To answer before listening. – That is folly and shame ( Proverbs 18:3 )
We all know them.
Those who answer before listening to all the facts. Those who ask the unasked for questions. Those who give the unasked for advice, those who simply do not understand or even try to. Those who know all the answers.
To listen before answering is an art, something to be learnt and practised.
On Saturday I sat amongst about three hundred women of various ages. They were all gathered in one place for the same purpose, to raise funds for Teddyland Daycare at the Baby Therapy Centre where I have been working for more years than I care to tell. As I looked around me, I wondered how many unlistened to stories hid behind the smiling faces, the happy buzz of voices and the laughter.
Through the years many many parents and their babies with special needs walked through our doors for the first time. Stress and anxiety visible in their faces. Sometimes anger is the uppermost emotion of the day, at other times fear and despair for the future reigns. Sometimes denial and disbelief.
Those: This can’t be happening to me feelings.
What do they need most of all?
Someone to listen before answering. Someone to listen with their heart. Someone to listen without advice. Someone to just be there. Someone to practise the art of listening.
Through the years I learnt that as professionals we need to listen to parents. After all they are the ones who go home and spend 24 hours a day with their child. They know their child as we don’t, they live with their child.
To listen is an act of kindness and healing, it is a choice we make, a choice to give the other time. Time to voice and express feelings no matter how bad the feelings without neccessarily needing the solutions. Solutions often follow if feelings have been expressed and listened to.
I know professionals are trained to try and fix the problem. To look at the child objectively, to diagnose and to treat.
Do we stand back and consider the effect the problem have on the person, the family, the marriage, the interpersonal relationships of those around the unfortunate one? Do we consider how much more effective our treatment would be if the parents and other family members find themselves in place of reasonable emotional peace? I say reasonable emotional peace for I realise that living with and caring for a child with special needs is an ongoing and never ending struggle.
Do we waste time and money if a treatment session was spent listening and allowing a parent to voice feelings, to cry, to be angry,even to blame us the professionals? I don’t think so, I think it is time and money wisely spent for an emotionally well parent brings up an emotionally well child.
To all us professionals out there ( and note I say us as I include myself) .
Let us learn to listen before answering,
As our cleaning lady once said: Let us not talk into another’s mouth, for how can we know that which is in another’s mouth?