I was watching a TikTok the other day where the person was summarizing something like the top 5 complaints women have of men. (I’m remembering poorly and paraphrasing to boot, but unfortunately TikTok makes it very difficult to go back to what you’ve viewed in the past.)
One item is something I’ve heard before, and thought on a great deal.
Men want to fix things.
Women just want to be heard.
Yes, it’s a generalization and not applicable in every case, but as a rule of thumb, my experience is that it’s not far wrong.
We’re all poor listeners to begin with, no matter who we are, no matter what the situation. We’re listening to respond, rather than listening to understand.
And, absolutely, if someone presents me with a problem, my reaction is to want to fix it. I want the problem to go away. I’m not trying to invalidate the problem or the feelings behind it. I want to root out the cause and Make The Problem Go Away.
My gut reaction is that’s how I can add value. That’s how I make things better.
That’s how I help.
That’s hard to put aside. And yet, it’s important we be able to do so, and do something else instead.
Sometimes listening is all you need.
Sometimes just listening to someone — really listening with all your heart and mind — can do more good than any attempt to fix anything.
It’s still difficult for me to understand how the problem can be any better if the problem remains; if it’s not been fixed.
And yet, that’s the case.
Not every problem is fixable, and not every fixable problem should be addressed.
But listening. Letting someone vent, explain, discuss, rant, explore, whatever … letting them feel validated in the face of whatever problem they’re facing is often exactly the right thing to do.
No matter who you, or they, are.
Even if it goes against your inner nature. Develop the skill.