Last updated: December 2022
One of the best gifts we can give, as a friend or as a perfect stranger, is to listen.
To listen without bias or judgment, with compassion and empathy, is how we can help one another, and no gift is greater than helping another person, as I have learned. Not everyone can do it naturally, and neither is it a skill readily learned for some.
Listening to others
How well one can be a good listener is like so much else: it’s subjective. Having the ability to have empathy as part of your character goes a long way when we choose to take on the work of providing support for others, and empathy can be developed and improved on, like most things in life, but that requires commitment.
Another gift is acceptance, and being a good listener, allows us to realize that we cannot fix others, and most people understand that thing inherently. Can we be a force in providing the help, and tools, that allow others to empower themselves? Yes, but a fine line to walk, experience tells me.
People can be opinionated at times, and we all have witnessed how badly things can turn when we make assumptions or presume to know something about another person based on our bias and little else. Why we engage others in this way is not always clear but should be avoided, and we all have the capacity to at the least contain it.
Helping others without judgment
We can learn how to avoid judgments that hinder respectful discourse through reflection and positive introspection. Is it easy? It depends on the person, but it may be just what the doctor ordered, as we say.
Is it a gift bestowed on us, or is it a skill acquired that we could learn? Both can happen in the best ways if we try to be aware of when we show tendencies to judge with too little consideration or thought to how what we say and do impact others with our words and deeds.
Admittedly I have not always demonstrated perfect judgment when interacting with peers. Did I learn ways to better listen and communicate with people looking for care, support, and understanding?
Yes, through education and experience, acknowledging there is always room for improvement in how one delivers support and care. Some of our peers are absolute masters at conveying good information and support, and I see them as natural in the role. Still, even natural helpers can benefit from training and knowledge.
It is not everyone’s natural skill, and even people with great natural innate skills can use some training, and I recognized this in my journey as a peer educator and support worker.
Some of you are a gift to humanity and are natural at supporting our peers and others. Some skills can be learned with the right training and time spent, and about anyone can learn how best to help others, and if it interests you, look at ways you too can be a helper, and it can help you.
What a great gift to all.