Bosses, supervisors, co-workers, coaches, and mentors need to listen more and give advice and commands less. This is a poem that expresses this belief.
Please, just listen.
When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving advice,
you have not done what I asked.
When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me
why I shouldn't feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do
something to solve my problem,
you have failed me, strange as that may seem.
Listen! All I asked was that you listen,
not talk, or do... just hear.
Advice is cheap: twenty-five cents will get you both
Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper.
And I can do that myself. I'm not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.
When you do something for me that I can and need to do
for myself, you contribute to my fear and inadequacy.
But when you accept, as a simple fact, that I do feel
no matter how irrational, then I can quit trying to
convince you and get about the business of
understanding what's behind this irrational feeling.
And, when that's clear, the answers are obvious and I don't
need advice. Irrational feelings make sense when we
understand what's behind them.
Please listen and just hear me, and if you want to talk wait
a minute for your turn, and I'll listen to you.
Many versions of this poem can be found on the Web, sometimes attributed to Ray Houghton (Teen Times, Nov/Dec 1979) and sometimes to “Anonymous”.