I was reminded recently that I should not only focus on myself and my needs, but keep others in mind on a continual basis. This is an obvious statement, and we do provide for so many needs in our lives. We support our spouse or significant other, our kids, our co-workers, etc. But how often are we intentional about truly placing the attention on another person? It is so much easier to focus on ourselves, talk about ourselves, and think of ourselves.
Over the past year I have tried to shift my mindset about the conversations I engage in, and it has been amazing. I have learned so much about so many people that I would have never known if I did not intentionally ask. My husband and I meet up with his grandmother once a month for lunch. We take that time to catch up on life, but I have also started to ask questions about times gone by, times with her husband who is now diseased, how life was for her growing up, and the places she has traveled in her life. Her life and her stories are amazing! It brings great joy to her to share and reminisce about these times, and it brings me tremendous joy as I listen.
How often, in our daily conversations, do we really listen to people? How often do we put others first in our conversations? How often are we intentional about asking others about their past or present experiences? All of these things take some intentionality. For me, and I would guess for most of us, this does not come naturally. I have had to:
- Prepare ahead of time by thinking if questions I can ask.
- I take some time to think about the person I am getting ready to have a conversation with, who is important to them, and what is important to them.
- I think about their hobbies and interests. If I don’t know of any, my first question is “what do you love to do for fun?”
- I think of events that recently happened in their life and ask them about them.
What happens next is vital.
When we truly listen and are interested in the person the next question comes naturally. Yes, there is a chance that you will not be able to talk about yourself, but it is very rewarding to put someone else first. I have had some of the greatest lunches, car rides, and walks with others when I make it all about them. Be the bright spot in someone’s day, ask about them, listen and make it all about them.
What upcoming conversation can you be intentional about? It could be someone right in front of you.