Those of you who know me probably know that I like to talk…a lot. It’s something I can’t really help. I just like to talk. Many times I’m actually asked if I ‘ever stop talking’ or I’ve had multiple people playfully tease me about it. Though truthfully, it hurts. (I was once asked by my best friends mother if I was sick because I wasn’t talking very much.)
Okay, So I’ve made my point… I like to talk.
Recently, I was asked by a friend, during a little disagreement we were having, if I ever actually listened to anyone or if I just kept on talking and didn’t care at all.
That really hit home for me. Those words stung. Was I actually that ignorant? Could I not be quiet for a few minutes while a friend came to me for help?
Over those next couple days I became really self conscious…and I became flat out paranoid when a friend of mine came over a few days later and wanted to talk to me about something that she is going through. The entire time she was talking I was scared to talk! I was downright scared! I couldn’t say a word. All I could do was something like this:
Nod, frown and the occasional ‘Oh…’ was able to escape my lips. That. Was. It.
I know you’re probably thinking. “Well this is good right? You learned your lesson, problem solved, right?”
Ummmm. No. Not problem solved…because I still wasn’t ‘listening’ per say. So no lesson learned there.
Progress of Lesson Learned is a total of 0%
It wasn’t until a few weeks later, when I got together with that same friend, I told her that I was really worried about what I was going to say about what she was telling me and that I was afraid that I would upset her in some way…My friend then told me that, even though I liked to talk a lot, I listen when it counts and she really appreciated it.
You’re probably wondering what my point is here so let me explain a little.
Sometimes the only thing you can really do for a friend is listen…and I mean really listen. Even though your friend is going through a really hard time and all you want to do is talk to them about anything but the situation to help them feel better.
Sometimes that isn’t the right approach. (It was always one I leaned towards) Sometimes the best you can do is sit down with your friend, on their own accord, (though sometimes it might take some persistence from you to actually get that friend to meet up) and just listen…maybe even give them a hug or cry with them…or whatever.
Seriously though, listening is probably the best thing you could do for a person. It shows that you care.
You don’t have to come up with an answer for everything all the time. Sometimes all you have to do is sit down and really listen to what this person is saying… It’s also okay to ask if there is something your friend needs too. Don’t think that the only solution is to just sit there then leave. I’m not saying that.
As well as listening you also need to ask if there is anything that person needs. They might say that there is nothing or they might ask you to do something for them to help…but either way. One of the best things you can do for a person is just, be there and be ready to listen.
Once you set yourself up for that and are ready to listen and just be there for someone you will find that you might be helping a lot more than you might have before by just talking about anything but the problem at hand. (Though sometimes a distraction from the ‘bad stuff’ could be what your friend want too.)
Also, another thing I learned during this experience is that sometimes, depending on the situation, all your friend wants is for you to act like nothing is wrong. That’s where talking about anything but the situation fits in perfectly but my advice is this:
Don’t just default to talking. Automatically default to listening and simply being there. That’s it.
What do you automatically default to in this type of situation? When you are the person going through hard times which do you prefer? To have your friends listen? Or distract you?
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11