I’m Not One of Your Clients, Dad
Do you have a pity buddy?
A pity buddy is someone you can call when you are at your worst and they will simply listen. They won’t solve a problem unless you ask them to. They know better. They know their role. I didn’t at first. Now, however, as the father and stepfather of six girls, I am keenly aware of the difference between a conversation where your advice is welcome, and one where it’s not. I learned this during a chat with my youngest daughter, Madeline.
Madi has always been wise beyond her years. She was in high school and there was something going on at the time which was momentarily earth-shattering. I gave her my full attention and was completely present to the conversation. So far, so good. However, I made an error and learned a lesson when I asked her something like, “If you could back up and do it again, what would you do differently?”
The question is one of my favorites while coaching salespeople. It allows a rep to ponder the situation and gives him/her the chance to correct errors (fictionally anyway) and get it right next time. I felt it was perfect for the situation.
Madeline disagreed and replied, “I’m not one of your coaching clients, dad. There are times when I don’t want you to solve the problem. I just want you to listen.”
It wasn’t the first thing I learned from this daughter, but it was a pearl just the same.
We all need someone we can call and vent to. It’s nice to have a soft place to land when things aren’t going so well. Hearing supportive words and/or words of affirmation can do wonders.
Two words of advice here. First, get a pity buddy. Second, be one for others. A good one.
When you are the one who is down and you reach out, help your pity buddy help you by prefacing any comments with, “I just need you to listen.”
If the roles are reversed and you get called upon, heed my wise daughter’s advice with a clarifying question ahead of time: “Would you like me to comment or just listen?” Then, be okay with the answer.
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