Listening Well

Listening Well

Listening well is a necessary skill as it impacts the quality of our relationships with others. How many of us have heard our children, friend, and/or partner say, “Are you listening to me?” or “You never listen to me.”  With the listening we do all day long, one would think that we all would be so much better at listening.  However, many times we are only hearing the other person because we are too busy performing several other tasks at the same time. Other times we are deep in thought about our own attitudes, thoughts, and feelings  about the subject. Then there are times we are just too sleepy to listen attentively. And of course, we are all guilty of selective listening.

Listening well isn’t just hearing what the other person is saying, but also paying attention to verbal and nonverbal messages as well.  So how can we listen by concentrating on how and what they are saying as well as what they are not saying?  It’s interesting how the lessons that we learn in childhood prove to serve us well in adulthood.  Below is a song that some learn in preschool.  Next time you really want to practice listening well, try implementing the words of this song.

The Listening Song

Eyes Are Watching

Ears Are Listening

Lips Are Closed

Hands Are Still

Feet Are Quiet

You Should Really Try It

Listening Well, Listening Well

 

The Good Ole Days!!!

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Who remembers “the good ole days?” I admit that I am not old enough to have lived during the good ole days era. One of the current presidential candidates keeps referring to “the good ole days.” How he would like for things to be as they were during the good ole days. Who is the candidate? I am quite sure you all already know but for those of you not up to date on current events….it is none other the republican hopeful Donald Trump.  Now, there are several things that Trump says and does that give me pause and great concern but his rallying for the good ole days is over the top in my opinion. First, he accepts funding from a former red dragon of the white supremacists group the KKK, David Duke. And then he goes on the record supporting returning to the good ole days. Although, I am unsure if Trump thinks about things before he speaks….you have to wonder why would a presidential candidate go on record supporting racism? Is it for the extra publicity time or does he just not know any better? He is a P.R. person’s worst nightmare.   I do not think there is one minority that considers the good ole days….good! During the 1950’s and 1960’s (the good ole days era) minorities had little to no rights. Basically, the majority were satisfied because minorities “knew their place”……and if they forgot, there was a tree close enough for the hanging.  During this time African Americans had to fight for the right to vote, to sit in a restaurant with white people….. and let’s not forget education or drinking out of a public water fountain. None of things suggest good ole days to me and I most definitely do not wish to return to the way things were during this time. It was not just African Americans, that were negatively impacted by this era but the lgbt community as well.  By all means vote for who you think is the best candidate for president….not for the person in the limelight. I personally have no desire to vote for someone who has shown me they are a racist.

From Reacting to Responding

from reacting to responding

 

Being able to move from reacting to responding can be a challenging feat. Honestly, both seem pretty comparable because we often use the words interchangeably; but when using in practice, they are quite different.

Reacting is usually an impulsive, emotional action.  For example, your husband cheats on you. You are angry and hurt. You (react) retaliate by having an affair of your own. You are out on a date with the Mrs. Someone approaches her and is flirting. You are angry and feel disrespected. You (react) punch the dude in the face.

Responding involves simmering your emotional action with logical, critical thinking. Your husband cheats on you. You are angry and hurt. You (respond) take some time to yourself to figure out and explore what you need for resolution. Then you communicate this to your husband. You are out on a date with the Mrs.  Someone approaches her and is flirting. You are angry; you feel disrespected. You (respond) by letting him know she is with you.

Moving from reacting to responding is much easier said than done. But we are all accountable for what comes out of our mouth and how we treat others. The more you practice responding in little every day stressors, you are training your brain to be able to respond instead of react to greater stressors.

Some things that have been helpful to me:

1) Be aware of my body and thoughts.

Are your palms sweaty?  Are your teeth clenching?  Do you have balled up fists?  Are your thoughts racing? Or you can’t think at all? These are all precursors that whatever comes next is probably a reaction and not a response. Resist doing anything when you notice these signs. Take deep breaths.

2) Take a “time-out”

Walking away or ending a conversation is not weak or giving up control.  In fact, reacting often leads to being out of control and living with regrets. Taking a time-out allows for you to explore options and decide what is going to be best. Then you can respond accordingly.

3) Ask yourself, “what do I want the end goal to be?”

After reacting, we often reflect , have regrets and say “hindsight is 20/20.”  In the moment, if we take time to transport to the future, we can determine the best response.

 

What else may be helpful?

Social Media the new Communication

social networkingI recently attended an event on social media. We live in a world where social media is pretty much the end all be all. If you do not have some form of social media you are not going to be successful, or at least that is the perception. This particular event was on social media in private practice; this could also be interpreted into social media in business. Social media has taken over in the marketing arena. Even marketers whose livelihood revolves around their ability to sell products are using it as a tool. Social media can get a person’s name out in the world and therefore drum up business. There are many types of social media.

The main ones are as follows: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, WordPress, Pinterest, and especially Google. Social media allows people to meet people on a larger-scale that they probably never would have been able to access without it. It can be an amazing tool with unlimited possibilities. One could market themselves, their business, share big news, or just share thoughts. The internet allows the world to become as small as a city. As amazing as that sounds, social media also has its downfalls. It can leave a person vulnerable. Once something is out there in cyber space there is no way to ever get it back or control it. This is why it is very important to control what you put out there. People are able to go back in cyber space and find all kinds of information and now with the cloud- a backup system of all information, pictures, videos, and texts- available things are even harder to keep private. Though social media can be a wonderful tool….proceed with caution.

I’m Sorry, So Sorry

I'm Sorry, So Sorry Have you ever been in an argument and decided to concede?  You offer  an apology but it feels like it fell on deaf ears?  The person didn’t offer forgiveness and continued to fight in a war when you had already surrendered?   Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas describe this disconnect may be due to you and that someone may speak a different language of apology.   In their book, “The Five Languages of Apology,” they discuss these apologies:

Love Language #1: Expressing Regret  — I AM SORRY

When offering an apology, concentrate on how your behavior caused the other person pain.

For example, “I’m sorry I disappointed you,” “I’m sorry I violated your trust,”  or “I’m sorry I hurt you.”

Love Language #2: Accepting Responsibility — I WAS WRONG

When offering an apology, admit that your behavior was wrong.

For example, “I made a mistake,” “It was my fault,” or “There is no excuse for what I did.”

Love Language #3: Making Restitution — I WANT TO MAKE IT RIGHT

When offering an apology, make right the wrong you committed.

For example, “I want to make up for what I’ve done.”

Love Language #4: Genuinely Repenting — I WON’T DO IT AGAIN

When offering an apology, make a plan for change.

For example, “What can I do to rebuild your trust in me?”

Love Language #5  Requesting Forgiveness – I SEEK FORGIVENESS

When offering an apology, ask for forgiveness to show you understand that you were wrong.

For example,” I’m sorry that I yelled at you.  It was wrong, and I ask for your forgiveness.”

 

So, how do you figure out what someone else’s primary apology language is — ask them!

Ask them – Describe when someone gave you an apology that you felt was unsatisfactory. What was lacking?

Ask them — Describe what you think is the most important part of an apology.

Ask them — Describe what you thinks needs to be said in order to offer forgiveness.

 

Communication

 

Communication

The basic difference between being assertive and being aggressive is how our words and behavior affect the rights and well-being of others.–Sharon Anthony Bower

Sometimes we are un aware of our own power and influence on others.  Our professional roles and personal roles as parents or elders in the family create a power differential with others.  I wonder if God determines our level of power and influence on how we manage our current position personally and professionally.  How does being a Christian influence how we approach even those that seem to be against us?  It is against the cultural grain to show love towards people that we may be in opposition to.  I am praying God will help me to be more aware of how my words and actions affect my communication with others.