Know better. Do better.


She swiped the tears from her eyes and glared at her partner in frustration.

“You’re not listening to me. I’m telling you that I KNOW I sound ridiculous. I’m telling you that I don’t expect you to understand what I’m feeling. I just need you to let me feel it.

As suddenly as a downpour ceases, his understanding clicked into place. Forgotten were the defensive statements on his lips as he gathered her into his arms, said he was sorry and then held her wordlessly. He felt like an idiot for not realizing sooner that this was what she needed. To be heard, without judgment or criticism.

How we communicate makes every bit of a difference in how we are understood, yes. But how we listen to one another can mean the difference between a catastrophic wound or a moment of clarity in a relationship. So often, we are guilty of paying minimal amounts of attention to the words being spoken, while eagerly waiting for our turn to respond with our own thoughts. It’s a type of surface involvement and one that diminishes the significance and value of the other person’s expression. It was especially noticeable living up North, where it seemed in the frantic pace of one-upmanship that the art of letting someone actually finish a sentence has become defunct.  More accurately, it was a sprint to see who could interrupt the speaker first, in both business and in everyday life. But day after day, I seemed to be the only one who noticed or cared.

Even though I may be in the minority of those who notice, I don’t believe I’m alone in the struggle with mastering the skill. And this skill… this art form, indeed… is called empathy. Because in the madness of today’s world, how foreign it has become to place your needs and cares behind those of another. To look with an open mind and heart, past the words you hear (or don’t hear) and into the meaning or reasons behind them. To stop checking your phone every five seconds and focus on the person in front of you. To notice when someone is not okay, though their brave smile may say otherwise. And to do for others when you yourself are stretched at the seams.

I’ve had some jolting realizations lately, on both sides of this tarnished coin. But the most I can do is be gentle with myself and remember to always try to be better. To do better for others, as so many have done better for me. And rather than fighting so hard to make my voice heard, remember that sometimes mine is not the voice that needs to shine through.




I’m linking up this week with my good friend Kiki’s Not So (Small) Stories. She’s pretty amazing, both as a person and a writer, and I’m grateful to know her.


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Know better. Do better.

13 Responses

  1. “To be heard, without judgement or criticism.” Those are powerful words and a reminder that I needed. I like how you’ve taken the receiving end of the words theme and made me think about how often I pull out my phone as opposed to listen with empathy. We all want to be heard–but we have to be willing to hear others.

    Anita Ojeda March 7, 2014 at 7:01 am #
    • Thank you, Anita. Appreciate your kind words and understanding. :)

      50Peach March 7, 2014 at 8:49 am #
  2. It’s so important to remember this, and you’re right, it often gets lost in the fray. Have a great weekend!

    Stacie March 7, 2014 at 11:30 am #
    • It DOES get lost in the fray, all too easily. Hope you had a great weekend, too!

      50Peach March 9, 2014 at 10:16 pm #
  3. “How we listen to one another can mean the difference between a catastrophic wound or a moment of clarity in a relationship.” This is an important line…so true.

    Emily @ Light and Loveliness March 7, 2014 at 12:57 pm #
    • I didn’t realize how true until that moment where you do it RIGHT… and can’t stop thinking about how big it was. Hence, this post. :)

      50Peach March 9, 2014 at 10:17 pm #
  4. I love how you started this post with a scenario that has played out often in my marriage. I am so thankful for a husband who has been willing to look past my words to the meaning behind them as you so beautifully stated.
    I’m a Northern girl and as such, familiar with this fast paced world that you speak of. I have also learned that it only takes one person to genuinely care about another for the world to slow down. So, keep being that kind of person. And yes- be gentle with yourself just as you seek to be gentle with others. We are all on a journey- the Maya Angelou quote is so perfect! Great post!

    Becky Daye March 8, 2014 at 10:32 am #
    • Aw, Becky. Thank you. It gives me hope that you’ve experienced this in your marriage, as we are just getting started! My fiance is really amazing about getting it, even more than I. He’s such a good man. :) We ARE all on a journey, or as I like to say, “I’m still a work in progress.”. Thanks for reading!

      50Peach March 9, 2014 at 10:19 pm #
  5. I loved reading this, and especially the quote. I collect them. March 9, 2014 at 9:56 pm #
    • Thanks, Elle. Lovely to know you’re a fellow quote collector. My Pinterest is ripe with them. I should go check out yours, too! :)

      50Peach March 9, 2014 at 10:20 pm #
  6. Wow, thanks. Sorry it took me a while to get to all the posts. But I love this, and of course it’s so relatable. Have had that conversation SO many times. It’s a journey!

    Katie March 10, 2014 at 6:09 pm #
  7. Loved this and needed the reminder this week about communication. For REALS. Even in the south we have this problem. :) This was a great read on language and I’m so glad you joined the link. I think the way you started this post with a scene and conversation really drew the readers in!

    Kirsten Oliphant March 10, 2014 at 11:36 pm #
  1. Not So (Small) Stories: Sixth Edition - Kirsten Oliphant - March 11, 2014

    […] hook can be dropping the reader right in the middle of a scene (my technique in this post) like Peach from 50Peach did in last week’s link-up. There were tears and almost immediate dialogue, creating a sense […]

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