I think that people are a lot like jewels. Sometimes you have to hold them up to the light to gain a deeper appreciation of their true beauty. Encouraging people to tell you stories about different times in their lives is a great way to discover the experiences that shaped them, and gain new insights into who they truly are.
One Christmas my husband’s aunt absolutely delighted us by telling a story about being a nurse and an officer on a Navy ship during World War II. You could still hear the feistiness in her voice as she described how she dealt very directly with some less than respectful doctors. She was still ready to fight for what she believed was right in her 80’s when she shared the story.
Here are some story starters that you might weave into conversations over the holidays. You can vary them depending upon how familiar you are with the person you’re talking with:
- What did you enjoy doing when you were a teenager? What do you like to do for fun now?
- How did you celebrate the holidays when you were a child?
- Do you have a favorite book? Why did you enjoy it so much?
- What was the highlight of your year this year? What made that event so special for you?
- Why did you choose to become a ______________________? If you had it to do again, would you make a different choice?
- Where have you traveled? Why did you choose to travel there and what was it like?
- How did you meet your wife/husband? What was special about him/her?
- What was the biggest challenge you ever faced? How did that turn out?
As you listen, consider what matters most to this person? What seems to light this person up? How has this person been shaped by his or her experiences? How are these values still a part of who this person is today?
I hope you’ll be surprised and delighted this holiday season by the new facets you discover in the people you hold dearest.
Dianna L. Anderson, MCC
Join the Conversation
Please share your favorite story “jewels.”