Monday Mitzvahs: Listening and Mirroring

In last week’s mitzvah, I talked about validation.  This week let’s discuss my other favorite word listening.  When I write about listening and validation, as opposed to giving advice, I am aware that this is an age old difference between men and women.  Generally speaking, men like to fix things, and so they give advice.  Women complain that they just want to be listened to.

There is a funny video (less then 2  minutes long) about a man’s view of this classic dilemma.  If you haven’t seen it, go ahead and watch it now.  I’ll wait for you.

It’s Not About The Nail by Jason Headley

As this funny video shows, there are circumstances where advice and problem solving are valuable.  and let’s be honest, women love to give advice also. Advice seems to be our cultural default. We all want to help, and we think we’re not helping if we just listen and say something like, “That would really bother me too.” Yet as I explained last week, there are times when validation is much more powerful than advice.

One of the problems with giving advice is sometime the problem is not obvious as in the nail.  As soon as we think we understand the problem, we start thinking of advice.  We might still be quiet but we are definitely not listening.  I think we are even more prone to do this with teens and children.

Mirroring Reflection by PixelAnarchy Public Domain Pixabay
Mirroring Reflection by PixelAnarchy Public Domain Pixabay

A way to avoid this is a technique called mirroring.  It’s simple, repeat back in your own words what you think the other person said.  You may feel foolish because after all, you are certain you know the problem and the solution.  Just take out the nail right?  But if you try this a few times you will see that often you are wrong.  Recently I asked my husband to do something for me.  He said yes and that was all.  I asked, “Don’t you want to know why?”

He looked at me like I was asking an overly simple question.  “No.  I know why. You want me to do it because . . .”

His understanding of my motivation was very thoughtful, insightful and WRONG.  I’m sure I have done the same to him, and I know I have done it to my children.  But hey, I’m trying to do better.

So here’s your mitzvah challenge for the day:  Listen and mirror before you give advice–or even better–give validation!

Have a great Monday!

P.S. Sorry this post was “late”.  I know you were all anxiously waiting <grin>, but it is still Monday after all.

Monday Mitzvahs were inspired by Linda Cohen’s book 1,000 Mitzvahs

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  1. The video was too cute. I love your mitzvah. I’m going to try the listen and mirror method. Sounds sensible to me!

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