Best listeners ever, dogs...and they don't give advice. With dogs, you get to finish everything you want to say without being interrupted...well except to throw a bone. Great listeners, dogs are. We hoomans can be good listeners too.
I heard this story of a woman who was restricted from speaking for a couple of days due to a medical procedure on her vocal cords. She was in her kitchen when a neighborhood girl stopped by and started talking about her terrible day. Not being able to respond verbally, the woman stayed engaged through eye contact, nodding her head, and encouraging hand gestures. The girl ends up talking for a couple of hours! As the girl leaves, she tells the woman she never felt so understood and their talk made her day. The woman was astonished because she hadn't said one word...in fact, the girl hadn't even seem to notice.
We can "hear" better when we don't speak, when we aren't preparing our answers and not giving advice.
We can help people more by listening openly without judgement and with empathy.
When people feel heard, they are more apt to solve their own problems and feel empowered to solve future problems. Don't rob someone from a learning moment.
The next time someone comes to you and starts talking about their troubles, pretend your vocal cords are frozen or that you are a dog. See how much you can get them to talk without using your voice to comment or advise...just be present in the moment and stay engaged.
Let me know how the transformation goes!
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