What I Learned When I Didn’t Listen

“Sometimes being listened to is so much like being loved, it is impossible to tell the difference.” – Barbara Pine

Meditations in Motion

I have been taking some food to a sick friend lately. She is on a soft food diet, so I researched and made a list of foods that are allowed. Once a week, I pack up some soup or homemade applesauce or muffins with no berries (seeds are a no-no) and make a delivery.

Last week when I brought the food to her house, her husband met me in the driveway and we chatted. In a rare moment of candor, he admitted to me how much he was struggling to keep up with everything – the housework, yard work, providing meals, and taking care of my sick friend.

I immediately went home and told the story to my hubby. “Maybe we could volunteer to do some of his yard work,” I said. “Please text him and make the offer.

Our offer to do yardwork was declined by our friend. “Thanks,” he said, “I just needed to vent.

How many times have I felt the need to fix something for a loved one when really, they just need to be listened to? I must learn to listen.

Meditations in Motion

I am ashamed to admit there have been times when someone is talking to me and I pretend to listen. I appear to be engaged but I am actually making a shopping list in my head, or trying to remember the lyrics to “Black Dog” by Led Zepplin, rather than paying attention to their words.

I want to learn to get out of my own frame of reference more often, to be empathetic when someone is speaking to me, to hear with my heart.

First, I need to tamp down my own ego long enough so I can ignore it when it whispers “But, me! What about me? Pay attention to me!

I should stop formulating a response while my conversation partner is still talking, to sometimes accept the pauses and the stillness of silence.

Meditations in MotionTo truly listen is to stop narrating my own life and see things from someone else’s perspective. I must learn to put my own agenda aside long enough to focus on another’s point of view.

Being heard boosts our mood and improves our self-confidence. It makes us feel supported and loved. Our comfort level increases when we are listened to.

Being a good listener is a skill I must practice, As my mother used to say “There’s a reason you have two ears and only one mouth.”

 

I am linking with Welcome Heart for Let’s Have Coffee, Debbie at Dare 2 Hear Amy at Live Life Well, Raisie Bay for Word of the Week, Susan B Mead for Dancing With Jesus, Embracing the Unexpected for Grace and Truth, Random-osity for Little Things Thursdays, Reflections From Me for A Blogging Good Time, Knit by God’s Hand for Thankful Thursdays, Morgan’s Milieu for Post, Comment, Love, Counting My Blessings for Faith ‘n Friends, and Worth Beyond Rubies.

Please click on the following link to read more funny or inspirational one-liners. One-Liner Wednesday.

Meditations in Motion

 

 

 

 

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90 comments

  1. Your Mother was a wise woman! I know that when I share with others, I more often than not just need to get something off my chest. my pet peeve is when people come right back and offer up solution after solution when I have not solicited one iota of advice, ha ha.

    Our minds tend to wander all the time but as you say, we can pull it back, and come back into the present for those who need an ear! It’s like exceeding s muscle – we have to keep working at it to see improvement 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s true, Laurie, there’s a reason we have two ears and one mouth! Listening is a skill that more of us need to learn again. Thanks so much for this reminder. Many blessings to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So true, and beautifully expressed, Laurie … I am often guilty of listening to myself, and formulating my response, even as the other person talks. And when I do consciously desist from this and allow the other to fully express, it is invariably beneficial. Not just to them, but to me also! #ABitOfEverything

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I must admit, there are times I too will get distracted or feel I have a solution for them and want to share it, that I may miss another part of what they are really saying. It’s hard for me because I work for a crisis chat line and I’m used to people coming to ask for a solution, wanting you to tell them something. So then in my in person interactions, I have to remind myself it’s not the same…just listen until they say, what do you think. #worthbeyondrubies

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  5. I likely would’ve responded in the same way you did, wanting to offer to help as a response. I think it’s not always a matter of us not listening well enough but not knowing any other way to respond? They say most people have too much pride to ask for help so I would’ve taken his “venting” to think he was indirectly asking for help. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the fact that you tried to offer help.

    That said, this – I should stop formulating a response while my conversation partner is still talking, to sometimes accept the pauses and the stillness of silence. – is something I’ve struggled with all of my life and only in recent years have improved slightly. Good conversation excites me and I’m often quick to reply to keep it going and have to remember to try to pause at times before responding. We’re a work in progress!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My friend actually has Stage IV breast cancer and was recently hospitalized. Her hubby has a lot on his shoulders. I take food once a week, but I would happily do more.

      I am working on becoming a better listener. As you said, we are a work in progress!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I am guilty of being in two places at one time with my mind too Laurie. The trend is using buzzwords like “engaged” … I’m not always engaged either, but your heart was good. You heard what your friend’s husband said and I don’t see a problem with you suggesting Bill offer for you two to volunteer some yard work help. I don’t think your friend was venting – I think he was overwhelmed as you are when taking care of a loved one. Then in retrospect he probably thought that you thought he was hinting for more help since you were already helping with some meals. I think he was embarrassed for showing you his vulnerability. I bet he would like you and Bill to help – do it when he is not there or is he on a leave of absence to take care of his wife?

    Liked by 2 people

    • He works from home os he is there to take care of his wife. I would feel bad doing it when he said not to. I will just keep making and taking them food. I don’t want him to think that I think his yard needs attention. It’s a tricky situation!

      Liked by 1 person

      • OK, that’s good he works from home – likely he is a little concerned to be outside and leave his wife alone. When my mom had all the dizzy problems and before she confined herself to bed because of it, I was worried to be away from the house for too long – working outside I could just pop in the house on the guise of asking a question, getting a cold drink, a snack, but having to go out of the house to go grocery shopping or other errands, had me very worried. He might be the same. You are right that it would be wrong to go behind his back and yes, that’s a delicate situation -we want to do the right thing but so many variables in doing so sometimes. Just keep doing the nice thing and bringing meals as it is very appreciated I’m sure. My neighbor had pancreatic cancer and his son moved back to Michigan (in his last year of law school at Case Western U) to take care of Nick. Nick was in very bad shape the same time as my mom had her hip revision (May of 1990) and I was off work on a LOA to take care of her. Nick’s had son worked every Summer at a resort in Traverse City, Michigan as a prep chef. He could have gone into that line of work as he loved to cook and was an excellent cook. He cooked a big dinner every day and sent us over meals – my mom would have starved with my cooking skills –
        I mean I can cook, but it’s nothing special.
        Most of the time, his dad could not eat anyway as he had no appetite and was just withering away, but he would cook for the four of us anyway. His lasagna was to die for. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • That was so kind of Nick. I think I am going to make lasagna for my friend next week. She also likes my baked oatmeal, so I will make a pan of that to bring along and some homemade applesauce. She needs to eat only soft things right now.

        Do you live near Traverse City? I am not sure I know the geography of Michigan very well. I ran the marathon there and loved the area!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, Nick was a wonderful cook – he worked in the resort in high school too I believe – he had a friend who got him in and he stayed there the entire Summer. Lasagna would be easy for your friend to eat as well as the homemade applesauce. My mom used to make homemade applesauce – the neighbor across the street that I mentioned the other day with the dementia … she and her husband planted a tree for each of their children when they were born. Three maple trees out front of the house and an apple tree in the back. It yielded many apples and she brought them over by the brown grocery bag full. The ones with little holes they would collect from the ground or when screening them, I gave to a former boss whose wife had a horse (he had a race car – street stock racing and she had a horse). We had a lot of applesauce. I’ve never had baked oatmeal – I have oatmeal for breakfast every morning.

        No, I’m not near Traverse City – it is a four-hour drive (270 miles) from me. But I’ve been there about 20 years ago. Was your marathon in conjunction with the Traverse City Cherry Festival held around the 4th of July holiday?

        Liked by 1 person

      • The baked oatmeal is actually my son’s recipe. I used to love it but can’t eat it anymore since I had to eliminate sugar.

        The marathon was over Memorial Day weekend. I think it was about 5 or 6 years ago that we did it. It’s a beautiful area. We did drive around and visited some orchards while we were there. We also drove north along the bay, another beautiful area.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The baked oatmeal sounds good, like eating an oatmeal cookie. Hope eliminating the sugar is going well for you. I can look at nutrition labels until I am blue in the face and still find it difficult to get to the recommended carbs, sodium and sugar. Just sprinkling some raisins into my morning oatmeal is a big chunk of the recommended 25 g of sugar per day for an adult woman. I gave up bread (reluctantly) and have switched to the Triscuits with sea salt – 50 mg sodium for six of them. Problem is, six may be a serving, but I’m still hungry, so have another serving. It’s quite frustrating.

        Traverse City and the bay area is very beautiful. It is a resort area that is very busy in the Summer. I was there in the Fall and not busy at all. Traverse City just got an honor this week: Traverse City was ranked the best lakeshore beach town in the country.
        https://wwjnewsradio.radio.com/articles/4-michigan-towns-make-list-best-beach-towns-live

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am doing well at eliminating sugar, but every once in a while I cheat. A friend came over for dinner a few weeks ago and she brought a delicious lemon dessert. I ate some. Last night we had other friends over and we ate dinner on the deck. Sour cherries are in season here and I wanted to make a sour cherry pie, but I didn’t want a lot left over. I made a small pie and gave everyone else big slices, while I ate a tiny one. I guess cheating once every two weeks isn’t too bad. Eating well is difficult!

        I loved Traverse City and the whole bay area. I would love to go back sometime. Of course, it was too cold to go to the beach when we were there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I used to have a real sweet tooth Laurie – my mom would bake but she did not have a sweet tooth, so guess who ended up eating it? I probably said that in my post about the Christmas cookies. But I was much younger in my mom’s “baking hey day” and burned it off. I hate that our metabolism slows down when you get older. I used to love the “Mary Tyler Moore” TV show back in the day. Loved the characters too and if you watched it, do you remember Valerie Harper’s character Rhoda Morganstern? She always struggled with her weight and bemoaned it while Mary Richards was so skinny. She had the funniest line one time about taking a piece of chocolate and said “I might as well just take this and apply it directly to my hips!” I quit eating sweets for years, just resumed again late last year. But the real shame is that it is every day food with all its sugar … I think in moderation you’ll be fine and not have to go on the medication that your doctor suggested and you wrote about in your post. I watched my mom on her many, many meds through the years … I vowed unless I was very sick, I’d try to go as long as possible with just a multiple vitamin – I hope I can succeed with that. Our sour cherries should be in season soon – I forgot to look yesterday when I was at the store late in the day … it was crowded … I thought everyone would be outside enjoying the nice day. I never go to the grocery store late in day.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have a sweet tooth too, Linda. I am managing to satisfy it with fruit for now. I used to bake a lot when my kids were home. We had dessert for every meal – something homemade. I do remember Rhoda from the MTM show. I am trying to decide when to go back for another blood test for my cholesterol levels. I don’t know if I want to give it some more time or not. I will have to see.

        Liked by 1 person

      • My mom baked a lot back in the day and I never had any issues and had something sweet every day – it seems unfair doesn’t it? Even fruit has sugar though not as much as baked goods – some fruits are really high in sugar (mangoes for instance). I would wait a while if you have an option, since all the nice fruit will be out in July and August, including the sour cherries.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. How do I love this post, let me count the ways. My husband hears me but doesn’t “LISTEN” 90% of the time. Drives me nuts. Being a good listener is an art and a gift. I try very very hard but of course there are those times our brains go to FIX MODE. Thank you for the gentle, although it was to the point, reminder!!! A lot of posts lately have been related to the ministry of presence and today I’m adding listening. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a lovely thing you do for your sick friend, and you did listen to her husband. Otherwise you would not have offered more help. I know what you mean though, I am a good listener, but it’s something I’ve learned. I’ve also learned which of my friends are listening to me, and which ones are there just to talk about themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am still working on listening with empathy. It’s a work in progress. I know what you mean about your friends. I am having that issue with one of my oldest friends right now. Can’t figure that one out!

      Like

  9. This is something I’ve been working on as I’ve gotten older & noticed how people do just want to be heard… me too – we all do.
    Love this post!
    Thanks for linking up with me.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Laurie,
    I have to admit, I love the polar bears – my favorite! Yes, I have two ears and one mouth…I need to use them proportionately! Most of the time, people just want to have their feelings heard and validated, but I do think it was good that you offered some tangible help. Too many people give the cliche, “Call me if you need anything,” and don’t offer real help in time of need. God give us wisdom for when we need to listen only, and when we need to extend a helping hand. Great reminder!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Bev. We do need our God-given wisdom to figure out when to act and when to just listen sometimes. It’s a skill I am working on for sure! I love polar bears too! 🙂

      Like

  11. The art of listening is a gift we can give to one another. It’s amazing how it takes a conscience effort at times to be attentive. I want to truly hear others more.

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  12. Listening is a very important – and extremely underused – skill. BUT, I think you did exactly the right thing by making a concrete, specific, offer to help. He may have been “just venting” but he obviously was feeling overwhelmed. Many people, when faced with someone else’s struggles will say “Let me know if you need anything” which often means exactly nothing and requires the struggling person to reach out (which they often won’t do since it is awkward and… well… they are overwhelmed). Maybe even better than offering like you did (yay, you!) would be to just load up your lawn mower, drive over, and start cutting. Or, your husband could take him out to lunch, drinks, or dinner and you could stay with your friend (and maybe do some light housework while there). Yes, sometimes we just need to vent. Sometimes, though, we really do need help but feel uncomfortable to receive it. You are a good friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think he was feeling overwhelmed and depressed. I guess I tend to be a “fixer”. I thought about just showing up to do the lawn work, but I don’t want to offend him. It’s a tricky situation. Even before my friend’s illness, we could never visit them at their house unless everything was *perfect*. We always hung out at our house (which is never perfect) or went out somewhere. When I deliver the food each week, I am not “allowed” in the house. We may visit in the driveway, and that’s OK with me. I don’t want to introduce even more stress to an already stressful situation.

      Like

  13. Listening to another & really hear them validates them in so many ways…It has been my passion & career for 40 years.
    Everyone has a story to tell & needs to be heard & respected within that.
    In our busy world sadly many voices just don’t get heard!
    Great post Laurie!
    Bless you,
    Jennifer

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh this is a hot topic for me, I am so glad to see you have written about it! I am really starting to believe that the art of listening is truly beginning to disappear. Sometimes I think it is because our lives have become so fast-paced that we don’t even have time anymore to let someone finish a sentence and actually listen to what they are saying. I am always reminding my husband of this whenever I feel that he is not listening to me. He is always in such a rush to keep moving. And my mother is absolutely dreadful for it too. Maybe all of our minds are constantly racing (I think technology is definitely responsible for this). I know that I find it hard to slow my mind down at times. It is something that we all badly need to work harder on, before communication breaks down altogether! #ablogginggoodtime

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you, Tracey. I think technology plays a big role in keeping us all feeling like we are constantly under the gun. It IS something we all need to work on!

      Like

  15. LIstening is an act of love. It takes intention but I believe the first step to true listening is being able to notice when you are NOT listening. You’ve taken that step and now the door is open to creating a new habit. Bravo for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. “I should stop formulating a response while my conversation partner is still talking, to sometimes accept the pauses and the stillness of silence.”
    There is beauty and solace in the pauses, but I find that pauses are easiest with the people you are most comfortable being with, and otherwise can be quite awkward. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Laurie- thank you for sharing your post and linking up with #TuneInThursday last week. You are being featured tomorrow as the most viewed post. Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. haha love this “There’s a reason you have two ears and only one mouth.” I did a listening skills course a few years back and realised what listening truly meant. It really opened up my eyes, or should I say ears and I believe has made me a better mother, wife, daughter etc. I also began to see the friends who actually always turned the conversation back onto themselves and helped me realise why i felt so “unheard”. Really great post! One I think we can all learn from. #ABloggingGoodTime

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s amazing how things my mom said to me years ago come back to me now. I am sure I ignored them at the time! 🙂 A listening course sounds wonderful! I could use some help being a better listener.

      Like

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