“Nice to hear from you. What an interesting and inspiring job you have. I can only imagine the young lives you touch!”
That’s the opening line I wrote yesterday upon receiving an email from a youth pastor here in Ireland where I live.
He reached out to me on Linked In to ask this question:
“What was one thing life has taught you that would have saved you a lot of hassle to know when you were 17? “
It’s a question for all of us to ponder, really isn’t it?
As I wrote to the pastor, I really appreciated being asked the question. It made me stop and think. It was hard to think of only one thing, really! I am still such a project in development.
That said, here’s what I wrote to him and what I’ll share with you all now:
One of the most empowering understandings I have today is that EVERYONE – no matter what age or what station – wants to talk about themselves.
We want someone to listen to us.
About our lives. Our hobbies. Our experiences. Our feelings. We want to be relevant. We want to share.
As a 17-year-old (or 25-year-old for that matter), I think I thought of grown-ups as super mature and slick. I didn’t realize the insecurities and need for rapport that we all continue to have.
So! Once you understand that – at any age -you can go into an interview, a meeting, a whatever – and if you have done your research properly – you can ask great questions.
Let the other person talk. Show that you are interested more in the OTHER person – than yourself. And that, in turn, will make them interested in you.
Becoming an active listener is not an easy characteristic to develop and while I say I understand it is important, I am still working to get better at it myself.
Here’s a way to keep yourself on track: Write down questions to ask someone and bring them with you. Or simply write this on top of your notebook:
“Ask questions. Listen!”
Listening is great for interviews, negotiations, sales meetings, family discussions, parenting, everything.
We build rapport by asking caring questions FIRST!
And as I wrapped up my response to the pastor, I say finally to you:
“If I can help you in any way, I’m here to listen.”
Hope that helps.
Take good care.