The art of listening | Community columns


I recently had the honor of attending a meeting where important people from Charleston, West Virginia wanted to hear from local service providers on Marion County’s greatest needs. It sounded good, so I went. The people from these people’s offices greeted us and showed us where to sit. We sat down and four Charleston government and social service leaders stepped out.

And they all seemed to take a deep breath, then talked for 45 minutes about what they were doing to help Marion County. And they told us why we had to support the initiatives they were working on. Then they thanked us for coming to speak with them and they left.

I sat there for a few moments as the people around me started talking about the things these people had been talking about and one by one we walked out of the room. And I thought to myself I hope that’s not how my kids felt after I told them we needed to talk about something and then I did all the talking and they got together with them. information they wanted to share but I didn’t give them the chance.

The next three weeks I started looking around as I attended various meetings and the meetings were all the same. Someone came into the room, gave some information, thanked us for coming, and then they left.

I have had the privilege of working in a mental hospital for years and have seen very similar things happen. The patients sat down with a group of therapists. They would introduce themselves and discuss how they would help people who came to the hospital for various areas of help. The doctor or therapist would get a minimum of information, present their thoughts on the issues, and leave the group.

Until the day the unit I was working on got a new supervisor. He instructed staff to bring all patients into the group room. And once we got them there, he did two things. One was he introduced himself and the other was he asked them “how are you?” Then he fell silent. I kept waiting for him to interrupt as patient after patient just talked about how they were doing, how their families were dealing with their issues and what they expected to be there. .

The new supervisor nodded, took notes, smiled when someone said something funny, and for two hours, people who came for help were asked to explain how they were doing. . It was a turning point for me. And to this day, I try, I don’t always succeed, but I try to listen more than to speak. I try to allow people who usually have to listen to others to give them a chance to express their thoughts and ideas. And continually I find that it helps me get to know them and it helps them because, for a lot of them, these conversations give them a chance to be heard.

I recently heard about a place that not only welcomes people who need advice, but also opens its doors to first responders who need to relax and just be heard. Can you imagine how awesome it is for them? Live lives saving people, working with people under the most difficult circumstances and keeping that going day in and day out.

Well, last week at our monthly community meeting where local service providers meet, interact with each other, and keep everyone up to date with what’s going on in their part of Marion County, we caught up with the Dr Judith Black, President of the Appalachian Life Enrichment Counseling Center, Fairmont.

They do an amazing job of helping people. And if you need someone to listen to you, I encourage you to call them today. Their number is 681-404-6869. And their address is 207 Fairmont Ave.

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