My husband shakes his head at me…often….for many reasons… but one that he realizes most about me is, I get a LOT of information from people I talk to….even strangers…
Now, this is a guy in sales, so he can talk the leg off a duck. He’s not shy. But he really cares less about people, and more about the sale. Where I find people fascinating and I love to hear all about them.
I was at the gas station one time and in five minutes, I learned from the guy pumping gas next to me, that he loves cars and working on them, he was retired, married to his wife for 12 years, had two girls in local elementary school, he was selling their ‘extra’ house and even a few more details that have since purged from my mind…
I don’t know how our conversation started, and to be honest, I don’t think I initiated it. But once he started talking, the questions started flying out of my mouth and he was eager to share.
This journey was definitely a process for me, because I have total RBF (for those who don’t know it’s “Resting Bitch Face”. ) I have been called scary on more than on occasion.
That said, I have read a lot of books (okay, not all the way through) and been to a lot of therapy sessions and come out of my shell over the years. I also have a work history in customer service, so I know people…. But I think I honed my skill in my photography business, because in order to get a good shot of a human being, you need to know who they are… In my world, a headshot isn’t just a picture, it’s an image that in half a second someone needs to see YOU and make a positive judgement. And for some people, that image takes a bit of work!
In my business, I have learned to ask MANY questions to my clients. And I never get tired of hearing what they have to say. Sometimes I ask about their heritage, sometimes their work, sometimes their aspirations.
And, here’s what I have found…..
People LOVE to talk about themselves!!!
It’s not a narcissistic thing… it’s more of a comfort level thing….
In life we grow up and everyone asks that dreaded question…. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
What an awful question! It’s instant pressure that kids really don’t need, and at 5 yrs old, who really knows? And for that matter, with all the seniors I have been shooting, many of them have no clue either…but they are excited to start their journey to find out….
What I have found in dealing with people is whether they know it or not…they DO know themselves a bit. And if they don’t, then that’s a fun conversation in and of itself.
I’m half Irish and half Romanian (until my 23 and me tells me differently), so I love the heritage question. Because I look back at my parents who, in my opinion, have no idea how an irish girl (Imagine Maureen O’Hara if you will) settled with a Romanian (can we talk Vlad the Impaler?). It’s FASCINATING to me.
We all come from SOMEWHERE!!!
I learned last week that one of my clients is half Romanian. You know how I learned that? I told him he reminds me of my dad’s side of the family. His mother was excited to share their heritage, and I found it so interesting that someone else in the world came from that strange place. It’s not common in this area…
But I digress…..
In this world of stress and uncertainty, the one thing we all know with a huge comfort level is… ourselves.
So when I meet people, I may notice a small detail, like a ring and give a compliment. Pretty soon, I’m hearing about how the ring was acquired, how long they had it, and what it means to them…which opens up a whole world of other questions….
I truly love chatting with people and I have no problem opening up. I think I share more than most, because I have always been transparent. It’s not unusual for people to reach out to me on Messenger and ask for advice or thoughts…
Why is this a topic of conversation? Well, I am not sure. Maybe because I was walking with my neighbor today and discussing that my daughter will be rushing a sorority in the fall, and she had her eye on a certain sorority…and guess what? My neighbor would be her sorority sister…she even offered to write a letter if it gets that far.
I was kind of blown away…
I have been her neighbor for 15 yrs now…. never knew what sorority she was in. And why would I? It’s not something you blurt out…
But at this time of my sharing, she was quick to offer it up, and it really excited me. And it made me realize, truly…the more you share, the more you learn!!!
I feel we have gotten away from chatting it up with people…As we have our heads in our cell phones we are way less connected. I walked into a Starbucks recently, and the place was full. I locked eyes with a guy who smiled at me, and I smiled back. Then I put it in my head he was checking me out, but reality hit when I looked around and realized that in that busy place…we were literally the only two people who didn’t have our heads in our phones!!! There was no one else to smile at…
Maybe I’m just weird and like chatting. But I think what I’m most taken with is people really do want to share and I find it fun to find out the nooks and crannies of peoples’ lives.
It also makes us realize we are not alone in this world. Thanks to my oversharing, I throw my struggles out to people, and this brings a comfort level to others, making them realize that I am relatable. I’m not tooting my own horn, because I’d rather not struggle at times. But the takeaway from the struggle is always great and the sharing of the wisdom is always appreciated. And this makes the door to communication open…which is what I like.
I think another reason I’m motivated to write about this, is through my recent struggle with one of my girls, I realize that part of her problem is her unwillingness to share, which not only hinders…but completely shuts down my ability, as a parent, to help her. For whatever reason, she has it in her head that I’m this big scary beast (which, let’s be honest…I sure can be!) and I will come down on her like thunder. But what she doesn’t realize is that when I find out I wasn’t given all the information (basically lied to…wait, what? Teens LIE? The HELL you say) and when I find out, then yes…there is thunder to be had and very much earned…
My older daughter was a process…she was not an open book and it took years to get her to open up. What eventually broke down the wall, was she started realizing that when she REALLY needed me to listen and be calm…I was. And trust was eventually built, and now she tells me (pretty much) everything. Our relationship is so different today than it was a few years ago.
So the bottom line is this… Communication really does open doors. Whether it comes in the form of a quick chat with a friend, or a long commiseration. It all counts. We really should lean on each other more and realize we aren’t alone.
Give it a shot.. ask a stranger where they got their shoes, or throw someone an unexpected compliment. See what happens. Not only will you brighten someone’s day…you just might learn something!