Impressed recently about this idea, I have realized that we don’t often give others a chance to share their “moment” without others (or myself) wanting to share a similar experience or story. Something that happened to us recently has us really reflecting and being much more observant of letting others share what is important to them without topping their story or telling our own unless they ask.
Upon being asked how we were, Joe shared that I (Cindi) had just gotten out of the hospital and shared in 2 sentences how critical I was in the ICU -going in for one reason and other things popping up. Without missing a beat, nor asking a question or showing any interest, they shared about a friend who went into the hospital for something and died of something unrelated. It helped us to realize some things we should be aware of when others share something with us:
- Others (outside our closer circles) probably don’t really care and thus their own story will come to mind and trumps ours (we didn’t know this persons’ friend, so how was this story pertinent in the moment?)
- Their story was obviously more important or they would have asked about ours (not a question asked nor a concern shown except, “get better soon”.)
- Their “death” story of their friend didn’t encourage our journey!
- The “can you top this” attitude can leave one feeling unheard and invisible. (It did us.)
So how did we handle it? We said not another word, listened to the story and commented on it, sharing our condolences on the loss, and went on our way. It didn’t leave us feeling bad but it gave us a good chuckle and most importantly the good lesson to not do the same to others in the midst of what they are sharing; especially in critical and serious situations. The important thing is what we learned so we might handle what we hear from others in the future in a better way that would honor them and their story. Here are a few things we observed and learned to apply in our future conversations:
- Don’t make it all about “me, myself, and I.”
- Allow others to share without one-upping them
- Allow others to share their full thoughts and experiences without jumping in and without sharing something we think connects to their story! Just…..
- Listen well to experience their joy, sadness, loss, challenge, victory, excitement, gain, vacation experience, difficulty, etc. and then ask questions about it. Really seek to understand and jump into what they are sharing because it is important to them.
- Verbally walk with them through their feelings or story.
- If we think of a story that goes with theirs or even one we think is better….be quiet! Let them have their moment.
- Don’t share another or a better story. Live in theirs and enjoy it. It can even be fun to keep your story quiet – like a little secret. (They went to Paris? You did, too? Let them share. Maybe they’ll ask if you have traveled there, and if not, just enjoy their travel story!)
- Never dismiss their story. It is important to them.
- Try not to interrupt.
- Ask questions. Ask the kind of questions you would want to be asked of you if you were telling the story.
Your friend shares about their special needs child? You are listening to a story of your friend who is a caregiver and the surgery the person they care for just had? Your friend just took their family to a special camp and had a great experience????
Phil. 2:3-5, “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for our own personal interests, but also for the interest of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s do this and care about others, their story, and give them “their moment!”
Dr. Joe and Cindi Ferrini share their newest book: Love All-Ways: Embracing Marriage Together on the Special Needs Journey (order at www.cindiferrini.com). They are authors, speakers, and bloggers for several blogging sites on marriage, family and special needs. They spoke nationally for FamilyLife Weekend To Remember Marriage Get-a-Ways for 20 years, authored *Unexpected Journey – When Special Needs Change our Course, and have been interviewed on Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, Janet Parshall at “In the Market”, Chris Brooks of “Equipped” and various other radio and television venues. Connect with them at:
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