By David Coy
Previous President Roosevelt was tired of smiling his big smile and saying the usual things at the White House receptions. So, he decided to find out if anyone was paying attention. As people came up to him to shake his hand, he smiled and said, ‘I murdered my grandmother this morning.’ People gave the usual automatic answers, while only one foreign diplomat responded saying, “Well, she probably deserved it.”
The art of listening is missing in action in the lives of some. When we desire to genuinely help others the first skill to master is the art of listening. When someone is listening to someone speak, they desire to assess the meaning of what is being said. In doing this they will listen to the tone and observe the body language. At the same time the listener will repeat back to the speaker certain phrases from time to time which allow the speaker to assess whether or not the listener is understanding what is being said from the perspective the speaker intends. If a phrase repeated back to the speaker is incorrect then the speaker has then the opportunity to correct the misunderstanding by the listener immediately. This is actively listening and assures that the listener is understanding what is being said from the perspective of the speaker. This is the ideal approach.
Most of us do not attain the ideal, and in most circumstances, it may not be necessary. It is vital that first of all we show up. Be there when our family or friend needs us in their time of loss and sorrow. Realize that the journey with grief may be a long road; thus, patient endurance is also critical as you walk with them in their journey with grief. As long as it takes, be with them and be willing to listen and at the appropriate time give advice when they ask for it. Most of the time they just want a listening ear.
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