The Importance of Hearing People's Stories

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August 10, 2015
I am not a good listener. 

I admit that. It's definitely one of my weaknesses. Someone can be telling me their deep thoughts and I'll be thinking about what I want for lunch. It's bad, I know. 

A lot of times, I don't even realize what I'm missing out on. I assume everyone is just like me and that no one has anything new to say. But we all know that's not true. 

This past week, I've been working on training some new staff members so that the shop isn't short-staffed when I leave later this week. And I really did not want to do that. I have spent years figuring out how to do my job well and though it's crazy hard sometimes, I love my job. I'm good at it. I don't like feeling like my years of experience can be condensed into a few short training sessions with new staff members.

Unfortunately, I probably let that attitude show a little bit. I tried to hide it, but these two new ladies might have seen right through me. I didn't want them there. 

But then last night, I spent some time talking with one of the new ladies. She's older. She's well-educated. So why is she taking a temporary job at an ice cream shop? As it turns out, this woman has had a roller coaster of a few years. She spent her whole life in a certain group of people and a few years ago, realized that everything she had based her life on was wrong. But she courageously cut ties with those people...and lost everything in the process. 

Her story is not mine to tell, but I more want to share how hearing her story affected me. I realized that (of course!), she was not at the shop to make more work for me or undermine my work. Of course. She was only trying to make ends meet. 

By hearing her story, I was able to break outside my selfish little bubble and have new compassion for people in my life. Her story gave me so much hope and inspired me to live as courageously as she is, following what I know to be true even if it costs me everything I have. 

Have you ever had a time when hearing someone's story made you treat them differently? Made you different? 

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