Recently  I spent a lot of time telling people what to do.

Bad LA.

As I often point out- no one tells you what to do.

I gave a few stern lectures about how we shouldn’t negate our friends feelings- yet- after all my high handed conversation, I found myself doing just that- I found myself negating their feelings.

But…

This time…

I realized what I was doing…

Cue the beautiful sunrise and chorus of the angels as I came to a realization…

I stopped before I spoke (or in this case typed as conversations were via text or email) And just for the record, those who know me IRL know I NEVER THINK BEFORE I SPEAK- so this alone was a cause for celebration…

One of my besties was complaining about her saggy face. I was about to tell her that the only saggy thing was perhaps her brain, but I…

stopped

I took a moment

and I responded:

“I understand that you feel that way. I know that it makes you upset to see that gravity may not be your friend. What would you like to do about it?”

Instead of putting her on the defensive, or making her feel invalidated by my comments of what are you complaining about– I took her side.

Sidebar: you should support your friends unless they are doing something incredibly dangerous to their well being, or someone else’s…

And she talked out her feelings a little, we laughed (ok- it was email- I assumed she was laughing by the insouciant comments) and I don’t know about her- but I felt better afterward. We then went on to discuss This is Us….

Most of the time, when our friends complain about something, they just want to be heard. So hear them.

Don’t jump in with a solution

Don’t tell them they’re crazy

Listen to them.

Ask them if you can help

Ask questions to make them think about their statement

Just Listen to Them

Check your own feelings, ideas and notions at the door- let your friend/partner/family/whatever say what they need to say without judgement.

Be present and open and listen…

And yeah- I’m telling you what to do again…..I’ll work on that next….

69 thoughts on “What We Should Check at the Door

  1. This post reminded me of a Butler, which lead me to ask, “What would Jeeves do?”

    But yeah, generally speaking I’m a fan of the idea of just listening. In reality, it’s hard not to jump in with solutions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sociological study time:
    Have you always been this way, as in pre-child handing out words of wisdom to all, or has this become the LA after motherhood?
    Personally I cannot remember back as far as pre-children, but I know that I am very good now as a mom at the not listening/fixing the problem issue if I don’t check myself quickly. I do this almost instinctively when speaking with people near my own children’s ages–as in at work.
    Can we blame this on a “mom-thing”, a female thing, a personality thing, or ???

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oddly enough…I’m not a problem solver mom. If my daughter complains about something I automatically go into what can you do mode, and with her I’m an active listener, and actually only dole out advice when specifically asked. It’s with my friends I jump into you should do this mode…funny, huh….

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Listening is hard to do sometimes. As moms we get used to solving problems. Therefore, when our children, our husbands, or our friends are upset or bothered by something we instantly go into help mode. We want to make things better. So we come up with solutions. We are great at that!
    My sister told me the other day, “I’m NOT asking for your advice , I just want to get things off my chest and gripe a little. I need you to listen. “
    I was taken aback because I consider myself an excellent problem solver. But, I realized she called me because she wanted to gripe about her kids, her hubby, her mom in law etc. She was just feeling overwhelmed and undervalued and needed to talk about it. Once she unloaded she felt better.
    I have to say it was difficult to not jump in with advice. But I listened instead .
    As women we have learned to help others. That’s what we do. We drop everything and problem solve. It’s our super power. And as a teacher I was in problem solving mode all day! But I guess being a good listener is just as important. Now I’ll Ask my sister, “Would you like to hear an idea I have that might be helpful? “If she wants my advice then I’ll give it. Otherwise I’ll let her just bitch a bit. Lol
    But we can’t be too hard on ourself for trying to give advice. After all , we really are superstars at giving advice. 😏🤣

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s funny, because I really see men as the “problem solver”. My husband gets frustrated if he can’t “fix” something, or he jumps into action mode. I think women are generally a little bit better at the listening thing…doesn’t mean we don’t jump in with advice though…I actually thanked a guy friend recently who just listened to me rant, and simply asked when I was done , if I felt better

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I am a teacher also. I work online and with students in person. At one of my jobs, I work with at risk teenagers and I usually at the end of the day feel totally bewildered by some things I see. The only thing about being older and experience is that I handle it better. Sometimes the best thing is to not say anything.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. It’s interesting to see this described as a thing moms tend to do. I don’t have children and think of it as a husband thing to do! “Hey, dude! I just want to talk about my problem, not get your 101 perfect solutions to it. Sympathy, that’s what I need.”

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It is good advice but in real time…it is hard to take a break and to be logic. Usually emotions rule and pragmatism goes out the window. In looking back, we often have a different version and I have learned sometime later that my picture was not completely framed. All the facts might not have been there for one to hear and see.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I usually equate this with being a man. Most of the time if I want to vent about something it is not my husband I will go to because he will try to solve it or tell me I am being over reactive. I pull myself back with my kids unless they ask for an opinion or help and they know to specifically ask. It is a learning process for me, because there are times when the solution is so obvious to me, but maybe the solution would only work for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve gotten to the point where I try (but am not always successful) to ask what someone is looking for in a response. Do you need a shoulder or an ear to listen to you vent? Or, are you looking for advice and feedback? It is sometimes hard to remember to do, especially when it comes to the kids, but it has made a world of difference in my relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I really love this post. We all suffer from words falling out of our mouths that shouldn’t! Bravo to you for recognizing what she really needed and being a good friend. If we all stopped and took time to listen to others, the world would be a lot nicer place. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  8. LA,
    Excellent post! I was going to write a post today with a pingback or link or whatever it’s called to this post; but then I decided not to publish what I wrote because it would have burned a bridge with someone with whom I’m having a difficult moment. Sometimes ya gotta write it and then delete it to get it out of your system, I suppose! Anyway, I love your thought that sometimes we just need to listen and that sometimes there isn’t an easy fix or any viable fix. I read another post from a different blogger who had a very different response than you did. Their idea was to tell whoever was venting to step back and stop because their emoting was ruining this person’s day and that they could talk about whatever was upsetting the person at some other time. Ouch! Anyway, both your post and the other gave me good perspective and clarified my own position in my own stressful situation. Thanks! A big hug to you! Mona

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It’s funny, I get that there are people whose negativity is emotionally draining (in my house we call them family) but I can’t imagine telling someone not to air their issues….maybe I’ll write a post about the definition of friends….

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I experienced this today with a friend. Each of us needed to talk about big things, and we met each other with open hearts and minds. We needed to be heard, but we also needed to be checked. Am I being unreasonable? Should I handle it differently?, etc.
    A trusted friend is an absolute blessing.
    I’m sure your friend was grateful to be heard.
    Beautifully written post, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I am cracking up about the “saggy brain ” line. Love it! But yes you have to know when to use your wit and when not too and to know who you can use it with. 🙂
    Now about “This is Us!” ….. Love that show!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I spent decades telling people what to do, but with age & training, comes wisdom. I try to do better these days, except on those rare occasions when someone just needs telling – but I limit myself to only indulging that instinct when I’ve tried all other options, asked all the possible questions in an attempt to lead them there, and only when whatever it is is doing them harm. I don’t always succeed mind, for I’m human, but we’re all works in progress …

    Liked by 1 person

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