Listening to a professional storyteller is a pleasure, but most of the storytellers in our lives are not professional. What do you do when someone you love seems to be going on and on with seemingly random and pointless stories? Do you tune them out or cut them off?

The key is to listen for the common thread that links the stories together. If you listen to what people say in a conversation, they will subconsciously tell you stories that all have one theme.

Decipher what the theme is and you will learn something about that person that even they may not know.

The theory goes that the closer the story is to the present, the deeper they are feeling the emotion attached to it.

So the next time you find yourself on the verge of zoning out while in a conversation, try listening with love to find the story themes.

And in your own stories, whether they are in a professional setting, with friends, or with family, be sure you have clear themes so that you are not making your audience work harder than they need to.

For more ideas on how you can listen with love, check out Listening & Caring Skills by John Savage