Twenty years ago, when we were moving into a new place, a young man helped us out. The son of one of my wife’s friends, he was 14 or 15 years old and just out of a residential drug rehab program.
He and I sat in our rented moving truck driving down the highway, where he told stories of his rehabilitation. Part of the recovery process is self-awareness and he was willing to share, as had been the custom in his stay.
He told stories of addiction, mistakes, inpatient temptations, and adventures very few of us will ever have, much less in our early teens. We made an instant connection. He had more insight than any other young man I’d ever met. He should. He paid the price for it!
So I enjoyed listening to his stories a great deal. Then he stopped talking. We just had nothing more to say to each other.
A few awkward moments of silence went by. Then he told me more stories of his rehabilitation with the same enthusiasm. I listen eagerly, partly to prevent another awkward silence until we left the truck and started moving furniture.
He had a story to tell, but I was the object of his listening. He could have been talking to anyone – or anything.
Years later I still remember that ride in the truck very clearly. It affected me.
But truth be told, there was no real interaction between us. I’m sure he doesn’t remember me.
I don’t blame him for not having developed his listening skills. After all, he was only a boy, and one who went through a harrowing experience at that.
But TRUE interactions…the kinds that strengthen, nurture, enrich and educate both parties…the kinds where lifelong friendships are made…these come from talking AND listening.
And for those of us who are in the marketing or sales business at any level, or coaching, training, developing leaders, developing income earners, it’s the most valuable and overlooked skill there is.
We forget – the value of listening – how it puts us immediately in a position of strength, control, loving power…
Because it gives people what they crave: a chance to be heard, a chance to matter.
That young man wanted to matter more than anything else in the world. When he didn’t find a way to matter he called out for attention in the most destructive of ways.
And he medicated his pain.
Look at what you’re capable of. Look at the worlds you can shape, the power you can unleash, the hurt you can heal.
People will flock to you…so long as your listening is genuine. You automatically distinguish yourself from the others without the patience and inner strength to give freely of yourself.
Relationships are created. Energy is exchanged.
Tell your story. That is valuable.
Be open to the stories of others. That is priceless.