Can He/She Hear Me?

October 19, 2012

Personal Growth

Don called me and described how his brother-in-law, Edward, frequently complained about how he was mistreated by his boss, carefully detailing every grievance. On one such occasion, Edward asked Don what he would do in a similar situation. Eagerly seizing an opportunity to teach Edward something about Real Love, Don suggested that his boss was probably feeling empty and afraid.

"If I were you," Don said. "I would go out of my way to show my boss some love—not in the form of hugs and kisses—but just by offering to help out with difficult tasks, going out of my way to be social: like saying hi and asking after the kids."

Edward dismissed this approach as passive and unacceptable.

Don said to me, "In the past, I would have gotten irritated at anybody like your boss, but in all the years I spent getting angry at people like that, it never worked once. In fact, it usually just made things worse."

Because Don had experienced enough Real Love himself, he recognized that his brother-in-law was incapable of hearing him, so he walked away from the conversation without feeling disappointed that Edward hadn't listened to him

If we listen, people are telling us with their every breath whether they can hear what we have to say. If they can't, it doesn't matter if what we say is right, or even if the information we have could really help somebody. If a person can't hear us, the conversation is over.

Often when we believe we're truly "helping" someone, we feel justified in violating their right to not listen to us, and when we do that, we violate their right to choose—the most precious right of all. People always have the right to make their own choices—even when they choose stupidly or choose to hurt themselves—as Don recognized with Edward.

Real Love for Wisemen and Women

Learn how to truly listen.


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