Inspiration Station April 2012-The People Whisperer

April 16, 2012

“Why you so quiet?”

“Gee you’re quiet.”

“Rosalind? She’s the quiet one. Don’t fuck with her. You know what they say about quiet people–you can’t tell when they’re gonna snap.”

According to my mother, I didn’t really start talking until almost 3 years old. Family tale has it some one asked why I didn’t talk, and I said, “I don’t have anything to say.” At that moment Mom  knew I  would be  way ahead of my schoolmates.

My ability to keep silent and listen serves me well.  I’ve come to realize people love to hear themselves instead of others. Particularly people in power, or people who think they have it.  Years of listening to patients’ stories and not interrupting them allowed them to trust me when the came in to the office.

Some days it’s tested. Once in a while my ears are tired of the whining around me, the constant questions, and the loud idiots on the bus conducting what should be private conversations.  Trust me, NO ONE wants to know whether your man wants you in pink or purple lingerie. (True conversation-turned my stomach.)

Once I’m home, I want – no -need quiet. Except for my mother, I don’t talk to anyone else much during the week.  Once she’s in bed, and all is quiet, I do stuff like write blogs. Not even the radio is turned on until just before bedtime, to ease me to sleep.

However, when someone near and dear needs to talk-I listen with not just my ears, but with my heart.  Sometimes it’s a 5 minute chat on the sidewalk, sometimes it’s over dinner.

One person is afraid of therapists, but has to let someone know their grief.

I become the therapist.

Another struggles with career choices, and needs encouragement.

I become the cheerleader/sounding board.

Another just wants to gossip and share some laughs.

I’m down with that too.

The tricky part is knowing what to say to which person. While listening is my art, speaking is not. One person can’t be told of another’s problems because they may gossip.

Several have said the magic words, “Just between us.” Which means what they tell me must be set into a compartment in my head.

As I said, listening is an art.

As for speaking, it’s improved with the years.  Now I focus on the person I’m with, and tell them my opinion, and tuck things into the compartment I have for them.

Gossip? Not on my agenda any more. My circle of friends is not that big, and who needs the reputation anyhow? I am learning  to voice my dreams and wishes to the right people, and keep the laughs with the other people.

Are those I listen to listening to me? I’m not sure. I would hope so. I think so.


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