Growing up, my dad was known as the ‘what you’ve got to do guy.’ He always had solutions to offer. People came to him with problems and he’d give them great ideas. He didn’t hold space, he held forth.
So, when I got older, I adopted his habit of offering my friends and family solutions to problems they’d share.
And they HATED it.
They weren’t telling me problems they wanted me to solve.
They only wanted me to hold space for them and listen.
But I didn’t understand that what they needed me to do was hold space for them, not rush in to fix things for them.
I’ll still get in trouble with my kid from time to time because it’s hard to listen to struggles they’re having at school without wanting to give them advice on how to make it better.
But that’s not what they need.
They need me to hold space for them to share what they’re feeling.
They don’t need me to fix anything. Only bear witness.
That’s all I need to do to validate their experience.
The next time you’re hanging out with friends or family and you are tempted to offer an opinion or advice, stop and ask: Do you want my advice, or do you just want me to listen?
You might be surprised by their answer. Either way, it will help you hold space for what they need.
That’s your challenge.
Let me know how it goes by commenting below. And if you enjoyed this, please share it with a friend. 🙂
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