Wednesday, June 02, 2010


So I've been thinking a lot about listening lately. More specifically the art of listening to someone when they give you "input" on some situation in your life.

Matt was telling me the other day about a friend who "wouldn't listen to what anyone had to say to her, she was just going to do what she wanted either way". And it was funny, my first response was "well, wouldn't you?" or "wouldn't I?". And then it started this bigger conversation, where I started to ask people - "who do you actually listen to? and why?". It seemed like the common demoninator was often that we listened to people who had been through the same things as us, and that we trusted. But not necessarily. For example, our parents might have been through something and we may "trust" them, but we still don't want to hear their opinion. We want to act for ourselves.

And the more I talked about it, I wondered - is this our generation? Were our parents more willing to say "no, that's wrong, don't do that" (for better or worse sometimes) Are we too afraid? Have we reacted to them and gone too far in the other direction? Will we never say it? When I talk to a friend, I often hold back some of my thoughts if I think they sound "judgemental" in my head. I don't want to be that person. I want to show my friends I love them no matter what.

Sometimes, I think that is right course of action. You can hear in their voice - they have been judged, or hurt by a lot of "do's and don'ts" thrown at them by parents, or friends, or whoever. And you are just there to listen and love them.

But other times, I am not so sure. I wonder - should I have said (in love and with a lot of caveats) that I was worried abut them? But would it make a difference? Or would it just lead to friendships ending because we hate hearing this kind of stuff. I have to admit that I tend to spend more time with those that agree with me.

These are just some thoughts - spinning my head, and I just wondered what you thought - if you think we're all like this, or if you think you can take it. I know - sort an intense post. I'll try to make the next one lighter - perhaps about the Bestseller I just finished. Yep, it's true.


Laura said...

It's not that this isn't an excellent post - it is and we're going to have to have more conversations about this question - but I need to comment first on this picture: it is many kinds of fabulous. Well selected.

afterthoughtcomposer said...

Oh Sharelle, good one.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this one lately, in less defined terms, but from the other side: as the person on the receiving end of all the advice (welcomed or not). All I can say, is that you’re right: say something (if your friend is talking to you about it, likely they want to know what you think), but do it "in love and with a lot of caveats". And then after you’ve said your bit, give some MORE love. The most important part in all of it though, is that you assume the person you’re talking to already knows what you’re talking about. That old familiar “wow, I’m being judged” feeling comes fastest when the speaker acts like they know more than everyone else. So humility, grace, and love. All three, and your friend won’t feel judged, they will feel that you are being humble, gracious, and loving :)

At the end of the day though, sometimes your friend might not want to hear it. I’ve been in that situation before too, recognizing that while I knew that person would regret their choices, they didn’t want to listen to anyone who would advise them otherwise. SO I think in that case you wait until they’re ready to be loved again, and go love them.

Sharelle, you’re an amazing friend, a beautiful person, and someone who (in my opinion) knows how to genuinely love others. You are also someone with sweet insights, you are intelligent & delightful. That being said, share yourself with the people around you – we’ll love you for it.