening to someones' story, or having them listen to mine, brings us closer to understanding each other and makes us care more.
Five minutes. If I tried to talk right now for five minutes it would be hard to fill, but when we have a story that we need to share, it is just what we need. Last night when I jumped in the car with Joanne I needed to talk. I did not even know I did before I got in. Sometimes you find that you just need to process your day and it's lovely to have a friend there to listen.
- Deanne Fitzpatrick