As the videoconference began, I was pumped. There was no doubt that the extra morning latte (small) helped. However, I think it was the premise that I had a one on one conversation with someone willing to listen to our story that had me wound up. I wanted to share the details. I had good news! I was sure that it mattered. I was confident what I had to say was relevant.
I should have reminded myself that going into a conversation pumped is rarely a good recipe for success. My natural reaction is a conversation that is going well is to become more intense and passionate. This often translates into a conversation that starts fast and gets even faster. Sometimes this is ok, on other occasions one leaves with the sense that I missed part of the dialogue.
Today was a mix of both. It was as if I wanted, needed to anticipate the question. I had lost sight of the rule of civil discourse. No matter how much you have to say, in agreement or otherwise, patience is always a good thing. The old cliché applies, there is a time to talk and a time to listen.
I wish there were formal rules that kept the pace in check. In a legal setting, the roles are clear. When “the governor motioned to Paul that it was now his turn,” (Acts 24.10) he knew nobody was allowed to interrupt. Life does not work that way. Interruptions are natural events. Distractions are often unintentional.
I kicked myself the first time I interrupted the flow. The second time, I took a deep breath and reminded myself of the goal – to share what was helpful and to keep the rest of the story for another day.
As I closed out the call, I realized that I had told the story as it was to be heard. The pace was not my own but that of the listener. My role was to simply be the storyteller. The rest of the details will come when the time is right.