This New Year, make a caring resolution – Listen with compassion

This New Year, make a caring resolution – Listen with compassion

Veena Sethuraman

TedX Speaker, Head Learning & Development, InMobi


Yet another year, of the earth revolving around the sun, is coming towards its end.

As always, at this time of the year, people will start thinking of new year resolutions. Some would be executed; some would be forgotten in a few days, only to be remembered again at the beginning of the next new year. Some will change our lives; some will change others’ lives.

I enjoy the reflection during this time of the year. While this reflection can happen any time of the year, I do like the way people see the change in the calendar year with some sort of hope and positivity. There is something fascinating about the way we welcome the new year.

Friends share, if we care to listen

As I was reflecting this time, an intense moment of realization happened, related to an experience I have encountered recently.

In the last 2 weeks, I have had at least one person calling or meeting me every day; to share their sadness/pain regarding certain experiences they are going through in their current phase of life; And none of this was any therapy related client conversations. All these are people from my social/social media/professional circle. Almost all of them are not even in my close friends circle. But they allowed themselves to trust me, show their vulnerable side and chose to discuss their deepest emotions with me.

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Did they get solution to their problems by calling me? Definitely no, as that was never the intention of those calls. All they wanted was to share this with someone who wouldn’t judge them; who wouldn’t advise them; and more importantly, not see them as weak or incapable human beings.

All I did was just listen. In certain situations, I am not even sure whether I understood the pain in them, though I could only imagine how that pain would be. But, as I listened, they cried, they poured out, they picked up the broken pieces with courage and decided to put them back together for their own sake.

On hindsight, when I look at all these 12 conversations, I have had in the last 2 weeks, I am realizing, more than ever before, how important it is for us to be with our fellow humans now in a nurturing and powerful way.

Social Media – the mask that prevents listening

In the era of smiling faces and positive posts in social media, the real life could be extremely opposite. While I see a couple going through the most difficult phase of their life, I see how happy they are in their facebook account. I see someone going through severe depression in real life and this person could be the coolest person ever, if I were to go with his instagram account.

The more I see such incidents, the more I am realizing:

  • Probably, the only hope they are holding on to is the likes and comments they get in social media, because they can afford to be pretentious in the virtual world. Their real life is shattered beyond what they can explain; and if they need to survive there, they need some love from the virtual world.
  • This has led to people being more intolerant to the sadness, pain and vulnerability in real life. Virtual life is to have fun and entertainment. These are not applicable for real life.
  • Not every argument needs to be won. Similarly, not every conversation would need to be about us.

As I observe more and more people, I realize that, in a certain group, if someone is sharing their experience on something, most of us are tempted to respond by adding our perspective on what happened in our life around the point shared by the other person. We fall for this trap most of the time and then it becomes about us. We just seize the beautiful moment of the other person by making it about us.

Hence my resolution for the new year is about listening.

Resolve to listen

Listen with care; Listen with compassion. Let those moments be about the other person. Let the other person heal by your ability to listen. Let this experience enlighten your wisdom. If every human being decides to do this, we could make this world a much better place. So, are you game for this?

Wish you a very happy and caring new  year!

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Indira Rao

Well said!