Stealing the Floor
We’ve all done it.
A friend is telling some story about the monster, cataclysmic, bomb-winter storm they experienced. No sooner than they get their bits of story out, take a breathe, we step in and interrupt with our version of a similar story. The story line and floor has been hijacked.
When we are just hanging out laughing and telling fun stories, this is no big deal. But if someone is prying back a layer of their life story, then to steal the floor is poor form.
However, we do this habitually.
The aim in our being with others is to not fill up the room but to make space in the room. Create space for others to plunge deeper into their stories. Linger. Allow for silence and reflection. Make space….
Asking Simple Questions
The craft of asking questions in conversation is one worth mastering.
When someone shares something, simply ask, “what was that like for you?”
Here’s the principle: DO NOT TURN THE CONVERSATION ONTO YOURSELF.
This is one of the simplest ways to be a companioning friend to another. Just keep asking curious questions. Let them tell their story until its all told out. Then ask them another question about them.
“Earlier you mentioned your mom, how is she doing?
“What was your child home like?”
When you were in China, what did you love most about the people?”
“Why do you like debriefing so much?”
So few of us are ever pursued in conversation.
My heart is cultivated when I am with matured, curious friends who ask me questions that cause me to pause and wonder about myself, life, or the Lord. I love being with friends who allow a conversation to linger on a single topic and a single person for as long as needed. And if someone’s turn doesn’t come up that time, well that is fine.
A Field Test
Ask a friend out for coffee. Start off with a “so what’s been going on in your life lately” type of question. Listen for a word, a phrase or an event that seems significant. Be curious. “Wow, your son made the basketball team. How cool! What does that feel like after his long illness?” And just keep on asking.
DO NOT TURN THE CONVERSATION ONTO YOURSELF. Oh, the urge will be there for sure. But resist. Stay the course. Keep the conversation on them.
This is a skill that can be developed, a craft that can be mastered.
It is a trait of a true companion friend. And it is a rare grace we can offer others.