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”.

 

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