Emotional Intelligence | Main Page on Listening



If you want me to talk to you


1. If you want me to talk to you, don't shout my name, over and over when I am silent.

2. Don't shout in frustration. I don't want to talk to people who are shouting at me.

3. If you want me to talk to you, don't grab my arm and shake it.

4. If you want me to talk to you, don't get frustrated and feel impatient.

5. If you want me to talk to you, don't say "Why don't you talk to me?"

6. If you want me to talk to you, don't say, "Say something!"

7. If you want me to talk to you, don't try to move my head or say "Look at me!"

8. If you want me to talk to you, don't say, "What's wrong with you?"

9. If you want me to talk to you, don't feel rejected when I am silent. Be patient.

10. If you want me to talk to you, reach out and put your hand on me. Show me that you are there, waiting patiently. Give me time to speak when I am ready.

11. If you want me to talk to you, and I am able to tell you how I feel, don't give me a lecture about how "we all feel that way sometimes."

(I'm not like everyone else. I am not like anyone else. The reasons I feel the way I do are not the same reasons anyone else feels the way they do. If I tell you I feel alone and you say "We all feel alone sometimes, but ..." I may even start to hate you and never, ever want to talk to you again. Or I may walk away from you and never come back.)

12. If you want me to talk to you, don't ask me what I am thinking. Don't ask me what I am doing. Ask me how I am feeling.

13 If you want me to talk to you, don't invalidate me when I tell you how I am feeling.

14. If you want me to talk to you, don't act like you don't have much time to listen. Don't come into my van and leave the door partway open when you close it, as if you are ready to leave, or are afraid I will kidnap you or something or that you don't really want to be there with me. When you do this I feel untrusted. I don't want to talk to someone who doesn't trust me.

15. If you want me to talk to you, don't say, "I came here tonight to just listen to you and not give you advice, just like you told me, but you don't seem to want to talk." When you say this I feel blamed, disapproved of, lectured to.

16. If you want me to talk to you, don't tell me what I should do.

17. If you want me to talk to you, don't say, "Why don't you..."

18. If you want me to talk to you, try to figure out what I am feeling if I am unable to speak.

19. If you want me to talk to you, don't say "Don't do this to me."

20. If you want me to talk to you and I am so weak that I am down on the ground, don't stand above me and tell me to stand up.

21. If you want me to talk to you and I am crying, don't tell me to stop crying.


Added April 2008

22. Don't say something like "You can't expect everyone to...."

23. Don't say "Here we go again..."

24. Don't explain things by saying something like "That's because..." or "The thing is..."

24. Don't try to guess why someone did sometiing as a way of trying to explain, for example, "Maybe she .. or "Maybe it is because.."

25. Don't say Well, Steve, you have to understand." or "You need to understand.."

26. Don't tell me what I have to do, should do or need to do.

27. Don't deny things I am telling you.

If we are chatting don't "shout" at me with capital letters.

Don't threaten me either directly or indirectly.

Don't command me to do or feel the way you want me to.

If you feel defensive, tell me you feel defensive.

Don't lay guilt trips on me.

Don't ask attacking questions which drain my time and energy to answer.

Don't use something I tell you to turn people who want to help me, or who have been helping me, away from me.

Don't say things I have to try to decode.

Ask me how much I feel understood by you from zero to ten.

Don't label me or something I am doing, have done, am thinking about doing, planning to do, or want to do.

Don't give me advice unless I have asked you for it or you have asked me if I would like some.

Don't say "Well if you want to talk, you know where to find me."



The original file (first 22 items) was based on somethings that someone named Carol in Peru did recently, someone else named Manuel in Peru, someone named Esmeralda in Ecuador and someone named Gretchen in the United States. Interestingly, they were all raised by people who call themselves Catholics. (see listen10.htm)

S. Hein
December 31, 2004
Chiclayo, Peru

See also "When I feel sad, reach out to me"



When someone is hurting, don't say things like

Not everyone is as _____ as you (See story)

Maybe it is because.....

Have you ever considered...

Have you ever thought about....


Labeling me aka "Not everyone..."

Someone once told me "Not everyone is as callous as you". This was a small guilt trip about how I had distanced myself from my mother.

Giving me orders.

For me it doesn't work to give me orders when I am having trouble speaking. I have some examples above but here is one basic one I left off the list. This is something which happened to me this week here in Bulgaria. I called someone but was unable to speak. It might have partly been the way she answered the phone. She said "Hello Steven" in a tone of voice that sounded disapproving. I don't know if I would have been able to speak if I had heard a different tone of voice when she answered. If I would have heard a soft, loving"hey" as if she was happy to hear from me, it might have opened the gates to my feelings. Or if she would have said "Are you okay?" as soon as she realized I was having trouble speaking. But anyhow this is what happened.

First she said "Talk to me."

Then she waited a few seconds.

Then she said "Ok...." But it wasn't an accepting ok. I could here the disapproving, impatient tone of voice again.

As soon as she said it I was afraid she was going to hang up on me.

Then just a few seconds later she said"If you don't want to, then call me when you want to talk. Bye." Then she hung up. I am guessing It wasn't even twenty or thirty seconds. It hurts now to realize how unimportant I seemed to be to her. And how easily she could hang up. When I was younger, I might have done the same thing. I might have felt self-righteous about it. I might not have felt guilty or any empathy for the person I had just abandoned when they needed me. I might never have called them to see how they were feeling. I might never have apologized. I might never have realized what I had just done.

And even as recently as about two years ago I remember a time when I walked away from someone. But then I realized what I was doing and I felt bad. I went back and said "I don't feel good about walking away."

I care about the person who hung up on me. I care about her so much it brings tears to my eyes to think of how uneducated she is in terms of emotions. And how misguided she is and what bad examples she has seen in her life. It hurts me to think that she doesn't want to learn from me anymore. As I write this I don't know what is going to happen between us. It hurts me to think about the possibility that I have lost her. And that she has lost me. Or that we have stopped caring about each other and are only protecting ourselves now from more pain. She told me she felt alone before she met me. I also felt alone before I met her. How sad it would be if we went back to feeling alone because of her lack of skills and my traumatic past.

S. Hein
Feb 2, 2008
Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria