“All people want is for someone to listen.” (Hugh Elliott) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.
The title to today’s post is the title of one of the most popular of Christmas songs. Unfortunately most of us don’t take the time to “hear” the most important things of all – what other people are saying to us. That can be especially true when those people are in need and trying to reach out for help. Sometimes, as Hugh Elliott said, all they need or want is for someone to listen to them. In our society today we are far too distracted by other things to really listen or perhaps far too focused on what we want to say next to pay attention to the person speaking to us.
I’ve posted here in the past about being a good listener as a part of being a good friend or helper. Being a good listener takes focus and a selfless commitment understanding what the other person is trying to say. Many times you might pick up as much content from the body language and timbre of the speakers voice as from the words themselves. Many people have trouble finding the right words to get across what they are trying to express, but the fears and concern or maybe the pain that is driving the conversation will come through if you just listen. You might also be able to pick up on the level of guardedness that the person is using, which may be an indication that you are not yet truly a trusted adviser. That should cue you to try to build that trust.
Sometimes just “lending an ear” is all that is needed. Maybe the person just needed to “get it off my chest”. Having someone to sit and listen to their story can be cathartic for the speaker. Sometimes they will actually work things out right there in front of you while they are speaking. The opportunity to verbalize their issue to someone else helps clarify it for them, too. Sometimes they might just need someone to say, “It’ll be alright” or “you’ll make it through this.” Maybe your time and attention is all that they needed to reassure themselves.
Sometimes you may actually have to act as a counselor or guide to help them see a way out of the situation or at least sew where they can go to get further help. You can’t be as helpful if you aren’t listening and paying close attention to the details. Maybe you feel like you have enough problems of your own and don’t need or have time to take on the problem of others. What a sad world of lonely, troubled people we would live in if that were the case. We’re all in this thing called life together and all of us will eventually hit issues or problems that exceed our ability to deal with them by ourselves. The time you spend listening too and helping other is just paying back or paying forward for the help that you will need and receive some day.
The Holiday season can be especially difficult for people who may be undergoing hardship or loneliness. So, beyond listening to the music and carols of the season, listen for those who just need someone to hear what they have to say. The gift of your time and attention to those people may be the best gift that you give this Christmas.
Do you hear what I hear? Listen.