I have been struggling how to say all of the things that have been going through my head about the #MeToo movement, the Kavanaugh hearings, and how a large number of women in our everyday lives are living in fear of us, men.
So, after many starts and stops, I have landed on this:
SHUT-UP and LISTEN
Just shut up. Stop talking. Stop telling women how they feel or should feel. Stop telling women what they should do. Just stop.
Try listening. Do you know how to listen? I mean really listen? When you are listening, you think about the words that the other person is saying. You consider them. You leave space in the conversation for the other person or people to fully say what they have to say. You DON’T wait breathlessly for a small break to say what you want to say.
You sit there. You take in what they say and how they say it. You observe their demeanor. Then, when they stop talking… you shut up. Instead of talking, take time to consider what they just said and what emotion is being placed upon it. Once you’re done considering it…shut up. That is all that you need to do.
Now for the hardest part (for me, anyway). If they are telling you a problem, do not try to fix it unless they specifically ask for your help. If they ask for your help, ask them how they would like you to help.
If there is one key thing that I have learned in 45 years, it is that I have no idea what it is like to be you. And you have no idea what it is like to be anyone else. Period. Do not judge. You don’t know their story. You should try to see the world through their eyes but NEVER question or doubt that their thoughts, their fears, their dreams, their hopes, their joy, and their pain are not real or worthy of your compassion and respect.
If you stop talking so much and really listen, you may be surprised what you learn. You will see that the world is way more diverse in thoughts than you could have ever imagined. You may even understand yourself better.
So, to summarize: SHUT UP! LISTEN!