My father used to say, “Son, you can’t listen with your mouth open.” He accused me of loving the sound of my own voice, but to me it was more that my mind was filled with information I wanted to share.
In college I took a counseling course, and the professor stressed empathy. He said we would do more good if we listened for feelings rather than gave advice. I thought this was bull and made an appointment to tell him so.
“Try an experiment,” he said. “Talk to someone with the one goal of listening to their heart. Then ask them how they feel.”
I decided to try it on my wife. I asked about her problems and just let her talk. It felt strange to offer no input and ask no questions. I just reflected back to her what I sensed she was feeling. After what was, for me, an exhausting discussion, I asked how she felt.
“I felt loved,” she replied.
I signed up for another course with that professor.
— Wade M. Nye, “Readers Write About: Saying Too Much,” The Sun