I listen for a living. Over the years, I’ve developed my ability to listen into what people say and – sometimes more importantly – what they don’t say. My ability to listen closely to my clients is a big part of how I help them get the results they seek.
Really listening to what people say has changed my life in many ways. Over time, I’ve witnessed many unique experiences, feelings, and thoughts behind a person’s individual perspective. This has strengthened my compassion and broadened my world-view.
This week I’d like to explore the art of listening and how it can change your life for the better.
Learning to Listen Can Change Your Life
Listening is central to creating relationship. When you deeply listen to what someone says, they feel cared about and understood. People who feel cared about and understood will undoubtably change your life for the better. However, the real impact of listening is how it changes you.
During our lifetime, we hit a million instances of misunderstanding. In fact, most of us spend a lot of time feeling misunderstood. Regardless of how much each of us might try, it’s virtually impossible to easily navigate the myriad of perspectives contained in each person with total understanding.
This is why it feels so good when we come across someone who is willing to really listen to us. When a person listens to what we say, they show us they care. They demonstrate their desire to know what we think and feel. They want to understand. Their willingness to be present to our thoughts and feelings encourages our loyalty. The payoff is that we’re much more likely to go to bat for someone who has worked hard to understand what we’re all about.
But, truth be told, there is a greater benefit to listening well. When we learn to listen, we stop – or at the very least decrease – the amount of misunderstanding there is in the world. The simple act of listening contributes to everyone’s overall sense of connectedness and wellbeing. Here’s how this happens –
We learn to see other points of view:
Each of us live in a bit of a bubble. Even the most reflective of us spend the majority of our time reinforcing our established beliefs. If we do not try to see things through other people’s eyes, well, we just don’t. In the best case scenario, this entrenchment in our own perspective leads to misunderstanding. In the worse case scenario, this mode of myopic thinking contributes to things like hate-crimes and wars. Yet, our ability to see other people’s points of view can have powerful and lasting effects. It can inspire innovation and change the course of cultures.
We develop our ability to empathize:
To “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” is a standard piece of wisdom for a really good reason. While seeing another’s point of view can be helpful for creating intellectual understanding, empathizing helps us feel into the emotional factors that guide other’s beliefs. Empathy forms a “human” bond. It allows us to disagree and still relate to other person’s emotional experience. This increases our desire to find solutions that benefit both parties.
We stop the cycle of reaction:
When we chose not to listen, understand or empathize, we’re likely to get caught up in reactivity. In these moments, we will inevitably disagree or get triggered by another person’s actions. If we don’t stop to listen or try to promote mutual understanding, we’re likely to react to what is being said versus responding to it. This makes matters exponentially worse. Listening helps us break the cycle of reaction and creates new outcomes.
We see our limitations:
If we have enough ego-resilience, we can deal with being wrong and we recognize that we are limited – just like everyone else is. Listening to others and suspending our judgments can help us recognize our own limitations and support us to grow and change in positive ways. The very first limitation that listening is likely to reveal is our need to be right. In order to listen well we need to put aside this need. Instead, we must chose to truly hear what the other person is saying.
We see our contributions to misunderstanding:
We often unconsciously do things that perpetuate misunderstanding Our default patterns can go unnoticed if we don’t listen to other people’s perception of us. By deeply listening to others, we can start to see how we have contributed to the challenges at hand.
So, if you want to change the world, you can start by getting quiet and listening to the people around you. Begin to let what others say and how they say it challenge or even change your limited ways of being in the world. And, by doing this, you may open up the potential for all of us to co-exist more peacefully.
Emotional intimacy is something that most everybody longs to experience. The feeling of a significant connection to another living being is an essential ingredient of your emotional and spiritual well-being. However, despite the importance of emotional intimacy to one’s emotional and spiritual well-being, creating and maintaining emotional intimacy with your partner can be oftentimes confusing, even a confounding proposition to undertake.
Just what is emotional intimacy? Emotional intimacy is a type of connection that exists between two people. People create emotional intimacy through open and honest communication—specifically, by expressing to your partner thoughts and feelings about who you are, how each of you experiences the present moment with one another, and fulfilling the emotional needs of each other.
Does such freedom exist in your relationship(s)—the freedom to openly express yourself without fear of judgment or retaliation? If so, what have you and your partner done to create such an environment? If open and honest communication does not exist in your relationship, what do you and your partner do to censure open and honest communication?
Did you notice that in my explanation of emotional intimacy I emphasized that emotional intimacy is the result of sharing how each person experiences the present moment. This is a specific critical skill that can greatly enhance the quality of your relationship(s). Being able to effectively reveal yourself by expressing how you’re experiencing the present moment is what enables your partner to know you, understand you, and most importantly be there for you. That, my friend, is what brings two people closer and closer together—knowing who your partner is, knowing what is important to your partner, and the willingness to let your partner express those things to you!
Your ability to express your thoughts and feelings about how the present moment impacts you enables your relationship to continually renew itself and deepen the sense of involvement you feel with your partner. Emotional intimacy deepens only when you are willing to share who you are and be open to your partner expressing to you who they are? So when you experience your relationship as being stale, when you experience yourself drifting away from your partner, when you find yourself longing for the type of connection with your partner that is nurturing, take the risk of creating a dialogue with your partner that enables each of you to reveal yourself to the other.
Bridge Builder’s Tips
1) Reveal yourself to your partner by expressing how you’re experiencing the present moment.
2) Keep it safe for your partner to express their experience of the present moment to you. 3) Honor rather than judge what your partner reveals to you about themselves and the present moment.
4) Acknowledge how you’re affected by what your partner reveals about themselves to you.
5) Express your appreciation to your partner for their willingness to risk exposing who they are to you.
6) Reciprocate with your partner by revealing who you are to them.
Want to learn more about how to create (and keep!) intimacy in your relationships? Listen to Dr. Kate’s next Real Answers Radio Show at 12pm EST on Thursday January 15th.
This article reposted from Alive and Well News
Networking has a bad reputation as a forum for superficial small talk. Yet real networking is about establishing mutually beneficial, lasting connections, one person at a time. And with my modern approach to networking, even you can shine and thrive at a board meeting, convention, or free-floating cocktail party.
The reason so many of us hate networking – and profess to stink at it – is because we’ve been futilely following the wrong rules. Rules that only work for a paltry 15% of the population and require us to be phony – a sure fire way to short circuit.
Networking isn’t about working a room or telling everyone how fabulous you are. Real networking is building meaningful, lasting, mutually beneficial connections one person at a time.
This new and improved definition of networking means being true to you; capitalizing on your strengths, and tossing aside ‘rules’ that don’t match your temperament. The book’s self-assessment identifies your networking style. However, here are a few tidbits designed especially for you:
1. Be True To You
You are better qualified to be you than anyone else. Stamp out networking advice that demands you behave in ways that drain you. Harness natural abilities as networking strengths rather than liabilities. Like to listen, not talk? Do it. Energize alone? Go for it. Prefer one-on-one conversation? Arrange it.
2. Realize Less Is More
Be selective. Go to fewer events and be more focused when attending – rather than dragging your weary self to every business opportunity and showing up like a networking prisoner.
3. Plan Your First Impression
Cognitive scientists say it can take up to 200 times the amount of information to undo a first impression as it takes to make one. Who has that kind of spare time? Not you! Show up with the best version of you, every time. You never know who you are meeting.
Many of us dislike networking events because we don’t know what to say to a group of strangers. Free floating through a room is a fast track to free-floating anxiety. What to do? Simple. Volunteer to help out. Voila! You have a purpose and something to talk about. Even better, you position yourself as someone helpful – proving how indispensable you are rather than telling everyone about it.
5. Get In Line
This strategy is brilliant. You walk into a networking event with nowhere to go and no one to glom onto. What’s a desperate networker to do? Get in a queue. Any queue. The longer the better! Why? A queue gives you a place to put your body and a temporary purpose in the world. There are only two people to talk with – the person in front and person behind you. There is a reward – whatever is given out at the front of the queue. And a natural ending – the front of the queue. Nice meeting you! Ta-ta!
6. Set Challenging Yet Achievable Networking Goals
Well-formed goals vary by personality. At a networking event, task yourself with meeting one or two people, not a dozen. And follow up (see #10!).
7. Show Don’t Tell
Rather than boring others with a canned advert of how marvelous you are, demonstrate live-time your fabulous self. Be useful and gracious. Greet others with a warm smile and leap at every chance to be helpful.
Rather than wandering cavernous expo halls at industry events, do your pre-work. Learn in advance what organizations are of particular interest. Spend more time with fewer people. Impress key targets with your knowledge of who they are and why you are a perfect match.
Ever sense your remarks just shoot off a cliff and crash to the ground? Who needs that kind of pressure? Instead focus on those around you, asking thoughtful questions. Network via a sincere interest in others rather than promoting your fine self.
10. Follow-Up Or Forget About It
If you’re not following up, you’re not networking! We forget half of what we hear within 48 hours. Write personalized follow-up within two days or risk having your brilliant remarks erased permanently from the minds of those you wowed. If you’re not following up, you’re not networking.
reblogged from www.careerealism.com
Most people like to think what they have to say is important. If you or I make the effort to share thoughts, feelings, or knowledge, then we want to believe the intended recipient is listening. But honestly, many people are too distracted to really take it all in when someone else is doing the talking. What’s worse is that so many just watch mouths move, waiting for the chance to chime in.
Great leaders understand the value of active listening and get the most benefit from what others have to share. They understand that if you want to be heard and understood, the first step is learning how to listen yourself. The following are actions shared by those who truly know how to listen. Integrate them into your conversational behavior and you might be surprised what you learn.
1. Be present. Being “in the moment” is not just for yoga or Grateful Dead concerts. If you are going to take in what someone is saying, you have to truly focus your mental awareness on the person. Push distractions aside. Give a person the gift of your attention. Put down the smartphone, turn off your computer screen, put down the book or magazine, and look at him or her with a neutral or pleasant expression. Most people are so accustomed to having half of someone else’s focus at any given moment that this gesture alone will make them feel important and it will allow you to actually hear what they are saying.
2. Turn down the inner voice. Internal analysis of any conversation is unavoidable and necessary, but often it’s at the expense of objectivity. That voice can actually take over in your brain to the point at which you are no longer listening to the person talking and instead simply listening to the diatribe in your head. There is plenty of time after a conversation to assess the value of what you heard, but first you have to hear it. One technique for quieting the inner voice is simple note taking. Writing down even key words or short phrases will force you to absorb the information coming in. Then you can process it on your own outside the presence of the speaker. As an added benefit, you’ll have a more accurate representation of what was actually said for later discussion.
3. Hold up a mirror. This is a technique many psychologists and counselors recommend to help alleviate conflict. When the opportunity arises, speak up and describe for the person what you have just heard him or her say. It is OK to rephrase in your own words. Be sure to end with a request for confirmation: “So what you’re most concerned about is that the new hires lack training. Is that accurate?” The speaker then knows you are paying attention and fully engaged.
4. Ask for clarification. During a conversation, hunt for areas of interest where you might further inquire. Without derailing his or her train of thought, ask the speaker to expand and clarify: “What do you mean by ‘interesting?'” or “Why do you think that is so important?” The speaker will appreciate the interaction, and you will gain better understanding of the person’s perspective as well as your own perception of the information.
5. Establish follow-up. At the end of any conversation, discuss and determine if there are action steps required. This check-in will alert speakers to your actual concern for what they said, and help them assess their own relevancy to your needs. Express appreciation for their sharing, and let them know what you found to be valuable from the conversation. Making them feel heard increases the odds they’ll truly listen to you when you have something to say you believe is important.
reblogged from Inc.com. For more articles by Kevin Daum sign up here.