Jar Full of Smiles: Listening Friends

Out of the jar on a happy blue piece of paper. a little reminder that there are various ways of listening. There is an adage about listening which has a great deal of truth to it. “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” We listen to skim the surface of what someone is saying and in the process assess what our thoughts are on the matter while formulating a response, and usually before the person finishes speaking. As if somehow our opinion will be invalidated, or our response wrong if we delay in any way. How did we reach the point where it is presumed that if we don’t immediately voice our opinion we don’t have one? But that is a post for another day. 😉
Here is what the strip of paper had on it:

Everyone hears what you say.
Friends listen to what you say.
Best friends listen to what you don’t say.

How very true. Most people listen to your words to respond. They hear the words, but only in the context of whether they agree, disagree, or remain neutral. In the last post from the smile jar, the encouragement talked about friends seeing the truth and pain in you — and a lot of that has to do with how a friend listens. They have empathy for your situation, so when you speak of whatever is troubling you or making you happy, they both share your joy or your pain. I know it makes me feel better when I am able to share something with my friends and have them truly listen to what I am saying. It’s a validation that I am important to them. Equally, I make sure that I listen to what they have to say. To quote another adage, “The best way to have a friend is to be one.”

Then there is the special friend who listens to what you haven’t said. My best friend will ask me straight out, “What aren’t you telling me?” She always knows when there is something more. It’s not that I am deliberately trying to hide anything, but she will sense something is missing or the silence speaks volumes. Usually those are also the times when I’m feeling down, since happiness tends to bubble out no matter what. She listens that hard because she cares for me, and I do the same for her.

I chose the picture of the dog because it made me smile. My fur babies were always great listeners. They may not have understood all of my words, but they never failed to understand how I was feeling. Sometimes, there is nothing better than confiding in a furry friend, who will never judge, but give you nothing but love and understanding.

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