Don’t scratch it. Don’t scratch it. I kept repeating that mantra in my mind. I have a perennially itchy nose (which is not surprising when you see its size). When a community member came up to speak with me, she was patently distressed. As she started to share her troubles (which were profound) I listened intently. Unconsciously I rubbed my yet again tickly nose. She halted with an expression of confusion. “Why are you touching your nose?” she asked. I quickly confessed my idiosyncratic habit. She seemed hesitant to accept my explanation. Did she fear that I thought she smelled? I am not sure. All I know was that I was not going to touch my face again during the conversation. Of course that just made my nose more itchy. We continued our conversation and I tried to provide her with the little comfort I could.
This incident was a great reminder that even the most innocent of our actions can be misinterpreted. How often do we offend people in obliviousness?
The community member came back the next week and we talked further. I felt helpless in that I could offer no solutions. All I could do was listen. Apparently, like the little drummer boy, it was something. She hugged me and wished me a merry Christmas.
This Christmas give the gift of listening, without scratching your nose.