Years ago, my church decided to contact former members to find out why they’d left. Before starting the process, two church members went to Befriender’s for some intensive training on how to listen. When they returned, we who were on the committee to interview the former members spent about six months of weekly sessions to learn the proper way to accomplish the task.
All that to say that listening is far more than just a simple act. It seems to be an art and a science wrapped up tightly together. Anyone can do it. Few do it well. You see, the problem is that you need to ignore actions like talking, suggesting, interrupting, fixing, waiting for the next pause in the conversation so you can suggest, fix, or re-direct the flow of the conversation. For most of us, this is difficult. For some it’s impossible. It took our committee six months to get to the point where we could do nothing but listen and encourage the talker to say more, and to do it naturally.
In today’s world, everyone is promoting story – tell your story, tell your story – for better customer relations, better communities, better working conditions – the list goes on.
Think about it! If we all REALLY shared our stories, openly and honestly, within the proper circumstances, and with open minds, what a wonderful world it could be. If I knew you were hungry, I could do something about it. If you knew I was reeling from the loss of someone I loved, you might be able to help me find a way to cope.
If you were to say, “I believe this about that,” could we talk about your belief? It might give me a new way of seeing the world. Or it might open your eyes to a new, more satisfying solution.
And if we talked to each other individually about a situation, instead of just listening to someone else’s take on it, wouldn’t truth allow love into the picture, and love allow empathy to work its magic?
Ah! The power of story as a basis for...