The following is part of an email I sent to Adrienne this morning. Since it started to look like a blog post I asked her if I could publish it, with additions. She agreed.
I have been writing a post in my head this morning about giving advice. Your post yesterday The Trouble with Advice has got me going.
I have also been thinking about listening and how one obviously has ones views and opinions bubbling up while somebody is talking, and hearing ones own thoughts needs to be in the picture also. Further, there is the wider listening. The sound-scape you could call it. Traffic, the hard drive of the computer, cooking sounds, the toilet being flushed – these are in the background, less in ones direct awareness but there non the less. Yes, listening in the sense of listening to what somebody is saying is specific. However my sense is that to really listen/be there, with all of ones senses, the sound-scape is there also. Ones own mind being very much part of the sound-scape to take account of. To own and not give away rashly, if at all.
So….the edge one keeps approaching when listening to somebody (say she is telling you about her day at work) is: allowing the sound-scape yet not rushing to respond when it’s not needed right now, and refraining from saying something like ‘you’ve got to be JOKING’ when she comes out with something bonkers. Those are the times when it’s obvious to keep ones mouth shut…and continue to listen and ask questions when in the sort of position you (Adrienne) are in professionally.
For the most part (this is my view) most people are not actually asking for feedback, advice or comment – or what ever. They, as you say, asking for and benefiting from simply being listened to. Further, when somebody is overtly asking for advice they are not necessarily asking you to tell them, chapter and verse how to live their lives better or how to discipline their children or animals! Advice can be over done especially between friends and even more especially within families! An example from this very morning: I was being waved off by my cousin and family with whom I’d stayed the night. And there I was letting slip several sentences of jolly advice – it’s the process not the product and never mind you saving the world, take care of yourself…! How horrible is that?
The context of the conversation is a good guide. Forums are an advice ‘fest’, because that’s what they are set up for. However the comment section of Jade is not a forum so generally people don’t take it upon themselves to offer advice to other commenter’s, or to me. Which is how I prefer comments to be. Some blogs do have this element but here not. So why is that? For now as a preview, and to remind me what it is I’m going to write about tomorrow, I’ve a thought on what Jade might possibly have become for a few people. A Buddhist temple! If this is so I’ll feel free to respond to comments again, with…spiritual encouragement.