**A blog thought by William V. Anderson (editor in chief of Blood Sweat & Tiaras and Be Known LLC)
You all know these people. You have had numerous in your life. They are never a burden. Always there when you need them whether you realize it or not. They are your listeners.
Friends. Pastors. Clergy. Loved ones. They come from all walks of life. They do not wear a sign around their necks saying “I am willing to listen” but somehow we just know who they are when they show up in our lives. They do not judge you. In many ways, they do not keep track of you nor keep score. They do remember what you told them anyway, but do not use it against you. They listen.
You do not have an exclusive contract with them. While they make you feel you are the only person they invest their time in, they no doubt listen to others. You may not ever know that because they never divulge the thoughts or musings of others. You feel this confidentiality. They listen and they keep their mouths shut.
If you consider for a moment, you realize they do not have all the answers. The fact of the matter is, they don’t have many answers at all. But many times they know something you don’t know or have stopped realizing yourself: they know you already have the answers to many of your problems in life. What makes them so completely valuable to you is that they will let you answer your own questions as you unload on them. It has been stated before that we listen in order to respond. They listen and let you solve the situations.
I have a close friend, actually a close associate of mine. She gets up on stages, or down on gym floors and thousands of young people listen to her every word. She has much to say and her audiences love her. She does not lecture, but rather shares with her groups. But what I have noticed on any number of occasions is she listens – even in that all too brief period of time that she gets to spend with those coming up after her performances (yes, they are performances) to talk to her face-to-face. Those represent a small percentage of the people she reached that day: They have issues… They have problems… Most they feel are unsurmountable. Yes, she offers words of encouragement. She gives out advice. Mainly she listens.
But who listens to the listeners? By choice, listeners spend a great deal of time listening to other people’s problems. It is not a burden, not really even a responsibility. It is something they freely do in their daily lives. A calling. Certainly a good quality to have. Do they need listeners?
As with most listeners, I do not have all the answers. I do believe listeners need special people in their lives just like anybody else. You cannot always count on a spouse, a pastor, or a worker friend. The nice thing is you never quite know where a true listener might come from. Seeking them out might not be the best advice. Like a mentor, they are just there. Listening.
So back to the premise of writing this. Who listens to the listeners? Possibly nobody. But I have a theory. It is not that they, the listeners, do not need listeners in their lives, I believe we all benefit from those people. Maybe they learn what they need to know from listening. Just like the person unloading their problems on somebody they trust, listeners get the same results by listening to others. That does not mean they are better at dealing with things in their lives. Quite the contrary frankly speaking. It just means they observe. They take what they hear, what they notice and try to apply it to their own lives. They learn. Listeners learn by listening.
So the next time you have the opportunity to have somebody listen to you, remember a few things. Listen to their reactions. Listen to their statements. Don’t listen to respond, listen to learn. Chances are, you already know how to deal with your situation. You are not necessarily looking for confirmation, just affirmation. If you are smart enough to know you need somebody to listen to you, you have made it past the hard part!
Understand that you are blessed. God has nothing but excellent plans for you. Even when things go wrong, He puts people in your life if for no other reason than to listen.