One of the favorite parts of my job as an instructional technologist is presenting at conferences. I love sharing my enthusiasm with others! Today I presented a session on Edmodo (a social networking platform for administrators, teachers, and students) at the annual Virginia Society for Technology in Education conference. The session was packed, standing room only, and the hour flew by.
After presenting, I was allowed to return to participant mode. Since this conference is one of the only conferences my teammates and I attend to receive our own professional development, I was excited to learn new things from other educators and technologists. I made it into the next room and got settled just in time for the presentation to begin.
Not even five minutes into the session, I could tell there would be issues. Apparently this particular room was the infamous black hole for wireless Internet and it seemed everyone was having difficulty accessing the resources due to this limitation. Most people handle this setback in stride (even if slightly irritated on the inside), but in this particular session there was one gal whose frustration had reached a boiling point. You could see her from a distance, huffing and puffing, making not-so-quiet comments under her breath… and with each passing minute her anger was rising to a crescendo.
While I knew there was absolutely nothing I could do about the wireless issue, I still felt obligated to do something (anything!). The other participants sitting near her were visibly disturbed by her erratic outbursts and I did not want the actions of this one gal to negatively impact those nearby (or the session presenter!)
There was an empty chair beside the disgruntled lady, so I took it upon myself to sit there and become her very own sounding board. I quietly packed up my belongings and moved to the seat beside her. “Is there anything I can help you with?” I whispered as quietly as I could so as not to disturb those around me. Well, that intro question was all she needed to rant and rave about allllllll the issues in her life. Keeping our voices to a minimum, I listened to her problems, then nodded my head consolingly as she described her frustrations. By the time this session was over, the lady was smiling as she thanked me for listening. She even apologized for being so irritated at the beginning. Realizing I had just sacrificed an entire hour of my own learning time, I just laughed and replied, “We’ve all been there. It’s OK.”
I really think she just wanted to be heard. Because having someone take the time to listen validates your world. 🙂
After the conference, I decided to surprise my best friend (whom I hadn’t seen in 5 months!). I took her out for a quick dinner at a local Chinese restaurant and a Starbucks for dessert, all the while listening to her frustrations of the day. By the end of our visit, she was all smiles, too, as she thanked me for being a friend to listen to her struggles.
It was then that I opened my fortune cookie from the dinner.
Wow! What a fitting fortune! It made me smile knowing that my little acts of kindness today may not have been sweeping grand gestures, but were still important because they came from the heart.
I hope you will find a way to bless someone today, even if it is only to stop and lend a listening ear. We are all in this together, so the more we take time to look after one another, the happier a place it will be!
Be blessed my friends!