Do You Hear What I Hear?

I doubt I’m the only one who read the title with a musical voice, and perhaps even an echo.

But this entry isn’t about a song.

A few entries back, I shared a few of my favorite tweets. One in particular has stuck with me:

If you want compassion, be compassionate.
If you want respect, be respectful.
If you want to be heard, listen.

Most especially the last one.

I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I figure if a person wants to change something about his/her life, why wait until a specific date? Do it today, because no one is guaranteed tomorrow (the procrastinator in me just hissed in my ear as I finished that last sentence).

I understand it, though. Oftentimes, people don’t think about the past or the future until the turn of a new year. It’s only natural to take stock and decide how to make the next year better.

Last night Dave, Tom and I spent New Years with some friends and their children. Everyone was having a great time, but for whatever reason, I decided to go on Facebook. I stumbled on a friend’s post who appeared to be having a rough time. I made a comment, and soon we PMed each other for a bit. I couldn’t offer any advice, because I too often don’t understand everything another person is going through. Especially when we’re not in the same room. To offer advice seems presumptuous, perhaps even condescending, and I could too easily give the wrong advice. Something I always want to avoid – for their sake.

All I could do was listen, so that’s what I did.

He told someone else later that our little conversation helped.

Sometimes that’s all we need. I can’t tell you how many times I needed someone to listen to my troubles, but not because I wanted a solution. It was to be heard and understood, no more and no less.

I don’t reveal this to brag, or to be congratulated, because no one should receive a literal or figurative pat on the back for doing something that he/she is supposed to do anyway. I would do it for anyone, because it’s the right thing to do, and I expect my own friends to do the same for me. That’s not high expectation; that’s the definition of friendship. If they don’t, they’re not my friends.

In looking back on 2016, I didn’t listen enough. I talked a lot, that’s for sure, and as such, I may have alienated and ignored people who needed a friendly ear. Not this year. My 2017 resolution is to listen more and talk less. If doing so lightens someone’s burden even a little – whether I know about it or not – it’ll make whatever happens the rest of the year worthwhile.

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