Tag Archives: communication

Hungry For A Conversation

For three years I went and worked as a charity fundraiser in a call centre. Why I did, that is another story! What I heard and what I learned on the phone was extraordinary. Fundraising is no walk in the park! It’s all about providing a supportive setting albeit temporary where people awaken to an idea, they can make a difference and act on that belief right away in the form of a donation.

The work itself is relentless, the targets staggering and the money poor. Paying rent on this salary was difficult, so it would be easy to miss a bigger picture that was quietly taking shape. Each day as I listened to more and more people something was beginning to form & take shape in my soul. Before I began each shift I would quietly sit and say to myself “Today I will give each person I speak to, the best possible experience of a fundraiser” That one simple affirmation meant that over a 3 year period thousands of people would invite me in to their lives over the phone.  And so I began to listen to whole demographics within the population. Often ‘baby boomers’ and the very elderly. The guy next door to lords & ladies.

People talked to me about their families, births deaths, marriages, their hopes and dreams, sadness & joy, frustrations, politics, religion, relationships & work, successes and failures, their pets, holidays, secrets, confessions, fears and their longings and I listened to their stories. I spoke to these incredible people who had done everything from building sheds to business empires, growing vegetables for their communities, changing gender, fled war zones, and born in prisoner of war camps.

There were those who had the courage to start over in their 60’s and 70’s, saved lives, written books, been to prison and turned their lives around. Here was all the experience, knowledge and wisdom for any successful society right under our noses.

Even with differing life experiences what all of these people had in common was a ‘hunger for a conversation’ with someone who would listen. Here were thousands of people who so often had become invisible in our communities. I suspect there might be quite a few people I spoke to in your street. Let’s all begin a new conversation.

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Starting A Dialogue By Sharing Experiences

Sharing Experiences – Beginning a Conversation

 

It’s hard to believe that we can feel so alone and isolated on such a big populated planet. How many of us could honestly say that we haven’t stood in a crowded space yet felt all alone? I have always been fascinated in how we communicate in our families, communities and on a world stage. I’ve come to realise that sharing our experiences including our struggles and failures are a very large part of the essential building blocks of any individual, family, friendships and larger communities. Yet we avoid talking about our struggles and failures like the plague.

Let me share a story with you. When I was 12 years old my mother was diagnosed with a rare cancer of the blood. My mother, father and the close knit church we were part of all went into denial. For two years I was merely told that I had to be particularly well behaved as my mother was ‘not well’. We all lived on the idea that if we ‘believed’ then she would be well. As a child no one sat down and talked or even asked how I was feeling. So we all watched my beautiful mother being quite literally nuked with chemotherapy and radio therapy. All our fears, sadness, even joy collected in a great lump inside each one of us. So for two years we were silent. Then one day my mother took me aside and announced she was going to die. A week later she died. On that day I lost two parents, one through death and the other through grief. All of the unexpressed emotions of the last two years quite literally surfaced a few days later when I woke one morning with a small tuft of grey hair on my right temple. I was 14 years old.

This would be an incredibly sad story if we didn’t learn from it. Quite simply we are making our selves sick and building higher and higher walls between each other. Hospitals and other institutions are full of people who haven’t been able to deal with their struggles fears and failures. Many have probably never been listened to. Sit and spend time. Often what seems ‘embarrassing’ or difficult is a great relief when expressed and shared. Telling a friend how you feel is never a sign of weakness, in fact it shows great courage. You allow another person to be seen, just by listening to them. Listening without advice can be an enormously healing experience. I see you!