“ While waiting in line to pay condolences to a dear friend who just lost her beloved mother, I was able to self reflect and prepare my words carefully. I rehearsed in my head what to say to the children and husband who were mourning.
“As I approached the family I listened as others shared sympathetic remarks. And then a woman, with her very present mother, reached the grieving family and asked ‘how are you doing?’ Before receiving a response she blurted out, ‘this is heartbreaking! I know exactly how you feel right now!’
As I watched my dear friend’s face, fall it hit me. To truly hear, we need to make a conscious decision to put the speaker ahead of ourselves, our preferences, and our thoughts. By not listening, and projecting her own perception of empathy, a well intended condolence transformed into a hurtful interaction. We do not need to ‘know how someone is feeling,’, and acting as we do can be quite insulting.
“ As I embraced my friend and her father, my well planned words slipped away. This was not the time for a scripted response, but to listen with my heart.”