A friend of mine told me a story recently that I thought would be great to share. It shows that sometimes the best gift we can give someone is our undivided attention.
I had a doctor’s appointment the other day that I just have to tell you about!
Of course, I was in a rush. It was during the workday and I had a LOT on my plate that day. The exterior waiting room was full — which made me think ‘Great, looks like I’m in for an unusually long wait today.’ Each socially distanced chair was taken with the exception of one, putting me directly across from an elderly gentleman.
After taking my seat, I quickly pulled out my phone and decided to at least correspond with work a bit via Skype, check some emails and get some “work” done while waiting. That is, until this man commented on the little 3-year-old that got called back to the next open exam room with her mother. ‘I have a granddaughter just like that!’ he said with a big smile, hand resting on the cane in front of him. ‘I wish I had that energy!’ I looked up, and nodding my head in agreement said ‘Yes, it goes fast doesn’t it?’
Then I found myself obligated into this real-life conversation, while leaving the virtual one with my co-worker on the other end of the phone hanging. Every ounce of me wanted to look down and at least tell her I’d talk to her later when I was back at my desk, but I just couldn’t look away from this older gentleman. I felt like that would be so rude.
He went on to tell me all about his grandchildren. He told me about the lighthouse he built on his property and why he loves lighthouses so much. How could I even LOOK DOWN at my phone. Even that simple body language would say ‘My phone is more important than what you are saying.’
Within a matter of seconds I went from feeling irritated about being pulled away from work, to realizing what a gift I could give him simply by making eye contact, listening and asking him questions. I learned that he built the lighthouse with the help of his son and that it’s not quite finished. He has other grandchildren, too and they love to visit. He’s divorced and lives alone.
At this point I was realizing it was going to be way too long before I got back to the exam room and I really needed to just reschedule my appointment and leave. However, there is no way I was going to get up and LEAVE during this conversation because I didn’t want him to think I was leaving because of him. So we talked until he got called back.
After I got out to my car, I realized that listening is a true gift we can give to people. When everyone has their headphones on and their eyes on their phone, it’s nice to enjoy the solitude of a personal, one-on-one conversation with a stranger who needs the company.
I had such a nice conversation with my friend about the simple gift of listening. Perhaps this is one of the most rewarding aspects of home care — being there to listen and engage in conversation with clients. It’s not necessarily the errands, or medication management, or the household help that the client treasures. It’s the companionship and conversation that happens while performing these services. And we couldn’t be more honored to be part of their lives.
See where you can give the gift of listening today. It doesn’t cost you a dime and you both get something out of it.
At The Nursing Team, we love bringing JOY™ to people through home care.