I have a friend who came to me recently wanting my advice. We met up for a drink and she talked me through the situation she found herself in. I nodded as she spoke, asked questions were appropriate but mostly I just listened.
She gave me a potted history of what had led up to the latest drama, where she was at now, what the problem was and what the possible solutions were. I interjected very little letting her give full vent to her feelings. I got the distinct impression she had been putting a lid on her feelings until she met me and so, like a pressure cooker that has had the lid firmly clamped on for a little too long, once the pressure was released and she was in a safe environment where she could talk without being judged, she rattled away, letting off all that pent up emotion.
I have had a lot of experience of the ups and downs of life but I am no wiser or better informed than the next person. I am as capable of stuffing up as everyone else. I could offer no dazzling insight or straightforward solution just a dollop of common sense. But as it happened, I didn’t even need to give that because my friend, as her discourse was winding down, reached that conclusion herself without any prompting from me.
Looking far happier by the end of our time together than she had at the beginning, my friend gave me a hug. “I knew you’d be the right person to talk to about this. You always give good advice.” I felt flattered by her comments but thoroughly undeserving of them. I had hardly offered any advice during our time together, good or otherwise. I’d barely got a word in.
Sometimes all you have to do is listen.