Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Are You Listening?

Today at the office, a very distraught woman came in. This is somewhat unusual in my office. Land records aren't typically all that distressing. Someone else was helping her, but I could tell that it was escalating. I went over to see if I could diffuse whatever was brewing. She explained that she needed to get her home in her name only. Her husband had passed away quite awhile ago. (Yes, this can be distressing. I'm not referring to that piece.) She had a letter telling her that her husband's estate needed to be probated or she needed a Quit Claim Deed from each of his children. She was insistent that it all had to happen right away and kept repeating that she only had several days.

"Mam, I'm not sure where you are getting that you only have several days or you will lose your house."

"Right here." She pointed out a sentence.

I read it. "I think there has been some confusion. The letter says getting the deed in you name can happen several ways, not several days."

I tried to walk through the other points in the letter with her. But she was having none of it. She continued to insist that she only had several days or she would lose her house. In a rage, she cussed my colleague and I and left.

The whole thing saddened me because by not listening carefully she is causing herself a heap of heart ache and fear. Who wouldn't be fearful if they felt they might lose their home in days?

It got me to thinking. Are there times when I don't listen carefully? Are there times when I am so wound up that I confuse ways and days?

I know that I have and probably still do. However, it reminded me of something I've tried in conflict situations. When I know going into a situation that I might get side tracked or not see something clearly I write the points I want to make out on note cards. Then, every few cards I insert another note card with various bits of wisdom on it:

  • Listen before speaking
  • Think before you speak
  • Ask questions
  • You do not have to be RIGHT
It's actually helped me a lot. But maybe I need to make a mental note of some of those same things for everyday situations when I let the emotions of the moment runaway with me. The biggest one should always be. ARE YOU LISTENING?


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