There are two responses to listening: advice and agreement. That’s my personal diagnosis and I would like to use the disclaimer that I have no idea what I’m talking about. In my personal experience, people will either agree with you or give you advice. There is a time and place for both, but more often I’ve found it’s a matter of personal preference. Listening is one of the most crucial activities in any relationship with friends, family, co-workers, etc. It either opens the door for more discussion or slams it shut.
A close friend of mine has said that she likes when people just allow her to vent without giving advice. This directly stems (she says) from her parents consistently giving advice every time she approaches them with a problem.
I am the exact opposite. I want an action plan. I want someone to tell me exactly what to do with specifics on how to remedy my dilemma. This could be a result of my parents hesitating a bit with advice. I’ve always had elaborate plans for everything, down to which order I need to run my errands (ridiculous) and I would imagine there was rarely room for advice. But when things crumble and I fall, I need someone to tell me where the stairs are to get back up. I guess I could just "PLAN BETTER," but let's separate ourselves from #teamsheen for a moment.
One summer when I was in New York for an internship, a fellow intern humored me by listening to some drawn out dilemma. I asked what I should do and the reply was: “You already know what you want to do.” This has stuck with me through every obstacle I’ve faced since. No one knows you more than yourself, and the options have been selectively weighed in your mind. That statement does both, it agrees with advice, and I think that’s the best thing to say.
How do you listen?