Have you ever been the “outsider” in a group of friends, family or coworkers when a word or phrase is uttered and they all start laughing?

Typically this group quickly realizes that the “outsider” is unaware of their “insiders” joke and they all begin to share the story of their shared memory and pretty soon you too are in on the joke and laughing right along with them.

While the above example is one of laughter invoked simply by a word or phrase. Other stories can stir our hearts with compassion, bring us to tears, or inspire us into action for a cause or to create change we wish to see. I’ve discovered that a person’s story when shared can help ease pain-theirs and others, help them process through a difficult time, teach, and even bring laughter.

Throughout human history, stories of people and peoples have been passed from generation to generation. In the corporate sense this is so we remember and learn and carry on traditions. Yet even more powerful is the story of one person… 

What brought them to where they are? Where have they lived, worked and played? What is their greatest life lesson? How did they come to learn this lesson? What wisdom would they like to share with future generations so their path is easier and filled with more love, joy and laughter?

 Each and every one of us wants to know that we matter. We want to feel seen, heard and loved. So, if we want this for ourselves, then surely others must too. 

So often when we engage in conversations, as the other party speaks, our minds are quickly shuffling through our memory banks for relatable information that we can tell them. These interchanges are commonly referred to as shallow or superficial conversations. 

Deep and meaningful conversations occur when one party truly listens and the other party feels and knows they have been heard. This type of active listening, for most of us, takes practice.

One of the greatest gifts we can give and show someone that we respect, honor and value them as fellow human being is to actively listen to them. 

Have you ever walked away from a conversation with someone and they depart saying, “Wow, you’ve really helped me. This is one of the greatest conversations I’ve ever had”. You, in turn, are thinking, but I only said a few words...they were heard. 

We can plant seeds today for a fertile future by showing and modeling this skill, active listening, for all those around us, for everyone we come in contact with.

And, as we give, so shall we receive. Be open, willing and vulnerable to share your story so others can give you this gift as well and to help them learn and grow.

I challenge and invite you on a story-gathering treasure hunt. Seek out ways and people so you too can share, feel seen and be heard. The goal is to create hearts full of love and compassion (true treasure)…fostering a fertile future.

Abound in grace, Karen