On Listening (an excerpt)

“When I ask you to listen
and you start giving advice,
you have not done what I have asked.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen
and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem,
you have failed me, strange as it may seem.

All I asked was that you listen;
not talk or do-just hear me . . . I can do for myself.

I’m not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and feeling of inadequacy.

But when you accept as fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational,
then I can quit trying to convince you and get about the business of understanding what’s behind this irrational feeling.

And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious and I don’t need advice.”
~ Ralph Boughton, M.D, quoted in The 8th Habit, Stephen R. Covey, Free Press, New York, 2004

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