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Many years ago I happened upon a poem by an anonymous author entitled 'You are not listening to me when...'.  The author outlines instances in which he/she feels they are not being listened to, writing the lines

"You are not listening to me when...

You do not care about me

You say you understand before you know me well enough

You have an answer for my problem before I've finished telling you what my problem is


You feel critical of my grammar, vocabulary or accent..."

The poem goes on to explain that

"You ARE listening to me when...

You come quietly into my world and allow me to be

You grasp my point of view even when it goes against your own sincere convictions


You allow me the dignity of making my own decisions, even though you think they may be wrong

You give me enough room to discover for myself what is going on"

(full text can be found at https://visionforlearning.co.uk/cfp/Listening Poem.pdf)

In a world where noise is constant - from both cars in the street and social media status updates on our mobile phones - the opportunity to be heard is perhaps more precious now than it has ever been.  Clients sometimes complain that they feel drowned out, not listened to or simply ignored.  The lines quoted above have stuck with me and are frequently brought to mind as I sit with a client in the counselling room.

Dr. Carl Rogers, the founder of the person-centred approach to psychotherapy, found during his time as a therapeutic counsellor that given the chance, people will pick their own way through their situation, finding out what is best for themselves.  He put the client firmly in the driving seat, as the expert on their own life and journey.  To be accepted for just what you are is a powerful experience, and can be very liberating.  There is a big difference between assuming you know what it's like to be in another person's shoes and taking the time to listen - very carefully - to gain insight into exactly how the other person is experiencing their situation.  As someone once pointed out, we have only one mouth, but we have two ears.  Perhaps people in general need to employ the latter more often than the former.

If you felt truly heard, and could be trusting enough to speak what is on your mind, what would you say?

Rob Oglesby MBACP (Accred) B.A. (Hons) BSc | Ashwood Therapy

Ashwood Therapy provides a discreet, confidential and professional online counselling service by encrypted video call, live instant messaging and secure email.  More details, including tips on wellbeing and information on current counselling session pricing, can be found at www.ashwoodtherapy.com

Listening Carefully?  Then I'll Begin

Listening Carefully? | Ashwood Therapy Wellbeing Blog