Nobody ever accused a good listener of being a boring. 

When I worked at Apple, my job was not to show off how awesome I was, but to make our customers feel heard, seen, have their problems resolved, make them feel welcome and to want to come back again and again. 

Approach with a personalized warm welcome, ask pertinent, relevant questions, listen, resolve the issues, end with a fond farewell. 

I was a master of giving and receiving feedback. I really polished my social skills. But I’m really an introvert. As I took a break from keeping up with the technology, I was glad to take a sabbatical from socializing purposely. Ah, the joy of saying nothing, of daydreaming, of retreating without any trace of guilt. 

Then the pandemic also happened and we all forgot how to go out of ourselves. 

I have lost my last traces of American friendliness. I only realize it now, being back here, in America. I don’t care to make eye contact. I don’t care to smile. It doesn’t come natural. I have to make a conscious effort. 

I have many stories to tell, but I rarely could take airspace within the family. My default mode of operation in the extended family is quiet. But I know I could ask better questions. Questions that would bring out the best in others. I know what everyone likes, because I’m a good observer, but I don’t want to listen to them. As a mom I feel my attention has been squeezed and harassed and drained. “Mom, look! Watch this! See me. Hug me. Listen to me! Mom, tell me everything, teach me everything. Repeat!” 

But in our selfishness, we will feel very lonely. Wanting others to see us, to take notice, to be impressed by us, we depend on their attention, and questions. And time. 

I sincerely want to change for the better. I want to be a giver again. Not a reluctant listener, but an engaged one. The kind that shares a great deal in a few words and listens well. 

The other day we were invited for waffles at my sister in law. I love her dearly. We chat regularly. But since we arrived our times has been split more than we anticipated, between kids and family, and sickness. 

As I was holding the sleeping baby, my sister in law was finishing the last waffles, and my brother in law just sat down to enjoy a few pieces of bacon, my editat daughter, the one who loves to talk, gave me the best lesson, a reminder and inspired me to follow her lead. She broke the silence with a warm tone, after her younger cousin had an outburst meltdown-because she felt like people told her what to do. 

Jackie asked Jim “out of curiosity” if the dogs like to eat other things, other than dog food. She had a funny story about Rufus to enrich the conversation but the best part is that her uncle, my brother in law, came alive telling us stories about their two dogs. Funny stories. Jackie was the most inspired, connecting the dots, asking great questions, about safe topics, as in not loaded. The conversation took off, and it filed my heart with joy and admiration for the young woman Jackie is and is becoming. 

She asks daring questions, insightful, curious. I say this now, because most often she drives me crazy with her incessant words, and she want to know everything. Always. all the time. But on occasions like these, I see it is not all in vain. She is uniquely gifted. May we have the eyes to see and presence of mind to e courage her gifts.