By Steve Goodier
Two psychiatrists met at their 20th college reunion. One is
vibrant, while the other looks withered and worried. "So what's your secret?"
the older looking psychiatrist asked. "Listening to other people's problems
every day, all day long, for years on end, has made an old man of me."
"So," replies the younger-looking one, "who listens?"
Unfortunately, that is too often a problem -- who listens?
I received a letter from a woman who lives in New York. She
explained that her 22-year-old electrician son went to Manhattan a few days
after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He wanted to volunteer his time,
but discovered that his skills were not needed.
Joe may have helped in a way he never anticipated, for on the
train home, he sat across from a weary firefighter covered in what appeared to
be "ground zero" dirt and debris. Though he could see bits of rock in the man's
hair and noticed that his hands were bloody, what shocked the young man most was
the look in the firefighter's eyes. They appeared lifeless and dull.
Then the man began to talk and Joe listened. He talked about
retrieving a shoe with a foot inside. Joe listened. He talked about cleaning
debris from a face, then discovering that this person's body was gone. Joe
listened. And as his listened, he did not flinch. He did not react in disgust.
He did not judge. He did not interrupt. He just listened.
He listened as the firefighter lamented about the carnage
everywhere and about shoes...there were so many shoes, he said.
Through it all Joe quietly held the man's attention and
listened, which is exactly what the rescue worker needed at that moment. And
because he listened, the man continued to speak. He talked his pain out, as much
as possible. And Joe, for that time at least, helped him carry his unbelievably
That day Joe did not give blood, nor did he use his electrical
skills to help with the relief effort. But he did one of the most important
things a human can do for another. He gave a stunned and disheartened man his
whole attention, and thereby immeasurably assisted in the work of setting the
Mary Lou Casey says, "What people really need is a good
listening-to." Now more than ever.
Publisher@LifeSupportSystem.com is a professional speaker, consultant and
numerous books. Visit his site for more information, or to sign up for his FREE
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