I have been in sales most of my life and one thing I learned is that, facts tell and stories sell. I was thinking about this today as I was walking around the hot rod show in Laguna Beach. This show had classic cars from the early 1900's to cars that were created in a shop with 2 types of cars welded together to make a new fun machine.
The man who created this car did it 20 years ago as a project with his teen aged son. He wanted to get his sons nose out of his computer and suggested making a car with him that when he turned 16 he could drive. They welded 2 Volkswagen bugs together, one that had a smashed front end and one that had a smashed back end. Never mind that the cars were not the same year or style. It was just a fun father-son project. The kid came out with the knowledge of how to build a car and the father got his son out of the house for some bonding time. Sure, the car was very cool, but the story makes it even cooler.
I started looking at all the cars and people as doors to stories. Given a chance, wouldn't we be better people if we knew more stories? I think we would be less judgmental and more forgiving if we knew the story behind the door. My mother was an amazing woman who believed in people like no one I have yet to meet. She got angry with me one day when I was about 14 because I commented how bitchy the woman at the register in the grocery store had been behaving. My mother told me sternly that people just don't act like that I should never judge. She went on to say that you never know what happened to that cashier before she left for work. Maybe she got in a fight with her husband or she was worried about her child. Well at 14 that little lecture just made me mad but as an adult I understand what she meant. We all have our boiling points and when we do boil we misbehave, it is hard not to. Not many of us misbehave for the soul purpose of making people mad.
Getting to know peoples story is not difficult really. We just need to be patient and ask questions. Some of us will start pouring our history out while others are more guarded or shy. I think we need to do this more because we live in a time when we are so busy that we don't take time for making new friends. Life seems to be on a superficial level but it is up to us to get a little deeper and care a little more. Nothing feels better than sharing your story with someone who is willing to listen, ask a few questions an make a few comments. It is what Steven Covey calls, listening to understand.
I think listening is an art form. You are either good at it or not. Myself, I am not a great listener, I am always trying to be better though. Each opportunity I get to listen to a story, I say to myself, "this is time to really hear what is being said, stop thinking and listen." It may sound crazy but it works for me and the outcome is always enlightening.