A Gift

I’d like to talk to you all today about a gift.  This gift is something that people appreciate and often need desperately, but it’s something that lots of people are really forgetful at giving.  This gift is free to obtain, and takes up no space on the recipient’s shelf or desk.  This gift can be re-gifted without the new recipient even knowing that it was re-gifted, since it requires no new packaging.

What is this wonderful gift?

Listening.

In my recent month of attending workshops and classes for creative folks with small businesses, the only thing that I’ve really felt to be a challenge is reaching out and getting to know the people.  The wedding industry seems to thrive on collaboration and networking.  Making the connections to other people and having a mutually beneficial relationship seems to be the desire of many.  Building a friendship with someone who understands the challenges and the awesomeness of the business you’re in is a great way to surround yourself with a  supportive community of people who will push and encourage you.

As an introverted person, I love to listen.  I love to observe.  Not all introverts, or extroverts, are the same.  I can only speak for myself – and for myself, I prefer really focused, deep, meaningful discussions, with mutual respect and reverence for all individuals involved, and for all words said. 

The challenge lies within the conversation and the individuals – productive conversations and meaningful conversations are only such when all parties and words are respected and treated kindly.  I’ve had trouble finding this at times, inside and outside of the wedding industry. 

Another challenge in building relationships with others in the industry is that I am bringing less experience to the table than many other people.  Logistically and strategically, why would anyone want to hear my words?  As defeatist as that sounds, it does not appear from the outside that I have as much to offer someone else as an individual who is more established.  Despite the fact that I’m smart and capable, it’s hard to show that if I cannot get started on that relationship.  How would I start that connection? 

By talking, probably.  I don’t like to interrupt others, but sometimes that seems to be the only way to get a word in.  Lots of people interrupt me as I’m carefully stating my words, thinking about their meaning.

This post is definitely coming out of some weeks of thinking.  I also just wanted to examine this issue a little bit, and throw it out there to the Internet.  I can’t be the only person who feels this way.  Goodness knows I’m not the only person who gets interrupted.  And of course I’m not the only person out there with something to offer, in terms of friendship and business.

Some might say that this issue is tied to confidence.  I can hear them already.  Telling me to get out there and just make more friends, fake it until you make it, show them how confident you are by reaching out first, and how hard can it really be?

But sometimes it is hard.  It’s hard when that wonderful gift, listening, is not freely given.  Even if I have all the confidence in the world, I can’t make anyone do anything they don’t really want to do.  I also can’t make anyone realize that listening in itself is a gift.  And it’s also not a gift if you have to ask for it. 

What does everyone out there think?  Where are you on the listening scale?

Love and light,

Alyssa