I regularly get the chance to listen to people.  For a guy who a lot of people think is talkative and gregarious, I find myself listening to others a lot more.  Because of the line of work I do I often find myself sitting with individuals as they explain what’s going on in their life.  I ask inviting questions that allow them to tell me more.  And they usually do.  It’s amazing at what is “going on” in the lives of people.

Besides the phrase “tell me more”, I usually throw in the question “what else is going on?”  That one isn’t initially as insightful.  People think I want them to talk about something else but nothing could be further from the truth.  I want them to keep talking about their situation but I want them to think “what else is going on” in the situation that could be affecting the situation.   (My editor is going to kill me for that last statement.  I can hear her now—“wordy, clumsy, overstated, and poor”.  Yes it was wasn’t it!)

Back to the post.  What else is going on?   Usually there is a lot more but we don’t get to see it.  Like an iceberg poking its nose above the surface, 75% of the issue is below the waterline and very real.

I listened to an individual vent their anger about their coworker.  The person went around and around about this other person’s behaviour.  Frankly, I thought the anger had a point but it seemed so much more elevated than I would have expected.  So I asked the question—“what else is going on?”  The individual switched to talk about their vacation but I stopped them.  I wanted to know what other issue was going on in their lives.  It turns out the individual was struggling with their mid life-ness, and the increasing sentiment of being useless or over the hill, and being disrespected.  When I posed the observation that maybe their anger with their coworker was attached to a feeling of disrespect in their life, the individual’s head dropped like a rock.

For the person of faith, there’s a whole chapter to consider that a person of non faith would not have to deal with.  We believe there is a God who doesn’t leave us alone.  And though we think our life’s issues are separate from our God issues, I wonder if there are times when God is poking his head into our lives and what we are actually experiencing is connected?

So, “what else is going on in your life”?

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