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Let’s Talk. Or Maybe Not.

 It’s often been said I am a good listener. I suppose, then, I am. It’s a skill most likely begun in childhood as my father was very much of the opinion that children should be seen and not heard. 

And I remember being told during my teacher training that an effective practitioner listens twice as much as they talk, and to remember we had two ears and one mouth and they should be used in that ratio. I don’t think that lesson got through to all teachers, though. Not in my experience. 

I’ve done a couple of counselling skills courses. You have to do a lot of listening in those because people with problems don’t like it if you suddenly announce, ‘You’ve got problems? Let me tell you some of MINE....’ 

Which is why I’m glad I never became a qualified counsellor, because these days, I haven’t got much patience for listening to the problems of others without wanting to butt in and say, ‘For the love of chocolate, get a GRIP.’ No empathy hormones left, you see. I’m being honest here. I hasten to add though that I shall ALWAYS listen with compassion to genuine angst, but I do have a finely tuned b*llsh*t radar and I’m not afraid to use it. 

Today at work, every single one of our attending service users, bless them, wanted to talk to me. Non-stop. Like for every single minute of the six and a half hours I was there. That’s 390 minutes incessant chatter. Not that I counted. The sun was shining, the atmosphere was cheery. We were busy, we were having fun. But by the end of the day, I was like...

I didn’t get cross or testy, though. I am, if nothing else, a consummate professional. I like our service users - they are funny, engaging, lovely people. But my goodness they can talk.

At one point I went to contemplate my navel for 5 minutes in the compost toilet, just to hear the sound of silence. And if you’ve ever availed yourself of a compost toilet you will know that 5 minutes in its presence is 4 minutes and 15 seconds too long. 

I am home now. Cosied up in the reading corner of the Zen Den. There’s a puddle of sunshine on the carpet in front of me, charmingly decorated by a couple of silent cats. The sun is still shining like it has forgotten it is September and has rushed back to fill in the missing sunshine gaps of July and August. 

And can you hear that? No. Neither can I....


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