One of the cutest moments in telling stories to young children is when they start talking to you while you’re telling. They might talk about a character and especially his or her features and qualities, an action or object, a place or even an idea – taking part “in storytelling” and participating with their young capacity to express what’s going on in their imagination.
Sometimes they’ll pop out of the blue with something that seemingly has no connection to the story like “I… I… I have new trousers!” and insist on talking about it. Often people telling the story get disappointed, suggesting “he’s not listening” or they might think the child has a problem with concentrating.
He is listening all right. It’s just that the telling provokes self-elicited images, sensations and awareness that sometimes meet the text and sometimes doesn’t. It’s his brain and he’s talking to you about what occurred to him and made him want to talk – because you’re there. The child sees you as his voyage-buddy so listen, take part and then gently lead back to the story, framing the event without treading on it. If it doesn’t work – “close” the story and let go.
The same thing exactly happens to us adults but we rarely share out loud as children do. Somewhere along the way, social convensions manage to silence most of our non-linear and non-logical output when we’re in public. Remember that the next time you wish your employees were more innovative.