Sometimes my ego likes to create these injustices. It can be a tricky little bastard. Therefore it will create little offenses. But then if I become conscious of these proceedings, I can shift my perspectives. So at work when I caught myself thinking, ‘Pam never talks to me. Maybe she can’t relate to me.’ Then I think 1. Stop making assumptions, you don’t know what anyone else is thinking or feeling. 2. Why are you waiting again? Why not be the initiator? SHIFT. Shift from a defense to an open stance. Breathe. Let it go. Talk to her.
Now with that being said, I truly prefer listening over talking. So I start asking questions. Open ended questions. Questions that easily lead into stories. Ah, stories. When Pam’s energy picks up, and I see the excitement and enthusiasm on her face, as she goes into a story about California, I am reminded of the beauty of storytelling. What a beautiful gift (opportunity) we can give. To let someone tell us a story. Their story. Even better, that we can LISTEN. I mean really listen. People laugh when I tell them I practice listening, but I’ve spent years practicing. I want people to know I hear them. I go back to the Thoreau quote:
“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”
Don’t you like when you feel heard. I do. Then let us listen. Make eye contact. Shining, enthralled eye contact. Let our facial expressions and body language follow what they’re saying. Let them finish. As their enthusiasm builds, let your enthusiasm build. Join them in the journey they are taking you on.
My dad used to do this in Colorado (and he still does it with my nephews and people). When we would sit down to dinner, we would end by telling story. I loved to sit there and prompt him to tell me about high school in the 70’s or epic rock concerts (Aerosmith and Black Sabbath). Watching as he got lost in a memory. What a wonderful thing to witness and experience. Watch as they remember. As their face turns to joy.
I watched him do this with clients. Often times they got a little surprised. What? No. I don’t have any stories. They’d get into a bit of a panic. Taken off guard. But then I realize we all have stories. We all are living a story. We all have stories of struggle and striving. We all have adventure stories. We all have love stories. We all have funny stories. We just don’t always tell them. But story telling brings me back to the oneness. In stories we connect to one another. We can see ourselves. We can relate.
Tell me. Tell me a story.