LISTENING IS HARDER THAN YOU THINK




Today is Thursday, March 31st, 2022. I just recently started listening to and reading Brené Brown, I know I am late to the party. I, like many others, find her to be an amazingly intelligent woman who takes our everyday underpinning and brings it to the surface in a way that is real and blunt but not in your face confrontational. It makes you think but doesn’t trigger you, and I am fascinated with that.


She and I are close in age, both raised in Texas, but have vastly different lifestyles, different families, different backgrounds, but still sisters of Texas. Which, if you know me that has always been my thing. I love being a Texas woman.


I was recently going through some of her writings, and I came across “The practice of story stewardship”. Here is the link. https://brenebrown.com/articles/2021/12/05/the-practice-of-story-stewardship/


It is an amazing article, and as I read it, I thought, “Oh GOD I do this, I steal the stories!” I make them about me instead of being a steward of other people’s stories and other people’s thoughts and desires and wants and needs. And I take it on instead of saying just “me too” and “I understand” and let me hold space for you.” Even though I know that’s what I should do, and I do while conversing with new friends or making new connections in my work and podcasting. But “Oh God,” especially with those close to me, my tribe, it’s worse with them than with anyone. And let me apologize. “My tribe, I apologize from the bottom of my heart. I will try to do better, and it is okay to remind me as I too am just practicing.”



I had a conversation recently with a friend about letting go and letting our children have their own journey. And then had a conversation with one of my daughters not two hours later and here I am still feeling the need to direct her. To have her think about this or that when she was just wanting advice or just wanting me to listen, I don’t know because I didn’t ask her what she wanted from me or how that would look for her. Instead, I can be so guilty of taking over the story, turning it around to be about me, or a lesson I can impart upon her, or worse, I look at my email, or Facebook, or the television and become disinterested and disengaged. So instead of being true to what I think is my nature, well, maybe that is my nature. Maybe that’s part of the problem. My nature is really to take over. Instead of being the empathic person I think I am and holding space for my daughters, my son, my wife, my friends, I talk over them and turn the story around to make it centered on me. Oh boy, I too have work to do! Life is an adventure of curiosity and practice, not for perfection but for humility.


Brené says, “We are good stewards of the stories we tell by trusting them to people who have earned the right to hear them, and telling them only when we are ready. We are good stewards of the stories we hear by listening, being curious, affirming, and believing people when they tell us how they experienced something.”


I like to talk, and I think I’ve made that my excuse. I like to talk, so therefore I’m the one that should be talking, when in fact, I’m the one that should be listening. I’m the one that should be quiet. I’m the one who is now apologizing for all the stories that I have stolen. Not stolen, as in, I’ve taken your story and told other people, but stolen in as in I’m not giving you the space to tell your story. I apologize for turning your stories around and making it about me.


So, I challenge you to read this amazing article “The practice of story stewardship.” And maybe peruse Brené Brown, get to know her and her incredible work, as we explore together, changing the conversation from shame and guilt to one of joy and grace.


Let’s all try. For the next week to be stewards of other people’s stories, to give other people space to tell us what they need to say and to listen. Listen wholeheartedly attentively. Even if the subject matter isn’t something that we are interested in, we are interested in other people. To make connections with other people, we need to honor each of our stories and make space for them. Just as we are asking others to make space for us. In Love, Joy and Light. Have a great week - Kristin.


Update October 20, 2022

On LinkedIn, I came across another person's content that spoke on the same topic- that of listening when people speak. A person commented on their post, and I wanted to share what they said. It is something that I am trying to remember when people speak to me. When someone speaks, ask "Do you want feedback, validation, connection of just someone to listen?" Such great advice! Right?!