Listening is an Act of Love by Al Gilbert

Updated: Oct 17, 2020

The following is a blog post that I wrote in 2009 during the last recession. Now that history has repeated itself, I think it’s worth reposting:

With the national rate of unemployment hovering around 10%, it is statistically possible that one of ten people reading this is currently unemployed, underemployed, or self employed. If you're one of the nine other fortunate readers, this is for you too.

Having experienced a statistical reduction in force (RIF) more than once, I always found it curiously sobering that losing one's job often equated to losing corporate friends related to that job. Sure, there were always the expected assurances that “we'll stay in touch,” as steps echoed down the hallway for the last time; but those “how are you?” calls quickly faded as the RIF survivors turned their attention to shouldering the extra work created by the recently departed, and the departed became busy looking for the next job. Much like a death in the family, once the funeral is over, and the last respects paid, people get on with their lives.

“Listening is an act of love,” is a title credited to the non-profit StoryCorp organization I borrow the title here to make the point that everyone, particularly those in career transition, can benefit from the gift of listening that only corporate friends can give. If you are working full time, and you can reach out to former co-workers to lend a listening ear, please do so.

To paraphrase my wife, “you don't have to fix anything, just listen.” The gift of listening costs as little as a phone call and takes as little as fifteen minutes. Little things, like listening, can make a big difference – that's how love works.

The good news today, compared to 11 years ago, is that that collaboration technology from Linkedin to Zoom, has made it easier for former colleagues to stay in touch and support each other. Based on the current WFH culture, we are more comfortable conversing with each other visibly as well as audibly via web-based meetings. Also, I am heartened to see more and more of the following messages on Linkedin, as we support each other through this difficult period: “If you've recently been laid off or furloughed and we've worked together in the past, don't hesitate to get in touch and let me know how I can help.”

I ask that members take the above quote one step further. In addition to your willingness to accept calls, be willing to proactively reach out. It’s how SVBTA Cares.

Al Gilbert

Al Gilbert is the Chief Listening Officer at Advisory Options

Business and personal choices can benefit from a second opinion, another set of eyes, or feedback from a different messenger. As Advisory Options’ Chief Listening Officer, I start with empathetic listening coupled with helping participants see issues and choices from a different perspective. Services include goal setting, resume writing, communication editing, business plan feedback, and presentation coaching. To learn more, call 415-516-0359 for a complimentary half-hour assessment to get started.

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