Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shut up and listen ...

Listen and Silent are synonymous. Jumble up the words and you get the same back. And I wonder why it is such a hard thing for some people to do.

When someone tells you their problem, you listen. You listen and you keep silent. You let the other person talk and unload, and you give all your ears. You don't add in your own story to tell. That's call sharing. You don't give advice when it's not asked for. That's call counseling. You don't tell that person to take it easy. In the first place it's not. Don't switch to a big sister or a superior person role or I've-been-there-done-that-gone-thru-hell mode. If you need to switch into anything, just switch into this person who says, "I'm here, it's alright. Let it all out."

There is a world of difference in how you may help a person in distress. Sometimes listening helps a lot more than you know. Sometimes a problem doesn't need your solving it. Sometimes giving our fullest attention is the most precious gift we can offer anyone.

A proper venting deserves a proper outlet. Better you than me destructing stuff. Maybe that's why it's better to talk to strangers who know next to nothing about you because they can't do much except lend a sympathetic ear. Maybe too that's why people pay a lot of money to have psychiatrists listen to their problem.

Here's the thing: I spent my entire life playing the listener. As a matter of fact, a few minutes ago I was trying to bemoan a distressing issue and to unload my ache to a friend, but I ended up listening to her recounting her experience on the matter. For every sentence I uttered, she gave a sentence back recalling, relating. At one point, she spoke more than me and at which point I gave up, a little annoyed and disappointed. Isn't it my turn to talk, I asked myself silently, repeatedly?

Well I am far from perfect or even good. In fact, listening is exhausting business. Sometimes, I wish I could say something wise or intelligent, but it would only work if it were needed. Sometimes I was tempted to give my two cents worth of advice, but I wondered if I'm even the authority on the subject matter. Oh I tried those before and it had unsatisfying results. In which case, I have learned to simply pay attention and besides, it's rude to interrupt.

And I thought, at a moment like this, who can I really talk to, not talk with? Come to think of it, I rarely found someone who would actually be that person I am to other people. They are so few and far between and I lost most of them along the way to geography, marriage, irrelevance, or simply bad truce. The only person I am sure will listen to me unwaveringly at this point would be my mother, in fact contrary to popular belief, a parent is the best listener a person could ever have, but there are just some things one doesn't talk about with one's mother, or father.

If ever you want to be a real helpful friend, just shush and listen, will you? Even an enemy listens more if only to find your missteps.

You see why a blog is such a blessing in disguise. You read and listened, didn't you?

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