Today, we’re going to be ninjas. We are busting out of our own world and starting to engage other people in a positive way, ninja-style! They won’t completely know what we are up to, but they will definitely walk away from our encounter feeling good…and so will we.
Have you ever paid attention to the normal flow of our conversations? When someone else is talking, we typically relate to what they are saying by comparing it to our own experiences. For example, someone starts talking about their trip to Hawaii and you immediately begin remembering the trip you took two years ago. You are not being malicious, but you look for ways to interject details about your own trip into the conversation. We all do it. We all want to feel part of the conversation. We all want others to know about our own experiences. It makes us feel like we matter.
But imagine what would happen if we intentionally resisted the urge to steer the conversation toward our experiences? What if we chose counter-intuitively to celebrate our friend’s experience and explore how it made them feel without interjecting our own stuff? What if we asked more questions and listened more than we spoke?
This would be a great opportunity to bolster our friendship and lift up our friend. It is like we are choosing to make someone else feel like they matter! So many people are starving to have simple, undivided, focused attention on their own world.
Our assignment today forces us get outside of our own world and compassionately serve someone else by listening and engaging.
Choose someone and give them your undivided attention for 10 minutes. Turn off the TV, put your phone away, go on a walk, or find a good place to talk. Ask them questions. Encourage them to explain more. Make good eye contact (but don’t be awkward!) and communicate non-verbally that you care about what they are saying. And here is the key: engage them without interjecting your own stuff.
After your incognito free attention giveaway, you will find that they (and you) are energized, encouraged, and feeling good.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4
Sidenote: if the conversation turns sour, turn it over to God and consider where your own stuff may have gotten in the way. Give it another try tomorrow…we’re just learning here! Don’t be so hard on yourself.