I love those conversations with people where we find out more about each other. They are where we realise what we have in common with each other and how we are different. We gain a better understanding of each other’s worlds, and we learn how fascinating people and their stories are.

So often our interactions with others are superficial – small talk. These are not real conversations, because they don’t allow the other person into your world. I wonder, is this because we fear that they may not like us if they find out who we really are? How daft is that!

There will always be some people who don’t like us, for whatever reason, no matter how much we try to give the ‘right’ impression. We can’t actually control whether other people like us or not, so it’s a waste of effort to try to.

On the other hand, I find that being willing to tell stories from my own life – the funny, the moving, the absurd, the wonderful – often provokes others to tell some of their stories, and that allows us to relate at a different level. We notice our foibles and our strengths with affection and respect, and I fall in love with people who at first glance would not be ‘my type’.

Hawaiians have an expression for this form of conversation: they call it ‘talking story’. I love this!! If someone suggests that we talk story, I am immediately engaged – this will be fun, fascinating, heart-warming. It has that warm tone to it, that delight in our diverse humanity, and we all know how it will feel. There is a clear intention to share in a positive way, and make each other feel listened to and respected for their humanness.

And we can all encourage other to talk story rather than stay at the protective shell level by being willing to start the process: be the first one to admit to your humanness and make it safe for others to join in.

It’s so much more satisfying and enriching than small talk or gossip, so come on, let’s talk story!

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