Friday, December 17, 2010

Uncomfortable with being listened to

Important words are tricky to find. The hardest time to speak is when I know it must be said.

I can discuss all sorts of issues and situations, as an observer. And its easy to make a statement that will be forgotten by all who hear it. But my tongue stumbles over sentences that reveal too much of me.

People apologise for talking of their struggles, for spending time on their sadness, or their anger, even their delight. Are they sorry for their honesty? Or is it an acknowledgement that saying what they've said was tough. Because it was important. Because it revealed who they are.

And most of us protect our vulnerable selves from too much exposure by preparing in advance. We decide what we will say, what feels safe, and what we will hold back. We know how to filter. And we do it to survive.

When we really listen, and hear what people are saying, sometimes we hear what they are trying not to say, too. Sometimes we see and hear more than they intended. No wonder they feel uncomfortable.

Accept the apology, because they are sorry for their revelation. They were not intending it, and it catches them by surprise. Accept them. You may not like or agree with what has been shown, but remember it has cost them to show it.

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