Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Listen For the Story (Frank Myer)

Good evening! My devotional tonight is once again penned by my friend, Frank Myer. Frank and I went to Harding University together and our folks did the same several decades previously. Frank writes a weekly devotional called Friday From Frank and he has graciously loaned me several of his excellent pieces! Please continue to pray for me in Vietnam!
Good Morning Folks,
Here we are again. Another week gone by and we have a thousand blessings to talk about it.
A thousand?
Really? Who cares if it’s a hundred, or ten?  Count you many blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings and it will amaze you what God has done.
That’s the rumor anyway.
Do you want to get to know people better? Do you want to engage with people you know, or want to know?
Get them to tell you their story.
How does that work?
As you know Dad was a very well-liked man. Just a couple of weeks ago, a friend told me she was going through all the posts on Facebook, and reading the many, over 200, comments. Not likes – comments. We’re starting on three months after dad was gone and she was still reading about him.
How did dad do it? He listened to people and their stories.

How does one do this?
It’s simple, but it does take a little work. Uh, oh, I used a four-letter word. Bummer.
When you talk to people, ask them a question about something they are familiar with. Them.
“Hey, Frank, how was your day?”
Here’s the work park. Listen.

Whether they say it’s a good day, or bad, it doesn’t matter? You want to hear what made it the way they perceived it.
“My day was fantastic.”
“Really? What made it do wonderful?”
When I was in college, after one summer break, I was walking across the campus when another student paired up with me and we headed to the library to study on extra work.
I may be fibbing about the destination.
I asked him how was his summer.
“It was terrible. It was the worse summer I’ve ever had.”
I stopped and looked at him. “That’s terrible. What happened?”
He just looked at me. Then he said something that has stuck with me ever since. “Frank, I have given that answer to over two dozen people. You are the first person to hear what I really said.”
He went on to point out how most folks don’t listen.
Here’s another little tid-bit I learned in counseling, marriage counseling. Oh, baby. You know, this has to be good.
We tend to stop talking and wait for the other person to speak. While they are speaking, we’re getting our next thoughts ready.  We’re not really listening.
How do you fix that?
Clarify what you think you heard.
Let’s go back to my campus days.
What would have been even better:
“Wow. I’m sorry to hear that. Did I get his right? You had a lousy summer? What happened?”
When you repeat back, it lets the other side know you’re really listening.
When telling stories, emotions, memories work best. Encourage folks you’re speaking with to dig a little deeper.
Option 1:
“Frank, what did you have for breakfast?”
“I had eggs and bacon with coffee.”
All true. All facts.
Option 2:
“Frank, what did you have for breakfast. What did you like about it?”
“Remember how your mom made your favorite breakfast?  I have this place I go to that makes a fantastic breakfast. The apple-smoked bacon is worth the drive alone.”
When you tell a story, it activates the correlating parts of the brain. When you talk about breakfast, the food section of the brain activates.
Connecting with the other person is what you’re looking for. Facts don’t connect as well as similar experiences. Get folks talking about their experiences.
When the person talks to you about experience, and you relate to their stories, or share those with them, then you connect.
People thirst for connection.
Folks want to know someone understands them.
Phrases that help:
I understand what you’re talking about?
Oh, that sounds wonderful. I can relate.
I’m sorry to hear about your pain. It must be terrible.
In our time of instant this and that, people want to know someone is taking the time to listen to them.
Last week I flew to Atlanta to meet the golden child, Melinda Myer Gardner, my younger sister. That means I had to fly home. This happened to me on the way back to Dallas.
There I am in the Atlanta airport waiting for American Airlines, I refuse to fly Communist Airways, when I see this interesting gentleman sitting across from me in the coffee shop.
First of all, he wore a leather beret. Second, he was older, late 60’s – and third, his t-shirt had a pocket with a logo, “Phantom Force – 50 Year reunion.”
What to do?
“Hey, nice t-shirt old man.” Didn’t seem to me as though it would be a good start.
I Googled- Phantom Force 50 year reunion.  Try it yourself and see what it’s all about.
Then I showed him what I found.  He was interested. It started a conversation. John spent a half hour telling me about his life, and he shared his outlook on the Viet Nam War.
People like to connect.
I realize there are few folks out there that may be a bit shy. Okay. You still talk to people. Practice.
Learn the story.
There are so many stories in the Bible with so few details. One theme permeates from Genesis to Revelation. God loves mankind.
We be mankind. (I may need to edit that last sentence.)
Doesn’t it make sense to want to know more about the people that God loves?  It does to me.
I know this takes practice. I get it. You will goof. Don’t worry. I was talking on the phone on Tuesday. It was an extended conversation. Following mom’s advice, I used “Yes, ma’am and No, ma’am.”
At the end of the conversation, the person on the other end said, “I’m a man, not a woman.”  
Uh, oh. Well, I had a good laugh at myself, apologized and got ready for the next blunder. I hope it’s a while.
God loves you.  We all like to hear that story. Remember, God loves the other guy too.
And now for the reference section of Friday From Frank.
Communicating in stories causes the brain to engage on several different levels.
Here’s an interesting article.
Let’s see. Wasn’t there someone in the Bible who told a lot of stories? Sometimes he told two at a time. That’s why they’re called parables.   Ha ha… Now that’s funny, right there.
People engage with stories. Listen for the stories and their heart will open.
Enjoy the ride, Frank Myer
 P.S. – Ephesians 2:10 --- it may that one of those good deeds is to connect with people.   Just a thought. God bless, Steve Luke 18:1 www.hawleybooks.com E-mail me at stsve@hawleybooks.com

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