Let me give you a little test question to see if this Wake Up Call is worth your time. Say someone starts telling you about one of their problems. How do you react? Do you begin to solve the problem in your mind so you can give them some solutions and help them out? Yes? Read on. Or, do you just sit and listen? You can skip this Wake Up Call-see you tomorrow.
For all of you problem solvers out there, I can tell you from experience that people don’t generally tell you their troubles in order to get solutions. That may surprise you greatly. You may be saying to yourself right now, “Naw, that can’t be right.” But think about it. Have you noticed that when you offer solutions, people often give you excuses about why those solutions will not work? Then they go right back to explaining the problem again. Strange, you think, and then you offer another solution which is also rejected.
Well then, you ask, why are they telling me about their problems? Because people want to be heard! Deep down, really heard. We each have a fundamental desire to be understood and to have someone simply listen to us. Talking it through is sometimes all that is needed in order to relieve the stress that the problem is generating.
When Job had his enormous troubles, three of his friends heard about it and they came to be with him. The Bible says; “When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:12-13). I know that later in the book of Job, the three friends made some mistakes, but here in the beginning I think they got it right.
The next time one of your friends starts telling you about a problem, try to resist immediately grabbing for your solution bag. If they are really coming to you for advice, they will eventually ask for it directly. In the meanwhile, your job is easier than you think: LISTEN.