I’m a talker; always have been. Growing up, I was never shy when it came to speaking my mind, and I sure did love an audience! I remember competing in a french public speaking contest in Grade 6 at UBC. I must have been nervous – there were over 500 people in the audience – but as soon as I hit that stage the story simply took over.
I have, and likely always will be, a storyteller. I love it when people hang on my every word, eager to hear how the story ends. It is a powerful skill. Yet all of that changed when I started to lose my hearing. I suffer from tinnitus (constant ringing in my ears) and it has affected my hearing. When it first started, I was terrified that I would lose my hearing completely, and the doctor’s initial (false) diagnosis of a brain tumor did not help calm my nerves.
Since then, I have spent countless hours exploring alternative medicines and therapies. My healer Louise offered me sanctuary at Vancouver Healing Centre where I could explore the possible causes and find my own solutions. Surprisingly, it was in the silence, where the tinnitus is typically loudest, that I was finally able to find some relief through meditation. Learning how to meditate not only helped me cope with my ears, it also taught me how to really listen.
One lesson that I learned through meditation was rather than filling up the awkward silences that can pop up in a conversation, you need to let go and leave that space open for others to fill. This is the art of story listening; giving someone the space, and the time, to collect their thoughts and embrace the conversation. It is how I learned to teach people to become storytellers themselves.
When I meet with my clients I don’t dictate how their story should go. I have learned to bite my tongue. My business background helps direct the process, but when it comes down to it my business is all about listening – listening to different people’s experiences and interpretations of a business, listening to the questions posed and the answers given, and above all listening to what my clients need and eventually helping them find their story. Listening may be the first step in my branding process, but I believe it is the most important aspect. Funny how it took losing part of my hearing to teach me how to truly listen.