Listening is the Hard — Hearing is Even Harder

Recently I had a friend ask me if I could talk to her husband about losing weight.   “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” was my response.  “Do you want me to talk to him or does he want me to talk to him?”

My friend, who loves and adores her husband, is interested in his losing weight.  She confessed that he does not see the same man in the mirror that she does.  Jump back friend.  I would never bring up the subject of losing weight to anyone else.  I am happy to answer someone’s questions, but not initiate the conversation.

I know from personal experience that the only person who can make you want to lose weight is the person who is putting the food in your mouth.  Losing weight is a brain exercise first; only when your brain is interested in doing it will it happen.

On the other side of things, if someone is telling you something you don’t want to hear stop and consider how hard it was for them to do it.

Many years ago when Russ and I were working in London and had terrible sleep schedules due to too many transatlantic flights we had a next-door neighbor who had a garage without a door, on the bedroom side of our house.  These neighbors who were used to us not being home much had gotten a puppy and they kept him tied up in the garage at night.

When we were home we were kept awake by this poor lonely puppy howling and barking in the echo chamber that was my neighbors’ garage.  At first I thought that it would be a short-lived problem and eventually the puppy would learn to sleep alone, but that did not happen.

One night as I lay there I thought surely these people know their dog barks all night, but no.  When I finally could not take it anymore I got out of bed, put my trench coat on over my nightgown and in the pouring rain went over to my neighbor’s house.

When they came to the door I apologized for the late visit, although it was only 9:00 at night it was 3:00 in the morning to me, which was very late.  I said I was sure they did not know that their puppy’s barking echoed so loudly into our bedroom and asked if they could bring the dog inside.  I will never forget the wife’s response, “Our dog does not bark.”  Now this couple was elderly, but I had never seen them with any hearing aids that could be removed at night to ignore a barking dog.

I was shocked that my practically apologetic request had been met with an accusation of my being a liar.  In my jet lagged and not most polished state I responded, “Lady, why in the world would I come over here at this hour in my nightgown in the pouring rain and make up a story about your dog?  How would I even know you had a dog?  Your dog barks and by leaving in your open garage it amplifies his crying.”

Her husband apologized and brought the dog inside and never left him to sleep in the garage again.  The wife has never spoken to me since despite my saying hello to her every time I see her.

What was in this for me if her dog did not really bark?  Why would I risk bad neighborly relations if it were not true?  If someone tells you something you don’t really like, stop and consider what it is it for them to tell you.  Drop your defenses and try and listen to the truth.

I am not advocating that anyone runs out and tells your loved ones they need to lose weight or control their dog, but if someone gives you a signal, perhaps a lot more subtly than I told my neighbor, that you have a problem, think about it.  They risk something in telling you, but if you can really hear it, maybe your brain can take one step closer to trying to solve it.

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