If you listen, people tell you a lot about themselves.
They want to be heard.
Some days ago at the grocery store, I could tell the clerk was haggard. I had seen her before and she was carrying a heavy burden, unkempt hair, eyes hiding behind steamy glasses.
She asked about my plans for Christmas and I replied “nice, quiet, with my husband. Plan to have lamb and pie..
and you?” I asked.
In the few minutes we had at the checkout lane I found out a lot about her.
Her husband had died just 2 years ago.
Her brother had contracted hepatitis from another aspiring chef at culinary school and felt it morally wrong for him to continue.
“I’m so sorry to hear about your husband. Was it recent?.” I said.
“2 years ago”.
“Oh my goodness, VERY recent (for someone so young). Oh, that’s so hard.” I said validating her grief.
We also briefly discussed her brother.
I don’t think anyone had acknowledged that they heard her before.
“Thank you” she whimpered, looking up, then bagging the rest of my shop.
“And have a nice holiday!” She said, regaining composure.
Listening is the greatest gift we can give each other.
Some days, I’m better at it than others and that day, I was extra patient. Content. Centered.
In those few minutes, I’m not sure if feeling heard helped her.
But I hope so.