When we hear first person accounts or stories – they are often compelling, because the person who tells them believes what they are saying is true. It can be easy to confuse these types of stories with “the truth” or “the lie.” Truth likes to show up in different ways depending on who is doing the telling or listening.

Perhaps we also tend to believe people more often when they share stories that validate our view of things, because we humans love validation. Equally, we may disbelieve and/or think the teller is lying if their story appears to go against something we care about or believe in.

I know I have to do a better job of listening. You too? So, can we use play as a tool to be a better listener – a better leader? I believe so – the thing about play is that it keys into our natural curiosity. Here are five playful questions that might attune our ears in a more helpful way.

If my listening ear was:

  1. a cow, then I’d ask what feelings are behind the story, and I might “udder” a question or two.
  2. a piggy, I might ask myself to take an imaginary mud bath, and follow up with a good hosing off of my point-of-view – at least for a minute – so I can listen with more understanding.
  3. a banana, I’d ask myself if I am listening for only what I find a-peeling or disagreeable.
  4. a tree, I could ask what was at the root of my thoughts around the story, and I might branch out some new ideas for the person sharing the tale and the storyteller in me.
  5. a turtle, I’d ask myself if I was willing to climb out of my shell, and issue an invitation to play a favorite game with the teller of the tale – the one who tells the story I don’t like. Then we could come back to the discussion seeing each other, not as the bearer of truth or lies, not as the validator of me and/or my opinion, but as human beings.

Can we listen to all the stories as if we were holding a bouquet of wild flowers tenderly in our hands?

Enjoy the stories and have a playful day,

– Mary

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I celebrate typos typos here.

Edited 8/25/2017 to tweak my question statements and to remove one question to reduce the number to five, so it would match the title of the post. Good thing I celebrate miss-takes!

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