Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Talk isn't Cheap

I was sitting there minding my own business, once again at the local Barnes & Noble. I was about 150 pages into the new James Patterson novel, when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a young man toting a backpack and computer bag. He was obviously looking for somewhere to sit, but seating is premium.

Inviting him to sit at my table, I turned back to my book. For the next hour and a half I read about 3 pages. Within seconds we embarked on a conversation that would take us from college, to the FBI, to Gnostic gospels, to Arabic languages, to stories, to Jerry Falwell, to confessions and maybe a little hope. It all began with being willing to put the book down and notice someone around me.

Earlier in the day, I had visited a local organization seeking a favor. As I began to talk with the Director, she introduced me to a member of their board. Our conversation took more twists and turns than a country road. I learned all about her kids, their church, the history of their organization. We talked about volunteer work I did after Hurricane Katrina. At the end of the conversation she invited me to live in their families home, if I needed a place to stay until my family could join me here in Yorktown. Mind blowing that this is someone I just met.

Conversations are opportunities waiting to happen. I am fascinated by people's willingness to share, when we take the time to notice them and acknowledge their existence. What would happen if we truly took an interest in the people around us?

8 comments:

Rob said...

You are a ninja at this. I must send out an unfriendly vibe because when I try this people run in the opposite direction.

Daniel said...

Brian, you are an amazing person. What is your secret?

Alicia said...

true indeed. just last night the waitress i had at logan's started sharing her whole story with us: about being pregnant and engaged and not being accepted. trying to find a balance. i realized... she just needed someone to listen. and we were willing.

Brian Miller said...

While I enjoy the ninja status, I don't know that there is a secret or a formula other than being genuinely interested in people. Some talk to me, some don't. If I wait for someone to talk to me, I'll be sitting there a long time. I have no motive, but to get to know them.

Brian Miller said...

Any one else have ideas on talking with people?

Dad said...

As you know I am a self proclaimed introvert. I really enjoy being & doing things by myself. But as your mother says "I never meet a stranger". I often find it very interesting to talk to strangers. We can learn & help so much if we will just place ourselves in a position to listen. People have so many stories to tell, some good, some bad, some happy, some sad. We all need to break the I/Me talk and just let people talk for a change.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, when I run into people who plow into their stories with unfettered vigor I feel my eyes glaze over and I'm taken to a far off place. I'm always snapped back to reality when they finish though. Maybe that makes me a great listener. ;^)

Nice post.

-Duke Fan

Brian Miller said...

Great wisdom dad. Our motives with the conversation determine a lot of the out come. Here is a quote I enjoy...

As soon as you lay your hands on a conversation to steer it, it's not a conversation anymore; it's a pitch. And you are not a human being; you're a marketing rep _The Big Kahuna (1999)