I genuinely love people with viewpoints, especially if they are open for more. I do not always have more to offer. I find that anything is possible when a conversation is a mutual dialogue. It is as if the shared approach to listening with the intent of learning combined with viewpoints creates a door to something bigger than what I can see.
As I recently listened to a viewpoint over dinner I realized that my enthusiasm has a few caveats.
One should never presume that others are interested in or even want to hear your viewpoint. While it is exciting to share, not everyone is interested in your or my story. It is helpful to wait for the invitation. Alternatively, ask and be prepared for a “no” with graciousness.
Affirming what one has heard can help others step into a dialogue. Too often I find myself rushing to the next part of the conversation. In our conversation, a friend took the time to affirm before telling his story. I found myself eager to hear more! The affirming verbal embrace was an invitation I could not refuse.
In being open to more, I am reminded that it does not mean that one is always comfortable with what follows. I would like to say I am always open to learning. If I listen to my heart, I know this is not the case. I find that I need to be intentional if I am to have any hope in learning as I listen.
Be cautious when others simplify life to clichés. An old writer said it wonderfully; “My very dear friends, when you see people reducing God to something they can use or control, get out of their company as fast as you can.” (1 Corinthians 10.14) In this case, my conversation partner openly struggled. It was a wonderful invitation to walk together.
As our time together ended, I found myself renewed. Our conversation filled me with hope. I could see more. I wanted to reach beyond. The evening of conversation, dialogue and companionship was a wonderful gift.