It was fall of 2009, my grandmother had just passed away, and the family was all in the small town funeral home. I went out to the porch to sit for a while, because yes, the funeral home has a porch. It was a rare moment alone; as an introvert, these moments are precious and few in the death of a family member. The funeral home director exited and he offered me condolences on my grandmother’s passing and we made small talk about the unusually warm weather as he broke my reflective state.
Because I was curious, I asked after a comfortable pause in the conversation how one finds himself being the only funeral home operator in a small town and what life choices lead to this occupation. He weaved a story at last a century in length. He had married into the business and had been doing it for 37 years. He told me a story about the day that he helped my family bury my great-grandmother, Ma’ Bess, as everyone called her, who died the year before I was born. I later came to find out that this practical stranger had also helped organize the funeral for my great-grandfather, a noted judge, and that his father-in-law had been part of relatives in my family line past that. It was a truly fascinating conversation.
In my time, I’ve realized that I’m great at establishing shallow (as in brief and only at surface level) relationships. For the most part, people take to me like water….and that has always baffled me beyond comprehension. I’m not outgoing, I don’t particularly do things to pull people into a conversation/relationship with me, and I am so awkward…at everything.
Today I realized why.
I am genuinely interested in people. Perhaps it’s my child-like obsession with finding out information or the wanna be psychologist in me that likes to understand people and what makes them tick.
People like to talk and they like for people to listen…honestly listen. I realized that I am lucky enough to do this naturally. I will ask a cashier how their days have been and I honestly want to know. I want to know how this person whose path my path crosses with is doing…it is important to me. If it’s not important that day (or more than likely-if I’m feeling self-absorbed) I won’t ask.
These relationships rarely go further than one chance meeting. There are moments, however, when the beauty of relating to someone becomes real have made up some of my greatest memories (and deep friendships).
So, if you want to have successful shallow relationships become genuinely interested in everyone you meet.