Letting people tell their story

The other day I was at my favorite bar and my friend decided to ask where our waitress was from. (Everybody is from somewhere else in this country. Except for 20%. But our waitress was obviously not a local.) It turned out that she was from Myanmar. (Or Burma. Whichever you prefer. She preferred Myanmar.)

So she started telling us the history of the country. How the military ran things. How they’re attempting to be a democracy, but the military still controls things. How there’s a huge gap between the rich military and everyone else. How a woman won the Nobel Peace Prize and got elected to Parliament and everyone had hope. How the military still controls things.

And I kept finishing her sentences. Because it’s a story with a predictable end. Of course the military will keep their status. Of course they’re still struggling huge inequalities.

And when I asked, fully knowing the answer, “So is that why you came here?” I wanted to punch myself. It just seemed so highly pretentious to be like “story as old as time” to someone who’s telling the story. It might be a common story, but it’s still her story.

I need to learn to just shut the hell up and let people tell their own stories.

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One Response to Letting people tell their story

  1. Kristine says:

    I think I have that problem as well. When I’m actively listening to someone tell their story, I have the tendency to want to add to their story or ask questions.

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