My role in many friendships tends to be that of listener. I am a naturally quiet, introspective person and many people who need to talk find those qualities to be helpful. I regularly find myself listening to people whom I know well and many times to people in line at the grocery store or in the aisle at Home Depot. Somethings I am privileged to hear, others...
Listening really is an art. Though part of it comes naturally to me, another part has been learned. There is a difference between listening to react and listening just to listen. Most of us listen to react, ie, as the other person is talking we are forming our thoughts and sentences in order to react to what they are saying, give advice, argue, what-have-you. When we listen to react, we aren't actually hearing what the other person is saying.
Listening just to listen is harder. It means I have to put my own thoughts and reactions aside (I can't BELIEVE she just said that, does she know how WRONG that is!) and simply hear the person speaking. For me, that also means hearing the layers of stuff that are beneath the words. The nuances in the phrases or the body language and eye contact.
Facebook is a place where we don't do well at listening just to listen. Part of it stems from the very self-focused nature of FB to begin with, part of it stems from our need to solve everyone else's problems. I'm a part of a FB group where I am constantly scanning and reading the threads. This particular group is a helper type group anyway, so anytime someone posts something there a bunch of people responding with "we did..." or "in my instance..." Well meaning but sometimes the person posting in the first place just needs these three words. "I hear you."
I learned those three words from my friend JL. I've worked hard to embody those words. I hear you. Because, folks, we all need to be heard. Not given ways to fix the problem, not told how we could do it better, not told stories of when it happened to the other person that's really not relevant but struck them as a story to tell. We all just need to be heard.
As someone who has something traumatic/unexpected/overwhelming happen in their family, I have needed to have people who are there to listen to me. There are definitely people on my safe list and then there are the others, those who want to give advice, who want me (us) to feel comforted and they offer what they believe are words of comfort (there's a whole 'nother post here but let me just say I told one friend if she uttered a particular phrase I would invoke my super powers and make sure she had shoe malfunctions every day and she would get a not so nice nickname on Facebook...I'm that passionate about this particular phrase not being uttered to me or my mom or brother or dad.) Yo Momma spotted a link to an article of Facebook and I checked it out (Kimi, she swears it was a share on your FB page...if so, THANK YOU!)
It's good. So good. Take a look for yourself. http://articles.latimes.com/2013/apr/07/opinion/la-oe-0407-silk-ring-theory-20130407
Sometimes, we all just need someone to listen and say back to us, "I hear you." Enough said.