The Gift that can Change Somebody’s Life

During my years as a college prof, students would often drop by my office to talk.  Some had questions about assignments, while others were wondering about what courses to take next semester. 

But usually, those conversations turned into life conversations.  They were negotiating the real world away from their parents, and trying to figure it out.  They just needed someone they trusted to bounce ideas around with.

It was one of the best parts of the job.

ListeningI loved those conversations.  But I was also amazed at the impact those conversations had.

I didn’t realize it at the time.  But they were listening.

They would share their thoughts, their dreams, their challenges.  They would talk about . . . well, just stuff.

I almost never had answers.  I just had ears. 

I felt like I should have better advice – better things to say.  I should have been able to draw deeply from my well of experience and wisdom, delivering pearls of insight that would blow then away.

The well usually felt pretty dry.

So I just listened.  And whenever possible, I would simply affirm something I had noticed about them that was an area of strength.

Surprisingly, they often had no idea they had that strength.  It simply never occurred to them.

To me, it was a casual conversation.

To them, it was a turning point. 

People are starved to have someone listen to them.  It tells them they have value, when they don’t value themselves.

People are starved to have someone believe in them.  If they don’t believe in themselves, they borrow that belief from us – until it becomes their own.

It’s a gift we can give that – pardon the cliché – “keeps on giving.”

Teachers do it.  Parents can do it.  Grandparents can do it.  Friends can do it.

You can do it.

Do it.

You’ll change someone’s life.


Thoughts? (Leave a comment)





Senior Consultant at FranklinCovey; Speaker, Author of 5 books - including "People Can't Drive You Crazy If You Don't Give Them the Keys," "I Wish He Had Come With Instructions," and "Dealing With the Elephant in the Room." (See Book page)

  • Paul Schliep

    As a young pastor I felt I had to have all the answers. As time went on I discovered that for many they already had the answer. They needed to be heard so they could discover that answer by thinking out loud. There are times to give the answer. Just not as many times as we assume.

    • Wise words, my friend — comes from experience.

  • Lynn Erickson-Simonson

    Mike – how true that is! As a counselor, I can tell you that people just want to be heard. They want a safe place to share their innermost thoughts, to be listened to and valued as a person who is here on this earth. If you take the time to listen – you too will be blessed! Thanks for sharing….and for being my professor who listened to me back in the day!