My favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quote: “A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.”
We all want to give advice, don’t we? In fact, many of us dive right into solving problems—when all that’s really needed is simply a good ear–an opportunity to get clarity and strength back from having some support. A good rush of serotonin to the brain to bring some peace of mind back.
A strategy in Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Women is that when someone is venting—whether it’s your kid, friend, spouse or co-worker—before you dive into your best advice, ask permission with this question: Are you asking for my opinion or should I just listen?
The other day, my daughter called with a lot on her mind—and assuredly she’s been well-trained—but she was wise enough to warn me: “I’m not trying to solve my problem, Mom. I’m just venting on my lunch break, so I can go back to my job fresh.”
I heard that loud and clear. While I might have launched into saying something “wise” or encouraging, I quieted the pipes down, got really centered, and gave her my best ear—not my best advice or my usual positive spin on things.
She reminded me that there’s value in venting.
So often we rush into solutions when all that’s needed is a few moments to let off the steam of frustration that tends to boil like a pot of water.
If you ask for permission to speak into the situation—and they grant it—then you must be prepared that even if the person listens, they might not take your best advice.
I know that’s frustrating—believe me. It’s one of the things that is challenging about coaching and mentoring. You repeat the same things over and over, and until there’s an “Aha! I get it!” moment, not a lot changes.
Yet, you’re likely to be heard better from others if you’re willing to listen well most of the time.
We call it “becoming a world class listener.”
Like a tea cup waiting to be filled, you must offer your empty presence.
That means being centered, grounded, and having an open compassionate heart with a quiet mind to become a container for all that needs to be expressed from the person whose venting.
When you can offer your empty presence and be a container of support for someone you care about, you will be on your way to creating your most vibrant relationships—those that will turn an ear for you when you need empty presence, too.