By nature, I’m a problem solver. This can be good, but it can also be a hindrance, at times. I’m learning that its best to guide a person toward discovering their own solutions to their problems instead of offering my solutions.
In the past, when someone complained to me about their situation, I would shift into problem-solving mode. My motive was good. I cared about their misery and wanted to help them. Eventually, I realized that they were depending on me for guidance instead of the Lord. So, I had to change my approach. Even when they ask for my opinion, now, I’m cautious about giving it. Instead, I try to ask questions about how they’re feeling and thinking.
Reflective listening just re-states what they’re saying. If someone is complaining about a roommate, for example, I might say, “So, what I hear you saying is that when they…you feel… its affect on you is…” Then I might ask questions like: “What have you tried to do about it? Did it work? Why not? What do you think the solution is? Why is that difficult for you?”
The problem with giving advice is:
- I could be wrong.
- They may not be ready to hear the solution.
- If they follow my advice and things don’t turn out the way they wanted, they might blame me, and our relationship could suffer as a result.
God knows best how to work with a person on their fears, insecurities, false beliefs, etc. There’s no quick fix when it comes to working through those things. Peace of mind comes when we find the solution that our conscience is comfortable with. I can’t be, and don’t want to be, someone else’s conscience. My role is to pray for them, listen to them, and gently guide them toward their own conclusions.