I recently ended up at an intimate jazz show where I met the friend of someone important to me for the first time.
Within five minutes of meeting, he was opening his heart to me about moving in with his girlfriend, and how he was finally feeling ready and secure in love for the first time in his life.
I didn’t prompt this. But I also wasn’t surprised—this happens to me a lot. Like, five times a week a lot.
Whether it’s in person, through an Instagram comment, or via my website, strangers often feel drawn to open up to me. I have had many messages from readers saying, “Thank you for your recent article, I’ve never told anyone this, but…” Boom. Life story. Hidden trauma. Always big, heavy, serious stuff.
I can handle it. I have done the work on my end, and continue to do the work, to be able to show up and hold space for people without taking their emotions on—it’s part of the reason I decided to start life coaching.
What is it that makes people open up to me?
On our way back from the show, I turned to my person and asked about his friend. “Is he always like this? Does he always open up so quickly?” His response: “Not really; that’s you. You really listen to people, so they feel like they can keep opening up and keep talking. No one listens anymore.”
I listen to listen. Most people listen to respond.
I am not saying that I have always been this way, or that I think I am superior to others—this is a skill I have honed since my shy, introverted teenage years. It was painful for me to speak, but I was always comfortable listening. I cared about people, but was too shy to offer advice, so I would listen and hold space.
As a collective, we are starving for this. How many times have you gotten into a conversation with someone and felt that they were just waiting for you to finish making your point so they could make theirs? How many times have people started to interrupt you—and stopped, because they’re not a**holes—only to speak the moment you close your mouth?
How often do we really take the time to listen to understand, rather than listen to respond?
We are all here seeking connection, support, and love. Listen to the people you care about, the people around you—you might be surprised by the beautiful things they have to say.
Author: Annabelle Blythe
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Nicole Cameron