Please Listen to Me

When I started my psychotherapy practice in 1987, I hung a poster titled “Please Listen to Me” on my group room wall. Even though it is no longer on the wall, I think of the content often. I believe it contains important information for everyone, but might be especially helpful to those of you who are participating in this week’s Challenge for Growth prompt.

Please Listen to Me

When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving 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 feel you have to do something to solve my problems, you have failed me, strange as that may seem.

All I ask is that you listen. Not talk or do, just hear me. Advice is cheap: 50 cents will get you both Dorothy Dix and Dr Spock in the same newspaper. And 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 weakness. But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I quit trying to convince you and can 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. 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.

Author Unknown

15 thoughts on “Please Listen to Me

  1. I liked your poster, Karuna and its is an important foil to the approach I take in my own blog – with its focus on action. The poster may well stop me talking – if only once – when it is unhelpful. I could ask clients to keep an eye out for unhelpful advice.

    In practice, that said, there is a tricky thing balance between listening and speaking at the right time. I find it not acceptable for clients to be paying fees for longer than is necessary when our own speaking can get their attention at just the right time- enabling a client to make a slightly different move – of their own design. That way clients have an opportunity to build confidence and avoid repeating themselves as i listen.

    I guess this means that listening is not always enough and I wondered what your view was on this ‘balance’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I very much agree with you. In therapy we sometimes need to interrupt speaking. Even in our regular life there are times when that is appropriate and needed.

      I’m definitely not a listen only therapist; I’m very action oriented and I teach clients lots of tools.

      However my mind has a tendency to always goes to thinking about solutions and I’m eager to offer those solutions/proposed actions as soon as possible. I need to work on making sure I’m listening long enough and not shifting the conversation too soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is the tricky bit; listening without withholding (strategies a client cannot be expected to have at their finger tips). My own view of a success in getting that balance right arises when a client seems to integrated an action we’ve discussed together but attributes it to their own actions, rather than my ideas or recommendations.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I keep reading this. It is really good
    Hear me without having an answer
    See me without having a judgement
    Know me for what I am
    And I will work to do the same for you
    Really simple
    Very hard.

    Liked by 1 person

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