Tara West

July 5, 2023

A few days ago, I was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. I didn’t get enough sleep, was stressed about a project I was working on, and, to top it off, I lost my favorite pair of glasses.

I LOVED those glasses.

So I was feeling out of sorts, to put it mildly, and decided to call my friend, “Dave.”

Out of all of the very empathic and generous friends and family members in my life, why did I choose Dave as the person to call in that moment?

There were at least two reasons.

First, Dave is an excellent listener. He reflects what I’m saying, without judgment, and doesn’t give advice unless I ask for it. And even then, he’s reluctant to give advice because he trusts that I know more about my own situation than he does. So when he actually does offer his thoughts, he does so with a gentle touch. Dave doesn’t try to fix things or tell me what I should do as if he knows more than I do - he listens, shows that he’s listening, and trusts me to make good decisions for myself.

And second, Dave has, on more than one occasion, called me when he was having a very bad day. Because Dave has shown that he can be vulnerable and ask for help when he needs it, I felt comfortable asking him for help when I needed it.

A lot of us don’t ask for help when we need it -  we don’t want to feel vulnerable, and we don’t want to be a burden to others. But when we reach out to someone for help, we’re actually giving a gift to that person - we’re giving them permission to reach out to us, as well.

And if that weren’t enough, the act of giving nonjudgmental support is itself rewarding. It turns out that we humans love to support others - it helps us fulfill our basic psychological need to connect. So when you ask someone for help, you’re actually giving two gifts to that person.

So if you’re going through something difficult, or are just having a very bad day, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone you trust. And if you tell them that you might just need a listening ear in that moment, this can be a tremendous gift to both of you.

To learn more about what it means to listen well, along with the many benefits of doing so, check out Arukah Network's podcast interview with me here:

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