He who answers a matter before he hears it,
It is folly and shame to him.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey
When we talk with our friends, or even our clients, there is a natural tendency to want to alleviate the pain that they are experiencing. A person discussing their problems is suffering to some degree, and they have decided to speak to us to unburden some of those concerns and worries that they may be carrying.
That tendency to try to help solve the “problem” is natural. Someone came asking for our help, and we want to give it. Indeed, we think we have the right answers for them.
The problem is, people don’t always want answers- they want to be heard. They want validation that they are suffering, and they need attention and acceptance. They may not be looking for solutions.
I have found that people who do not want solutions to their problems, simply an understanding friend, will resist our attempts at giving solutions. Some people who are in the “caregiver” role, then can become frustrated. They may say something like, “Well, if they didn’t want my help, why did they ask?”
Actually, the seeker may not have been asking for answers. They may just want a soft landing to discuss how they feel. So, remember, listening closely is helpful in and of itself. It may be just the “answer” some people are looking for.
Prayer: Lord, help us to be quick to listen!