23 Jul 2008

Second Chances for Supportive Listening

Posted by paulandrew

A friend had a bad experience in apartment hunting. I got really “hooked” by what she was saying–I got worried, and I ended up giving her lots of unwelcome advice.

And I felt bad after. “I blew it!” I had the chance to just listen, which would have been the most helpful thing, and in a moment of intensity I gave lots of “direction.” I don’t think it helped, and certainly not at that moment.

But the next day she talked about the situation again, and this time it wasn’t as intense for me. I guess I’d had a chance to calm down over it. Plus I remembered what happened last time, and so I could “pattern match” very quickly and know what behavior I wanted to avoid.

And sure enough this second time I did a much better job at doing Supportive Listening for her. I had to remind myself that just listening really well is in itself powerful.

I am coming to realize that this is a learning process, and it takes time. It’s not fair to expect that I’ll get it right all at once, the very first time. And when I do make the mistake, frankly I’m probably no worse off than I was before I was even trying to do Supportive Listening!

So give yourself a break! If you are trying to do Supportive Listening and don’t do it as well as you’d hoped, don’t worry—you’ll have another opportunity in the near future. Keep at it!

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