When you take a moment to really listen to another person, hear their story and connect with them, it can be an amazing experience. The problem in today’s world is we are all moving at an extremely rapid pace and it can be difficult to find time to have a good conversation with someone new.
I was recently at a business networking event where there were maybe 50 other business owners and sales people in the room. As I walked around, I saw a lot of fast paced talking and most of the conversation was “surface level” discussion at best. Most people were waiting for their chance to talk at the other person rather than listening and being engaged in the dialog. Part of the issue was this type of event can be rushed and that alone can hurt the quality of conversation. But this was not the first time I had witnessed this and I began reflecting on the number of times I had done the same.
Up until recently, I had been very focused on business and just being productive in general that I was missing out on opportunities all around me. If someone new would cross my path at a coffee shop or at the gym, I would do my best to avoid the person because I was in a rush. In some cases, the person was actually trying to strike up a conversation but I wanted no part of it. In hindsight, the reason I was doing it was because I was making a snap judgment (usually based on something superficial like the age of the person) that a conversation with this person would be more work than it was worth.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting at a coffee shop very early in the morning tucked away in a corner with my laptop trying to get some writing done. About 30 minutes after I sat down, an older gentleman probably in his late 70s put his bag down in the chair next to me and went up to buy his coffee. Right away I felt myself get annoyed and was about to pack up my bag and move to another coffee shop when the man quickly reappeared and asked me what I was working on. For some reason, I changed in that moment and I felt compelled to answer his question and actually use the opportunity to make a new friend. A minute later I closed my laptop and spent the next hour having a great conversation with this interesting guy. He shared some amazing stories about his travels through Europe and his plans for the future.
The conversation totally changed my day and ultimately the way I looked at other people in general. Everyone has a story to tell and if we spend even a few moments to take some genuine interest, we are bound to find something amazing in every person we meet.