We've all been there. Ruby Ann from next door (or your colloquial version of her) starts into her reasoning for having called the police on her grandson-in-law — the one with a tattoo that she has "never had a good feeling about". And you realize that you've heard this story already.
It could be that Ruby Ann talks to you over the fence because she needs a listening ear, a sounding board or a voice of reason. She may consider it essential to vent before she goes postal.
Could it be that she thinks you have heavenly ties and is confiding in you so she doesn't have to go to confessional this Sunday? Either which way, there are times when you are going to have to take one for team humanity.
Thank goodness for people who are selfless and compassionate, who place others needs above their own. What a priceless thing it is to actually care about one other, to be empathetic to their predicament, to establish a connection between a stranger's personal experience and one's own life.
"We can all make a difference in the lives of others in need...," said writer and humanitarian Miya Yamanouchi "because it is the most simple of gestures that make the most significant of differences."
Is all this is warm fuzzy stuff too mature for you?
Did your eyes gloss over reading the last few paragraphs? Then listen up.
There will be a time in the life of every narcissist that will require one to give a hoot, or at least one will need to adopt an appearance of giving a hoot.
Sometimes a serious face combined with holding your hand to your mouth will serve in place of paying attention. Most times, however, more complex action is necessary.
Get on your iPad
While your co-worker is telling you about her heart problems, say that you are going to google "cardiomyopathy". Ask her how to spell it. Then tell her to go on with her story while you "look it up". Add an "Uh huh" or two and you will have a free five minutes on Facebook. This is all for naught unless you learn about:
Say after me, "Um hum". There are several acceptable variations, such as uh huh, ooh, yeah, and ahhhh, but the standard "um hum" will give the most plausible appearance that you are listening, and, by association, that you give the aforementioned hoot.
This is sorta like Peter Pan's thinking of happy thoughts. It induces a smile, which is good if someone is telling you about his vacation or how smart her grandkids are. However, if he is talking about his recent bout with Bursitis, do not think of happy things. Instead, think about how concerned you would be if you came home to dog puke.
by doing something just for you after you have had to sit through your nephew's piano recital. Take yourself bowling or sit in one of those massage chairs at the mall. Exfoliate. Hit things with a hammer. Sing along to The Sound of Music. If it helps you through the moment, picture how good it will feel if you were to hot glue shut the lid to the Steinway Bubba is playing on.
Eat a treat
This is for experienced listeners only. As Aunt Edna begins to elaborate on the measurable comparisons of her last three husbands, you say "I have popsicles in the freezer. Do you want one?" Say this as you are on your way to the kitchen. Whether she wants one or not, get one for yourself. Get two. Anyone can pay attention for the time it takes to eat two popsicles.
how funny it would be to clip a microphone on Grandma and broadcast her denture story during a nature program featuring emperor penguins of the Antarctic.
Now, Grandma doesn't really need to tell you about her new teeth that only pinch when she eats cannoli. However, paying attention to her will..., get this..., help you. Little by little, story by story, you will become one of those selfless people who care.
Priest and author John Joseph Powell said"It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being."
At least the rumor is that Powell said this. Who knows if anyone was really listening.