We All Need People Who Will Listen

By Linda Adams, President of GTIactive listening brain research

Active Listening to someone is a real gift to them. If you’ve ever had the experience of being truly accepted and understood as you delve into deep or emotion-laden feelings, you know the kind of relief and catharsis that can result. And as magical as it can be, it’s sometimes very difficult to do. Further, it doesn’t always go well. Often, the reason is that we want the other person to change; we don’t feel accepting of them as they are. Here’s a poem by Krystena Houk, which expresses the kind of listening we would all like to have:


When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving me advice,
you have not done what I 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 to me
and you think you have to do something
to solve my problem
you have failed me,
strange as that may seem.

Listen! All I asked was that you listen,
not talk or do…just hear me
advice is cheap; 25 cents will get
you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham
in the same newspaper.
And I can do that myself.
I am not helpless.
maybe discouraged and faltering,
but not helpless.

When you do something for me
that I can do for myself,
you contribute to my fear
and inadequacy.
But when you accept as a simple fact
that I do feel what I feel,
no matter how irrational,
then I can quit trying to convince you
and can get about the business of understanding
what’s behind this irrational feeling.

And when it’s clear, the answers
are obvious and I don’t need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense when
we understand what’s behind them.
Perhaps that’s why prayer works
sometimes, for some people…
because God is mute and doesn’t
give advice or try to fix things.
He or (She) just listens and
lets you work it out yourself.

So please listen and just hear me
and if you want to talk,
wait a minute for your turn…
and I’ll listen to you.