One of my friends participates in a program as a mentor to moms. She gave me one of the handouts from the training sessions she attended prior to beginning her volunteering. Its author is unknown and it’s easy to find on the Internet. It’s about listening, something most of us can stand to do better at.

As a male who read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus many years ago, a book I learned a lot from, but still haven’t fully applied to my life, I know I am a fairly typical male when it comes to listening. One of the key examples about the difference between the way men and women communicate, per the Men are From Mars Wikipedia entry, “is men’s complaint that if they offer solutions to problems that women bring up in conversation, the women are not necessarily interested in solving those problems, but mainly want to talk about them.”

The piece handed out by the Mentoring Moms organization hits right on that issue…

When I ask you to listen to me                                           
and you start giving me advice,
you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why
I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something
to solve my problem,
you have failed me,
strange as that may seem.

Listen! All I ask is that you listen.
Don’t talk or do – just hear me.

I can do for myself; I am not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering,
but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and
inadequacy.

But when you accept as a simple fact
that I feel what I feel,
no matter how irrational,
then I can stop trying to convince
you and get about this business
of understanding what’s behind
this irrational feeling.

And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious and I don’t need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense when
we understand what’s behind them.

So please listen, and just hear me.
And if you want to talk, wait a minute
for your turn – and I will listen to you.

What are some of the ways you can be a better listener? Join the conversation with your comments…

Best regards,

David

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