Listen Up

Nothing makes me sweat quite like the words, “Adam, tell me about yourself.” I am not great at talking about myself.

So I can’t say I was thrilled when I read today’s writing prompt for the Your Turn Challenge: Teach us something that you do well.

What do I do well? Better yet, what do I do well that I am comfortable talking about.

I guess I could write about how I am organized. Maybe you would like me to explain how both my socks and my apps are arranged by color.

Perhaps I could wow you with details of how my money is all placed into my wallet with all of the presidents looking forward and in numerical order.

Sound like something you’d be interest in?

I did think so.

The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to avoid the topic altogether. I considered writing about something different, but I could not shake that little Seth Godin sitting on my shoulder telling me to deal with the fear, and ship.

I started thinking about why I am uncomfortable talking about myself and I came up with a couple of different answers: (1) a fear of hubris and (2) I like stories.

The first one is pretty easy to explain. I never want to come off as cocky or smug. One way I can avoid arrogance is to simply avoid talking about myself in general.

The benefit of not wanting to talk about myself is that I have become a good listener. When I am in a conversation, the other person gets much more time to talk about themselves. I enjoy hearing people’s stories and most people enjoy having someone to tell their story to.

While I am a good listener, that doesn’t automatically make me a good hearer. My younger brother will attest that I often mistake things he actually said for something that I think I heard. Occasionally, I think my ears like to play tricks and make up their own story before reporting the details to my brain.

If I were in a game of telephone, there is a decent chance that I would mess it up.

But enough about what I am bad at. This post is supposed to be about something I do well.

Listening is something I do well.

And I’ve learned how to transition from average hearer to great listener. And you don’t have to dislike talking about yourself.

You just need to do two things. (1) Quit worrying about yourself and what you do well (if only for a few minutes) & (2) pay attention to the person right in front of you.




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