Curiosity and Understanding

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I attended a Moth Mainstage event in Portland Oregon.  The Moth features everyday people who tell stories about their life without using any notes.  It’s just the speaker, a microphone, and the audience.

That night we heard from 5 different storytellers:

  1. A junior speech writer for President Obama
  2. An Australian lady helping her Hungarian boyfriend gain US citizenship
  3. A dad remembering a Halloween after the death of a beloved family pet
  4. The son of a man who died on Mt. Everest
  5. A Sudanese refugee’s journey across Africa, after fleeing from her war-torn country, that eventually led to the United States

Their stories were riveting.

As my wife and I were driving home, discussing what we’d just heard, we were both struck by how hearing someone’s story gave us an understanding as to how they thought about, felt about, and perceived their unique experience.  Even though neither of us has fled a war in our own country, we gained a slight understanding of how someone who has had that experience might feel, simply by hearing this Sudanese woman’s story.

Here’s the best part:  if we ever meet someone who is or was a refugee, we will have a better chance of understanding what concerns or fears they may be dealing with, simply because we were willing to listen to someone else’s similar experience.

I think it’s important to be curious about other people and willing to listen to them in order to gain a better perspective as to how their experiences have shaped their worldview, especially when they are different from us in culture or beliefs.

Be curious as you meet people that are different from you, and be willing to listen to them to understand how their experiences have shaped them.  It’s a great way to build connection with people you meet in the future that may have had a similar experience.

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