Thursday, July 26, 2007

Listen Like You Care

If you work anywhere around people, chances are that today you are going to have over 100 conversations. That may seem like a lot, but in fact, dozens will occur in elevators, in cars, on the sidewalk, or on the way somewhere and we pay many, if not most of our conversations very little mind. Yesterday was no exception. On my way walking to complete another task, I ran into a customer who was going through their last month's charges with our adminstration controller, and 2 of our receptionists.

Our admin controller patiently went through the details of said bill, when out it came. She was trying to have the charges reversed on her husband's credit card and then pay cash because her psycologically abusive husband hates himself and takes it out on everyone around him; which means her a great deal of the time.

A simple dispute over charges (normally a 5 minute discussion at most) turned into half an hour of..

"I don't know what to do... how will I provide for our 2 children if I leave him?"

"why does he have to be so negative?"

"if only he could see what his life could be like if he weren't such an asshole all the time"

"he hates me because I'm a good mom to our kids and his parents weren't to him"

All of those little conversations we have that we don't think about, we have while on autopilot. That is the steering option of choice for the rat race. I guarantee the 4 employees who were present for these events instantly shifted back into manual drive, and were impacted by this encounter.

While she got an ear first of all, and then questions, opinions and options second... that is not the point. The point is, of the 100 or so people we come into contact with every day, we have an opportunity to impact their lives for the better. If we are stuck on autoplilot, they go about their problems on their own (which we all do too much of).

The point of this entry today is that we all complain of the state of the world today, and how society has gotten so selfish. The fact is, stories like this one can and do (and should) happen every day. If they were to happen more often, we would strengthen our sense of community, belonging, and love for one another.

This conversation took only 2 things; timing, and a sense of purpose on the part of the listener. You will be the listener most of the time if we all choose to be less selfish, because the thing people like to talk about the most... is themselves. Having said that, if you enter as many converations as you can with a sense of purpose as a listener, you will create more opportunities to impact others.

...and you will be repaid for these selfless little acts in more ways than you know; because everyone wants to repay those in their debt, and by helping more people, you create more allies both known and unknown who will be there to help when you are the one with the problem, or in need of opportunity.

it really is that simple, so get talking, and more importantly, listening.

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