Ever gone to the zoo and watched the monkeys? (Obviously you haven’t been to the zoo since COVID-19, right? That poor Brooklyn tiger!)

Where was I? Monkeys.

Our charming relatives throw their own feces – their own pooh! – at each other to establish dominance. Whoever throws the most pooh wins.

If you’re eating lunch right now, I apologize. I blow virus-free kisses in your direction.

Let’s move from the monkey house to the communication zoo.

Ever share something you cherish, something vulnerable, something you love? Something so important you’re telling a STORY about it?

And the big question? How does it feel when you have your story – and heart – stomped on?

Yup, me too.

Here’s what really stinks.

Most people believe when they hear a story, their job is to tell a story in return. Preferably a tale that’s bigger, better, faster, BEST.

Welcome to the jungle, baby monkey!

Stories, especially stories that show our underbelly and reveal Who We Are, are sacred.

Below are three tips for evolving into a master story listener with zero monkey business in mind.

Step 1: Listen with delight

Practice absolute presence and mindfulness. Multitasking is a giant no-no. Display body language that’s natural, comfortable, relaxed and open. Your phone? Ignore it.

Step 2: Ask reflective questions

Something as simple as, “Wow, when did that happen?” gives a story time to breathe and shows you’re alive and listening.  Reactions like “I can’t believe she did that to you!” are judgments.

Step 3: Give appreciation

Appreciation and gratitude are the tastiest bananas out there.

What I really like about your story is….
Your story shows me you’re someone who….
After listening to your story, I feel….

And that’s it! We’ve caged the nasty monkey called One-Upmanship.

What a delightful monkey you are. And look! Monkey see, monkey do.

Those monkey monsters are starting to act just like you.  They’re on the ground with ears, minds and hearts wide open.