Ever feel like all you do is listen? It’s mentally exhausting.
I don’t know if I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today or if I am just tired of listening but I’m struggling. I work with clients and have back to back meetings all day. I listen to my clients and my coworkers throughout the day.
I am a problem solver by nature so if someone comes to me with a problem, be it a client or coworker, I take it upon myself to find a solution. I listen, take notes and think about a strategy to solve the problem. It’s the way my brain works. I can’t change it. And even if I could, I’m hesitant to do so. Being a good listener has enabled me to get further in my career and in my personal life.
Unfortunately, the result of this is the mental toll that listening takes on me. If I am repeatedly hearing the same issues but unable to solve them, I am left feeling invaluable and to be honest, uncomfortable. Combine the listening required from my job with the fact that my husband is at a tough point in his career, my children always have something to say, and I am listening pretty much ALL day long. It is nonstop.
As a result, I’ve stopped talking as much as I used to. When I do speak, I am interrupted — both at work and at home. This makes me feel as if people don’t value my opinion. Why is it that I am a good listener but I am not worthy for people to listen to me?
Now that I am thinking about it, I started writing a couple months ago because of this very feeling. I needed to express my thoughts and had no audience to express them too.
I have a team at work that I feel strongly about helping. I find fulfillment in guiding them and appreciate the fact that I am contributing to their growth. However with a team comes more responsibility, many more problems to solve and even more mental exhaustion.
Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership. — Colin Powell
When considering the above quote, I realize that if I stop listening I am not staying true to myself. I’m compassionate by nature which lends me to be a problem solver. But, it’s not easy. Constantly solving problems and providing solutions results in a feeling that no one can solve mine.
I’m going to start using my problem solving skills on myself. I have a problem —the inability to share my problems with others due to always being there for them. Now I’m going to use my own strategy for helping other people with their problems in solving my own problem.
When I do feel the most mentally exhausted from listening?
When I hear things on every end — at work and at home and cannot find a solution. When I offer solutions and they are not heard, it feels like my time is wasted.
When problems can’t be solved, what do I do?
When I can’t solve problems, I internalize. I rack my brain for a solution. I present options. When the options are ignored, I struggle. I have such a need to fix things that finding out I don’t have a solution is disheartening.
What should I do if I’ve listened, offered options for consideration but still can’t solve the problem?
It’s funny that it’s taken my writing this down to realize what I’ve been doing wrong. When I hear problems and have offered solutions that are ignored, I get frustrated. I crave fixing so much that I can’t seem to understand sometimes people need to sort through their own issues.
If an issue is reported by a customer and you provide options for resolution but the customer does not take your recommendations, you are limited with what you can do. You’ve provided options, they need to consider and come back with their choice.
I need to take the same approach at home. If my husband is having an issue, I can give him options but then I need to sit back and allow him to determine his path to resolution. I can not and should not internalize my inability to solve someone else’s problem. All any of us can do is recommend solutions, the rest is up to the person, the client, or the coworker.
This story is unlike any other that I’ve written. I’m feeling better now. I’ve been able to use my problem solving strategy to solve my own problem. Sounds funny, doesn’t it? While it would seem inherent that I be able to do so, I haven’t been. It has taken writing this down for me to realize that I need to step back once I have provided options to allow for the other person to make a decision.
Thank you for reading. This is how valuable writing can be — I was easily able to express my issue and think through a solution. Maybe this is the solution for all the problems that I struggle with communicating. Funny how even the most simple ideas don’t come to mind until you sit down and write.