“Will you listen for a change?” That phrase can be interpreted several ways depending on who it is talking, the tone of voice, the situation, history between the people, etc. In this instance, I don’t mean it in some angry, “You never listen to me,” way. No, my intention is this; sometimes a willingness to listen is what prompts change.
A Chance Encounter
I was out of town a few weeks ago to speak at a conference. My first night in town I didn’t have any dinner plans, so I decided to sit at the bar, have a meal, enjoy some Scotch, and watch whatever ball game was on the big screen tv.
There were only two open seats, one on either side of an individual who was near the end of the bar. As I observed the man, I thought he might have a disability based on his movements and speech. To be honest, that made me not want to sit next to him. At that moment I wish Jane or Abigail had been with me. Jane plays golf with a blind friend and Abigail works with the deaf. They are more graceful around people than I am, and I was feeling awkward and unsure.
Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone
But I went against my natural tendency, made the decision to step out of my comfort zone and took a seat next to the man. Truthfully, I also felt like God was tapping me on the shoulder and I’ve learned to respond to those promptings. I knew if anything good came out of the situation it certainly wouldn’t be due to anything on my part other than a willingness to be obedient.
After a few moments I struck up a conversation with the man. He wasn’t disabled, just really, really drunk. We started to talk. He shared, I listened. I asked questions and he did his best to respond.
Two hours later he was much more sober. I’d learned a great deal about him and why he was in the state he was in. He learned a little about me too. I gave him my card and asked him to stay in touch. He did connect with me on Facebook shortly thereafter.
A Prayer Answered
About a week later, on a morning walk I asked God to have the man reach out to me if He wanted me to communicate with him. Later that day I started getting messages from the man on Facebook. Coincidence? I don’t know where you stand on God and spiritual matters, but I believe it was God prompting him and answering my prayer.
I’ve found whenever I respond to what I believe God is asking of me, the person I interact with benefits. However, just as importantly, I benefit too. My faith grows because I know I’m being used by God to help someone. I cannot describe how that feels but I hope you have felt it or feel it one day. It’s indescribable!
All God wanted was for me to meet that man where he was. No condemnation, I think he’s had enough of that. No advice, I’m sure he’s heard more well-intentioned advice than he can recall. No agenda, he’s not a project, he’s a person. I was called to listen, ask questions to learn more, and to honestly answer his questions. I think each of us is capable of listening, asking, and answering.
I’ll conclude with this; will you listen for a change? You might be surprised at who changes as a result.
Brian Ahearn, CPCU, CTM, CPT, CMCT
Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only a dozen people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.
Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His second book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller in several categories. His next book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, will be available by year-end.
Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 400,000 people around the world.