Taking Time To Listen

When was the last time you let a friend finish their story? (Like… really finish their story?)

As generally well-meaning humans, we want to connect with other humans. When we realize we have experiences in common, it’s often exciting (and easiest) to point it out in the moment. This can be a tool that builds empathy between two individuals…

… but not always.

Sometimes when we interrupt someone mid-story to draw (perceived) similarities between our two experiences, we lose the opportunity to hear the rest of what they have to share. Further, even if we attempt to bring their train of thought back on track, they may end up “sparing us the details,” for fear that their experience is in fact very similar to our own, or that we’ll disagree with something they have to say, or that we may think they’re wasting our time explaining something we obviously already fully understand.

Most often, it’s best to let others finish their thoughts. If they’re particularly excited about something that’s happened in their life, we should consider withholding our particular experiences in the moment, however similar we think they may be, and ask them additional questions to draw out the intricacies of their unique perspective.

We may all be surprised at the depth and difference of other folks‘ experiences (even if, on the surface, their experience seems very similar our own).