“Everybody needs somebody to love” (beware of the click — might get your jive muscles hurting!) … well and good enough to have people in your life to love and laugh with. But when the dark clouds loom overhead, and the rain starts pouring, or perhaps the rain has been pouring for an age till the flood’s up to neck level now, and your friend’s just treading water to survive, having never learnt to float in the sea of love, that’s sometimes still and sometimes stormy … I’ve learnt that I’ve got to learn how to listen then. And listen well. Fishing and ferreting won’t do — that’s just treating the person like a problem to be solved. So I really appreciate these (sometimes piercing!) words of wisdom from the Samaritans by way of the Prisoners’ Friends’ Association, of all people:
You are NOT listening to me when:
- You do not care about me.
- You say you understand before you know me well enough.
- You have an answer for my problem before I’ve finished telling you what my problem is.
- You cut me off before I’ve finished speaking. [T.F.T. says: Convicted!]
- You finish my sentences for me. [T.F.T. says: Convicted!]
- You feel critical of my vocabulary, grammar or accent. [T.F.T. says: 2.5 years in HK has cured me of this sort of arrogance — I hope!]
- You are dying to tell me something. [T.F.T. says: Convicted!]
- You tell me about your experience making mine seem unimportant.
- You are communicating to someone else in the room. [T.F.T. says: What if I’m frantically asking God for help?! But point taken.]
- You refuse my thanks by saying you really haven’t done anything. [T.F.T. says: I guess this is something validation … but I don’t really get it.]
You ARE listening to me when:
- You come quietly into my private world and let me be me.
- You really try to understand me even if I’m not making much sense.
- You grasp my point even when it’s against your own sincere convictions.
- You realise that the hour I took from you has left you a bit tired and drained.
- You allow me the dignity of making my own decisions even though you think they might be wrong.
- You do not take my problem from me, but allow me to deal with it in my own way.
- You hold back your desire to give me good advice.
- You do not offer me religious solace when you sense I am not ready for it.
- You give me enough room to discover for myself what is really going on.
- Accept my gift of gratitude by telling me how good it makes you feel to know that you have been helpful.