I realize that sometimes I’m a complainer.
I also realize that I’m a woman, meaning that sometimes the way I handle whatever happens to be going on in my life is to talk about it. It’s why my friends and family get diatribes on what so-and-so said at work, why that hurt my feelings, how I felt slighted, what the mechanic said was wrong with the car, my headache, whatever happens to be falling apart in my house this time, or whatever relationship in my life is most confusing or confounding at the moment.
But here’s the important thing I need you to know: most of the time, I don’t want you to fix the problem. I just want you to listen.
I don’t expect or even really want you to tell me what to do, how I could make the situation better, or outline the steps I need to take to fix the masonry under my bay window. I just want you to listen, to be my companion in the middle of the mess, to walk through whatever it is—major or decidedly minor—alongside me. I’ll ask for advice if I need it and if you give it to me in the middle of the moment, when all I really want is someone to vent my frustrations to, your advice, necessary and good as it is, will probably fall on deaf ears. Or annoy me.
Often, this problem arises as a male/female difference, but that’s not always true.
So, when I come to you with some problem in the near future, before you start telling me what to do, how to act, or what next steps I should take, please, please, please just take some time to listen. It’s probably really what I want and/or need anyway.
And guys, think about this when you talk to the women in your lives. They might just want a listening ear, not a repairman.