One big misconception of storytelling is that it is more about telling than listening. It's a simple misconception since it's story"telling" not story"listening."
The key ingredient to becoming a better storyteller is to become a storylistener.
Listening is a choice.
We choose what to listen to every day, and choosing not to listen creates adverse consequences.
You see this everywhere.
I love to people watch, especially at the airport. Airports are the crossroads of the world because you have people from all nations and backgrounds passing through to unknown destinations. As I watch people amid travel, I wonder where they are going and where they're coming from. I wonder about the circumstance that surrounds their journey.
Through observation, you can pick out the travelers oblivious to the world. You can pick out the nonlisteners.
The earbuds are in, the phone's up, and they have a bag full of distractions.
Some people get so engrossed they miss their flight, or they are the last ones to board and delay a plane full of people's plans.
Choosing not to listen and be aware creates unnecessary consequences.
That is one way we choose not to listen.
Listening is a choice we make every day.
Choosing whether or not to listen manifests in a multitude of ways.
Do we or don't we listen to that pile of laundry?
If we don't, we've got nothing to wear and double the work.
You find yourself digging through the dirty clothes, smelling the ripeness of socks to see if you can get one more wear out of them because you chose not to listen.
Temptation speaks through the cake in the fridge.
By listening to the voice that says, "One piece won't hurt," we gain ten pounds in a week, and we undo three months of healthy choices and work.
It comes back to the power we have to choose.
When we choose not to listen, we tend to choose to complain.
Complaints put the focus on ourselves while listening requires us to move beyond ourselves to focus on others.
It's a fact; you cannot complain about the conscious choices you make.
When you choose not to listen, you cannot complain about the consequences that follow because you created the situation.
Failing to listen creates missed opportunities; it creates missed moments with important people. Not listening means being unaware of the life that is passing you by.
Listening is intentional living and an essential key to storytelling.
Listening redirects the focus to create an environment of understanding, and choosing to listen to others' stories offers a lens to understand our stories better because it shifts our focus.
Storytellers are communicators of understanding as listening bridges the gap between time, space, communities, and people from all over the world.
Competent storytellers cannot be poor listeners.
Charlie McCoin is a teacher, a traveler, and a storyteller who works to help people discover and tell their stories.