I asked my mom how to converse with people who have far more
experience than I do. She said, “Brilliant people need ordinary people
like me to listen to them. Sometimes, I ask questions that provoke
some thinking on their part. Call it the yin and yang of conversation.
You can’t all be brilliant. You can’t all be talkative.”
I’ve received a number of compliments on my listening skills. It’s
rather odd to think about that. I’ve been asked to sit up front in a
presentation because I’m an enthusiastic listener, complimented on my
ability to include people in conversation and help them feel at ease,
thanked for helping people relax and express their thoughts… I want
to play to my strengths. I want to be an even better listener and
conversationalist and host.
I see listening as a way of drawing people out. I’ve experienced that
before, shaping a conversation to bring people in. I feel distinctly
uncomfortable when people are left out of conversations. I like giving
people the opportunity to show different aspects of themselves. I also
enjoy the dynamics of groups because people bring out such fascinating
aspects in others.
I’m lucky that I got to practice this so much at home. I loved
bringing my mom into conversations with my friends, knowing that she
loves discussions and that she and my friends would get along well.
I’m thrilled to hear that even though I’m no longer part of their
day-to-day lives, that link endures.
Maybe I do have value, then, as someone who listens and keeps stories
and remembers and perhaps – from time to time – has something to add.
Not much, yet, but eventually…
One of my mentors in the company also had insights to share:
Some people can’t pass up a blank space in media without wanting to fill it
in with their thoughts. Partially to create and partially to preserve a bit
That’s one value a student holds – especially one who presents a vast canvas
that is well prepared for all the content and texture that’s out there.
I am a canvas for conversations. Fill me with ideas and thoughts. I’ll
remember them and share them with others.
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