There are Times when the Kindest Thing You can do is Listen

Listen - ListeningA good friend of mine, who is a social worker, made the following touching post on Facebook about the importance of listening. “For the last several months I’ve been working with teenagers who are getting ready to age out of foster care. I’m teaching them life skills such as how to apply for and get a job, how to open a bank account and budget, how to receive their GED or HS diploma. Things that your parents are supposed to help you with. It can be frustrating when I see little progress and even less interest. Today I met with one of my clients who has been in the foster care system for several years…moving from home, to home, to home. He started to show some vulnerability. He wants to give up. He’s lost. He’s confused. He’s losing hope. I closed my laptop and put my papers down and I just listened because I could tell he needed to talk more than anything else. Then he said this: ‘I can tell you this stuff because I know you’re listening to me. You’re the only adult who listens to me. Everyone else brushes me off, my case manager is busy, my friends don’t believe me. You listen, I can tell because you make eye contact and you put everything else aside, you don’t just ignore me.’ He didn’t need to hear about how to save money each month or how to ask for more hours at work…he needed to be heard. Maybe it’s a lesson to have a little more compassion for others. Make conversation with the grocery clerk, the young barista, wave to your neighbor. What if you’re the only one who has shown any type of interest in them in months? You never know what kind of impact you can make by just taking a few minutes to be present with someone.”

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