We’ve all done it. Someone is telling you a story. Their story sparks a memory of something that happened to you. It happens to be a good story, a great one in fact, with a fantastic punchline. And so, quivering with anticipation, we half-listen to our friend as we try to gauge the best time to jump into the conversation. This is going to be good, and my friend will really appreciate my story. My story. My story.
What happens, though, if their story is merely a prelude to something deeper? What if that person had been thinking about this moment for weeks and had just mustered up the courage to confide in you? What if your fantastic story shattered that small token of courage that they had just begun to extend in your direction? What if they just needed you to listen, to be silent, to receive what they are saying and hold it, treasure it, and not throw it back at them coated in your own glossy remembrance?
I know I do this to my kids, I know I have done it to my friends, and It has certainly been done to me. Lively conversation and storytelling is essential to our lives – it is the way that we share, the way we communicate, and the way that we build friendships. But sometimes, sometimes, we just need to listen.