The following occurred this past Sunday....
It was early in the morning and I was standing outside on my lawn. My dog was trying to decide where to make her deposit. I had just come back from my morning run so I was still in my gear looking a bit sweaty. OK, so this story isn’t starting out with such a lovely visual but stay with me….
While we were standing there, a man also dressed in running clothes came walking down the street in my direction. As he came closer, he seemed to be walking towards me specifically. Given the current state of social distancing, I was curious and even a bit concerned. I needn’t have worried as he stopped himself at a safe distance that still allowed for conversation. Up close, he didn’t look particularly familiar - or unfamiliar for that matter.
“So, are you still in training?” he asked. I was a taken aback by his question, but given what I looked like, it wasn’t such a surprise. “Well, yes I am - as a matter of fact, I was supposed to have run the Pittsburgh Marathon today. I’m still just happy to be out there getting my run in” I added, trying to be friendly.
The man then said “You’ve run a lot of marathons haven’t you?” This was getting a little weird now. I thought to myself, “Does this guy know me?” Nevertheless I said “Yes, this one would have been my 17th.”
Finally, after asking how my wife and I were managing through the coronavirus crisis - pretty typical conversation these days - he added “This probably isn’t much of a change for you since you work from home.” OK, now I was sufficiently freaked. How did this guy know so much about me and particularly how and where I worked?!?
Now feeling suspicious, I asked “Do I know you?” He reminded me that we had met and talked for awhile at our community association meeting six months ago. The conversation came back to me. I even remembered that we had figured out that we both worked with the same triathlon trainer amongst other things.
I was beyond flattered that this man remembered all this so I inquired “How in the world did you remember all that about me?” His answer was short, simple and poignant:
“I listened to what you said.”
I’m sharing this little exchange because it highlights something we can all do that is so simple yet something we rarely do authentically: Listen.
How often do we truly listen to what others share with us? Both the significant and the mundane. Conversely, how often are we just biding our time till we can share our own brilliance? A lot more - if I’m answering honestly for myself. This kind man’s one simple action, giving me the gift of being listened to meant so much to me.
Try giving that gift the next chance you get. It’s one that will keep on giving.
Robert is an Executive and Business Development Coach. You can read him here or on www.younonprofitnow.com