Do you have that one person you know who will offer you sound advice or give a listening ear to your latest crisis?  They always seem to have a perspective that either you haven’t thought of yet, or they help confirm that you are viewing the situation the correct way?

What happens when you open up about a situation and they just sit there offering no words of wisdom?  If you, like so many others, think they are uninterested or just don’t care, let me share with you a secret. The encourager does care, but sometimes they need a bit of encouragement of their own.

I know this because I have been there. I have been called an encourager.  I have people call, text or email me with things that are going on in their life.  They are looking for support, understanding, and even advice.

But what happens when the encourager has nothing really to offer.  What happens when you pour out your heart, and the response you get is a blank stare or a mere nod of the head.   Does it mean they don’t care or are tired of hearing about your problems?  Not at all and while it probably doesn’t often happen, because normally that is not the encouragers nature, it does happen.

I have had a rough year.

Who hasn’t right?  But sometimes situations and attitudes overwhelm me, and I sit and wonder, “Does anyone even notice?”

This week, I have felt I was at the end of my rope. The daily grind had taken its toll, and all I wanted to do was sit at home and hide from the rest of the world.

When you have days, weeks or months where you feel the world has just dumped on you, how do you recalibrate and turn yourself around?

Sometimes it takes a random act of kindness to give you the jump start you need.

This week, I, the encourager became the encouraged with such an act.

I was sitting at work, going through the mundaneness of the day, wondering how anyone could not notice that I was off. Maybe they did notice and just didn’t know how to offer help.

I was quiet (not normal for me), I was distant and just trying to get through the 9 hour day that was ahead of me so I could go home and shut the world away. A co-worker stopped by my office and put a tulip plant on my desk, reached over gave me a hug and said: “I just wanted to thank you for your support and encouragement last week.”

A customer had put this co-worker through the ringer and said some things that attacked her character and caused her some personal heartache. When I noticed she was upset, I merely went to her and told her that one person doesn’t define her.  I reminded her there are many other customers who sing her praises and when they come into the office, they only want her to handle their business needs.  I told her to concentrate on the many and not the voice of one.

While I felt I wasn’t doing anything special, looking back, I can see how it helped her through a tough time and even helped her have a nice weekend.

What she was unaware of, is I have been going through my own frustrations, a crossroads if you will. By this coworker coming in this week, giving me a plant, that I will most likely kill as I don’t have a green thumb, (I kill plastic plants at home, so this poor tulip will have its own battles ahead.) she took on the role of encourager. She helped me find a way to shift gears and focus on today and the tasks at hand. She made a difference in my day, which has made a difference in my week and helped me get back on track.

So the next time you seek advice from the person you go to and they don’t seem interested or lack the response you are used to, consider that they may be going through a rough patch of their own. Perhaps you can be the one to offer a shoulder, an ear or even a tulip plant.

But if they don’t have a green thumb like me, consider an artificial plant. It will probably survive longer and remind them how important they are in your life.

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