Its all about the socks

I have a habit that I never really think about or plan, but I often find myself putting on odd socks in a morning. Perhaps it’s laziness but honestly I simply don’t think about it. I know for some this is a real irritant but for me it just isn’t a thing. After they are washed and dry I do try to match them up but often its then best I can do to get striped ones together with other striped ones and spots with spots.


If you go searching the web you can find things like this:

Crazy sock wearers refuse to be dictated by social standards, and other people, who aren’t equipped with the same audacity to wear robot-patterned socks, respect them for it. Scientists report that wearing a wacky pair of socks helps us feel braver and more unpredictable, leading us to uncharted waters and, in turn, greater success in life…

Honestly, I have no idea about such things, what I do know is that it just isn’t something important to me to consider.

Well, surprisingly this actually links with the subject of the last few days of listening. Go with me here.

As we have discussed, listening is an active decision we make and that listening is about the engaging 5 aspects of listening ears, mind, heart, eyes and undivided attention.

However, as I put on my colourful yet mismatched socks this morning I was struck by how that stood out to me as incongruent with my day ahead. You see today I started work with someone and I knew that it was going to be incredibly important to present myself as a blank canvas. To become as neutral as possible. This is a really important aspect of the one to one work I do. We have to give opportunity to the speaker to be free to express whatever they want without there being any level of association with someone or somewhere else or, most importantly to be distracted.

Immediately, my socks seemed to scream of personality and individualism. Which I don’t have a problem with but could ultimately be distracting in this setting.

We really have to consider how we approach those we work with by helping to create an environment that is about them. That doesn’t draw the conversation away from their story. As a counsellor, I endeavour to remain a blank canvas as I try to encourage and support a client to express their emotions, thoughts and feelings in an open manner. I observe and digest the information the client provides, and then work on guiding the client to make progressive positive steps towards making changes.

Of course this is relevant in any supportive, listening relationship. The moment we make it about our experience or about us expressing our personality is the moment we stop listening to their experience or story.

The challenge and balance for me however, is that I also believe that it is what i bring to the relationship that makes it unique. I allow my personality to shape my work while holding all these things in balance. This is a tricky line to walk but one that I try to do minute by minute and hour by hour in each relationship I am in and all this before we have even started to actually communicate and reflect and help the client move forward. I guess that is one reason why this work can be so physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting.

So next time you’re about to work in a one to one relationship with someone. Don’t forget your socks.

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