Sometimes the best inspiration is right within earshot.
Shhh… I Eavesdrop. Do you?
As a young child, I used to get called “nosy.” I was the little sister that used to hang out by the door of my older sister’s room when she was on the phone to listen in on all the drama she and her friends talked about. During long car rides, when my mother and father thought I was knocked out, I’d feign sleep to overhear their “grown people conversations.” Let’s just say, I’ve always liked listening to what other people were talking about.
I think my love for listening to conversations happening around me has helped me understand how to create powerful narratives, shape characters in order to create stories that people wanted to know more about.
So why am I telling you this? How does this relate to eavesdropping and inspiration? Eavesdropping or “people listening” is a great way to get creatively inspired. I do it all the time.
Here’s 1 example of how I’ve used eavesdropping to inspire me:
Every morning, I take a New Jersey Transit train into the city. My train is normally pretty full, so there are always lots of conversations happening around me when I sit down. The other day, I sat behind two women who were chatting heavily. I came in on this part of the conversation:
Woman 1: “I met my husband on match.com. The day before I had decided to close my account. I said to myself, before I close it down, why don’t I try something new? Who haven’t I dated? So I made a list of all the types of men and nationalities I haven’t dated before.
Woman 2: You’re kidding me!
Woman 1: I randomly came across his profile and saw that he was Indian. I said to myself ,”I’ve never dated an Indian man before.” I liked that he was really into his family. I messaged him and that’s where it started.
Woman 2: Wow…
Woman 1: It’s funny how things work out. Two weeks later, he came to NJ to be with me. We’ve been together ever since. At our wedding, I came in on a freaking horse-drawn carriage! It was a huge Puertorican and Indian wedding.
The two women’s conversation went on from there, but I was amazed of what the conversation invoked in me. How was their marriage? What did her husband think of the way they met? What do they do for fun? Thoughts raced through me. “This could be a movie,” I told my myself. I thought about alot of the pretty face-level themes that resonated from the story: Online dating, finding love, true love, interracial coupling.. that sort of stuff. I also thought about more abstract things such as fate and destiny. Were the two destined to meet? Was it fate that she “accidentally” found his page?
All those questions could be turned into something. A blog post. A short film. A campaign. A slogan. Possibilities are endless.
There’s alot of power in eavesdropping for creating inspiration (if done right). There’s a saying that strong leaders are the best listeners. While that it also true, I believe strong leaders are also great observers. They how stories are made. They understand what move people and what builds relationships.
The next time you need some inspiration, step away and step out. Go for a walk. Listen to the conversations that are happening around you. Observe people being themselves. There’s so much beauty around you. Find it.You are bound to find something to write about. You’ll be inspired and be able to inspire others.
REMEMBER: Recording what you hear or see is important. I carry around a notebook with me everywhere as a way for me to jot notes or anything else I may respond to during the day. Use whatever’s best for you.
Digitally eavesdropping via social media is another way you can “virtually eavesdrop” to get inspiration. What are other people talking about on social media? What kind of conversations are people having? I use screenshotting as a way to keep track of the inspiration that comes through my channels on the daily. if you scroll through my phone, you’ll probably see screenshots of very random things that mean something to me. (Note: This is why watching what you say on social media can be important. Someone’s probably watching you and documenting it!)
P.S – The only thing about eavesdropping is that sometimes you have to be covert. I really wanted to see how the woman who was telling the story looked, but it would have been super awkward for me to say, “Excuse me , miss. Can you please turn around?”
What’s kind of stories have you heard while eavesdropping that inspired you? COMMENT and let me know.
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