on even ground

In Naomi Ernest’s most recent letter, she writes about the challenge of learning to listen actively rather than dole out unsolicited advice.

Her words hit home for me, both on the giving and the receiving end.

In conversations with friends, I’ve caught myself using phrases like, “Have you tried . . . “ or “You should . . .” or, and I’m ashamed to admit this one, “If I were you . . . “

Naomi references a beautiful post from Verily magazine,

“Now, when I jump in to offer somebody a suggestion, I’m more aware of the person who I should have been focusing on all along—my friend, not myself. And, I’m starting to check myself and ask the right questions: Am I really trying to help, or do I just want to look knowledgeable? Have I actually been listening, or was I just waiting for my turn to respond? Is my friend actually looking for help, or do they just need a sympathetic ear?” —Anna O’Neil

In her letter, Naomi asks, In what ways might we practice better listening?

To begin this practice where friends share their worries on even ground rather than one needing help and the other rescuing and solving, I am simply sharing my intention when I meet with a friend.

I want to listen and open my heart to you without judgment. I want to show you love and respect.