I was talking with one of my sisters recently and she started venting about our other sister. See, sister A was complaining about work stuff: shit her boss does, shit her colleagues do and, mostly, shit her boss does and why her boss shouldn’t do it the way she does and and and. To this, B demanded of A to give her 3 good reasons why A wouldn’t open up her own business “if it’s that easy!”. But you see, A never wanted to be a business owner, so she couldn’t give B more than that one reason – which seriously trumps any other reasons – and B just wouldn’t shut the hell up. B demanded more reasons. A was upset. Obviously! A needed to vent but she wasn’t allowed. Because B had many opinions and many ways to show A the error of her ways (this behaviour is, by the way, one of the many things that makes B a total bitch in my eyes and the reason why I actively avoid her).
Well… It’s hard to be a good listener and to me it’s hard to even stay focused on what people are saying (jump to minute 1 of this video if you want to get an idea of what it’s like being in my head) but amazingly, I managed to clench the insane need to say “That’s what YOU do with me all the time! It’s annoying as all hell!”. Instead, I managed to shout “Oh my god, that is SO annoying! I HATE when people do that to me! I just feel like yelling, shut up! I just need to open up, it doesn’t mean I need help! I’ll ask for help when I need it, shut up!”
A obviously and thankfully didn’t see herself in my vague accusations. I will eventually tell her that offering help when I don’t need it feels rather insulting, but instead of being a nag myself, I managed to be supportive. I’ll nag her some other time, we’re still young! But this made me realize how tricky listening to people is. Sometimes we think giving advice shows caring and good listening skills, but there are good chances that it’s not the case most of the times. It’s at least something to consider.
Let me tell you, personally, the best listeners are my best friend, who will invariably listen to all I have to say and just comment “Fuck, friend… sucks…” or another awesome friend who, after I got fired in January, and after listening to all the crap my boss was pulling, instead of offering advice just looked about to explode and said “I would love to come across that woman on the street, really. I’d have a couple of things to say to her.”. None of these helpful comments include advice.