All About Listening

His Ability to Listen

Hearing and listening are two different things. You can hear a siren; you can hear your neighbor berating each other. Unless you are waiting for an ambulance or you are looking for another topic to gossip about, then you are not listening. Listening takes great effort. Whenever my wife and I are in the car that is when we have some of our best conversations. As she is talking, sharing with me her most life changing idea, then at a pivotal point in the conversation, she decides to invite my input by asking what do you think. At this juncture of the conversation will decide if I have a future with her or not. I need to choose my next words carefully. What if I were to say could you repeat what you just said honey, then that will prove that I was not listening. Where was I all along? How will she feel? Well for one she is going to internalize this issue by thinking that she is not important.

Work Environment

The same principle can be applied to the workplace. A good leader will always be a good listener. Imagine that one of your team members has a problem or an idea they need to share with you. So, this team member mustered up some bravery to reveal what is in their heart. After they are finished sharing, what you do next will determine your success in this company. If your response proves that you were not listening, and this is the culture you have created in your work environment, your greatest asset which is your team will no longer be a team or your team. Yes, both you and they will work in the same building, but you are no longer a team. Their priority is to do the bare minimum and to watch the clock.

John Maxwell illustrates it very well. As soon as the clock hits leaving time, the only thing you will see inside the workspace are papers floating in the air from how fast they left the building. If you should look through the window, there would only be leaves floating. You may wonder how come they can leave so fast, well that is because as soon as they arrive at work, they back their cars into the parking space. They are already thinking about leaving.

Steps To Good Listening

So how do you listen? As they are speaking, you want to be looking them in the eye or at whatever they are showing you. But do not steer. You want to be nodding your head where ever you can agree but not like a bobble head. Sometimes you can nod your head at areas that you do not agree; this does not mean that you agree with them. Instead, you are saying that you hear what they are saying and you understand. Use words like “yes” this will let your team know that you are listening. Ask question as they are sharing, this will confirm to your team that you are following along. Do not interrupt and take over the conversation. This is their moment allow them to run the show. If you must comment, start with words like, “so what you are saying is… ” but keep it brief. When they solicit your input or if you see a problem with the idea start with words such as what if we were to do it this way or that way so that… “ I must encourage you that you are not losing power or face by asking your team member what they think. Instead, you are empowering them and confirming to them that they are a valuable player.

At the end of this conversation, your team member will walk away thinking that you are the greatest leader. That you do care, and that they are in a place where they are valued. They will go the extra mile for you if needed; they will defend you if needed. They won’t even notice that there is a clock on the wall.

Tips To Solved Your Conflict

When we’re in a conflict, we tend to think that the best way to resolve it is to stick with our point of view as strongly as possible. We’ve been taught that one of us is going to win and the other is going to lose, and we don’t want to be the loser. There’s often a feeling that losing means doom and so we fight desperately to keep to our position. Strangely, the reality is that this strategy doesn’t often work, especially if you’re trying to be part of a long-term relationship-be it romantic, business organization, parent-child, friend-to-friend, whatever.

What if there were a way that had a higher percentage of actually resolving problems and conflicts? There is! I learned it a long time ago. It comes from Process Work, developed by Arnold Mindell, Ph.D.-a kind of therapy I specialized in for a long time.

The “Three-Legged Stool” of Conflict Resolution

Think of a conflict as having three basic positions: my position, your position and the “objective observer” position.

In relationship conflict of any sort, your first job is to notice in which position you’re starting. Are you actually advocating for your own position-“My Position” or are you-without knowing it-advocating for the other person’s position-“Your Position” in the figure? How can you tell? Well, let’s say the conflict is between yourself and your partner about whether to buy a new car or a used car. Your partner wants a new car and you think you should save money and buy a used car. Your argument is that you need to save money for the future and for other things and that if you buy a used car, that money will still be there. In that case, you’re already in “My Position.” But if you’re saying, “I know you think buying a new car is better because it will last longer,” you’re in “Your Position,” that is, for the moment, you’re taking your partner’s point of view.Which position are you in now?

Standing for the Position You’re In

Whatever position you find yourself in, take it over as fully as you can. In the example above, “My Position” might be: “It’s important to me that we’re prudent around what we spend and take the long view. To think about our priorities, to think about what’s most important and less important.”

If you find yourself in your partner’s position, “Your Position” above, you can stand for that position: “I know you want to buy a car where you know it doesn’t have hidden problems that might end up costing a lot to repair.”

Helping the Other Person Stand for Their Side

If you find yourself in “My Position,” and you’ve stood for it, then it’s important to help the other person stand for their position, expressing it as fully as possible. You can start by asking the other person to tell you what they’re thinking or feeling. If they get stuck or are afraid they’ll get shot down, you can start them off by taking their position, as above.

Maybe your partner’s “My Position” would be: “I AM thinking about the future and about priorities! If we get a new car, it’ll last longer and we won’t have to spend money on either another car or on repairs. How about if we look into new cars, see how much they cost. And we can also think about what things we need to spend money on and make a budget.” Either you or your partner can express this position.

Anticipating the Other’s Concerns Helps with Relationship Conflict

Your partner can help her or his position by also taking your position and anticipating what your worries might be: “I know you’re worried that I might not be thinking about our future financial situation. That’s why I went through our IRA’s and our projected income for the next 10 years and have figured out what we have left over after regular monthly expenses.”

Switching Positions Helps with Conflict Resolution

With this three-position conflict resolution model (we’ll get to the third position below), you each switch back and forth between “My Position” and “Your Position,” continuing to express each position as fully as possible. You literally step in and speak as if you are your partner, and your partner steps in and speaks as if he/she is you. You each keep alternating between your own position and the other person’s position.

More and more information emerges, until the situation is deeply resolved. It’s important, when taking a position-especially the other person’s position-to really stand in the position and speak ONLY from that position. It can be tempting to be sarcastically in the other person’s position or to pretend to be in it while really coming from “My Position.” If you’re speaking from the other person’s position, really feel into it and, for the moment, speak as if you actually are the other person, or come from a place where you really relate to their position. You can do this by remembering when you’ve been in their position at some point in your life, or imagining being in it.

Objective Observer

The “Objective Observer” position can be really useful, too-for example, when you’re stuck and don’t know how to move further toward conflict resolution. You can each step outside yourselves and, in your imagination, “see” yourselves. Notice what you see and step in and be it. Maybe you notice that the “you” in front of you is feeling hurt and small. Rather than trying to counteract that and be strong, go back into yourself and really show how small and hurt you are, maybe by letting yourself cry or by rolling up into a ball, etc. Actually showing what’s going on can help, because, much of the time, we don’t see or hear each other’s messages if they’re too subtle. When we make ourselves more visible, the other person can react to what’s actually going on instead of what they imagine is going on. This often moves us toward resolution.

Using the Model For Inner Conflicts

This model works with inner conflicts as well as relationship conflict-times when you’re torn about something. First, figure out what the two polarized positions are. Notice which one you’re in right this second. Take that position strongly and deeply. Then literally step out of that position by moving your body over to face the first position. Feel into the other position and speak from it strongly and deeply. Keep going back and forth, trying to listen to each position. If you get stuck, or just need an overview, step into the Objective Observer position and notice what’s going on with each of the other positions. Then step in and-without judgment-do what you saw. This tends to help create solutions.

How You Value Yourself As A Friend

For me, the most valuable thing I have to give someone is my friendship. It is true and tested, it is not given and taken lightly, and it is there for as long as anyone wants it.

Over the last couple of years I have become more aware of friendships that went very deep and the ones that were only there for the sake of “what can I get from this” experience. These were the friendship that were only for a reason or a season.

Anyone who has worked with me over the years is well aware of my philosophy in relationship building. It is not something that happens overnight and it comes with giving before getting. A true relationship, whether business or personal, starts from a giving space rather than a taking one. I believe by giving, in return you will receive.

This not necessarily common to all from my experiences though. I have been very disappointed and hurt when friends that I perceived as close and dear to me, disintegrated as a result of lack of good communication and perception.

I recognise that all relationships come in for a reason, a season or a lifetime. For me, I endeavour to make them a lifetime, and always leave the door open if the other wishes to return. This does not make it any easier when the time comes to an end for whatever another’s reason, as obviously for them, their purpose of the relationship/friendship is no longer, thus the status change.

The reason for an encounter with someone may be just to teach a lesson and a once only experience. A season may be for a time from weeks, months or a few years, whereas a lifetime is a friendship that endures all, and is not broken by experiences. A lifetime friendship has no rules or expectations.

My friendships are the most important part of my life and to be betrayed goes very deep when it happens with someone I have held very dear. I love my friends, on many levels, for who they are and what they bring to my world. I appreciate and am grateful for the opportunities they give me personally to learn and grow. I do not let a relationship end easily and it is always the others option.

When a relationship goes to a deeper friendship, there can be a fine line on where it goes and understanding is necessary. I take people as they portray themselves to me, which is probably gullible at times and has maybe been foolish, but unless I feel and have a reason not to go there, my door is always open.

I ponder on the ability of some to close the door so very easily, with no concept of what is left behind. I wonder how different my life would have been if I was more discerning in whom I let into it so easily?

The new way of friendship building today via social media and texting has some very good advantages along with some disastrous repercussions owing to the lack of an ability to express oneself other than in black and white. Relationships need to have ‘grey’ in them and expression through feelings, facial features and body language, all of which are taken away with this new form of communication. No wonder we have so many challenges in this area, and I do speak from personal experience here.

The learnings via these mediums for me have been enormous. Although heartbreaking at times I have been left with a feeling of great loss as a result of one or more lives I can no longer impact for all our growth.

As a lover of people, what others offer me for growth has always been a fascination. We all have very different models of experience, eg our beliefs and values, which come into play. We can either increase our awareness of others and our own self-awareness by opening our peripheral vision to see things from another’s point of view, whilst looking deeper at our own internal map of the world and sees where there is a mis-fit.

As a friend, where do you stand? Are you a true or a false friend? I suggest that you consider the friendships you have now and how they fit into your world.

What is your expectation from your friendships and what is their perception of this too? This can be a good conversation to have with them so that you remain on the same page and hurt and disappointment does not ensure in the future. Remember though, that others hear your words from their own awareness and experiences.

I have friendships that I have been prepared to give without very much in return, owing to my ability to give unconditionally to them for their growth. With these people I feel blessed that I have the opportunity to be able to reflect and see what can be gained by my own self learning as a result. There have been times that I have wondered why any sane person would do this, and be hurt so often when there is little return, other than knowing that by being there, I am providing growth and learning for us both which others may never give.

If you have not had the learning experience of giving and being in community it is harder to give as I have learned that it is usually a learnt behaviour. Coming from many years of boarding school and community experiences I learned early about giving. I was fortunate to have a full family connection when I was very young, where sharing the growth of a child was imperative. With grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends on stand-by at all times, to take over when it was necessary for my parents, gave me different perspectives, which now I recognise as being my great teacher.

I suggest you review how you see your friendships and what you bring to the table for everyone’s growth. By doing this, you will learn much about yourself and how you function in the world today.

Are your relationships with people for a reason, a season or a lifetime?

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Healing Prospective On Friendship

I thank God for my childhood friend. I have one best friend (other than of course, my husband). Actually, I show her more of the raw feelings than my husband because of our backgrounds. We can tell each other anything and have it not be a shock. We have seen every emotion in each other. We have gone through childhood, marriages and raising children to adulthood.

About twelve years ago, I got excited about positive thinking topics. I worked hard on self-improvement and saw results. It’s only been in the past four years that I’ve had difficulty keeping up with it. There are a variety of reasons for this. The kids are grown now. My father died. I’ve moved a couple of times and left my career. It takes time to build new relationships. What used to be seen as enthusiasm as a young person can be viewed as annoying as an older person. Trends change and opportunities become fewer.

At least one thing the people on my caseload appreciated was that they could talk to me about almost anything. They didn’t have to say what they thought I wanted to hear. If they were agitated, I would say, “It sounds like you’re having a rough day. Let’s talk about it.” They always left feeling better than when they arrived. I miss those conversations, too.

Church can be awkward sometimes because on Sunday mornings, people are in a hurry and have families that need attending to. If there are individuals who are feeling discouraged, those feelings may not be addressed and an opportunity missed.

Whether in positive thinking, healing or prosperity teachings, real life can sometimes be glossed over. Yes, how we react to an event can determine an outcome. No, Santa Claus does not deliver toys to every child in the world. No, not every person is healed. No, not every determined, hard worker will see their dreams come true or become wealthy.

Smiling, thinking positive and “fake it ’til you make it” will not take away the pain of crime, war, violence, disease, injury or oppression. Standing up for justice, action and change can.

I’m glad that I have a friend I can be real with and she with me. We laugh, cry, curse if needed (in extreme situations), sometimes all in the same conversation. There is no faking it. This may sound strange but in a way, God is part of the conversation. There is more healing taking place in that moment for me than any other setting.

Step Relationships Can Be Easy

Creating a loving relationship doesn’t have to be as hard as you might think!

As most of us know, relationships can be very challenging. We generally enter a relationship with many unhealed wounds from childhood. These wounds easily get triggered in committed relationships. Our wounds include both our fear of rejection and our fear of engulfment, and when these fears are activated, we generally go into old programmed ways of reacting, such as anger, blame, compliance, withdrawal, resistance, defensiveness, explaining, threatening and so on. You might have been programmed with many ways of making your partner responsible for your painful feelings.

Love gets eroded when we continue to act from our fears and the resulting protections.

But it doesn’t always have to be hard! Below are the essential keys to creating and maintaining a loving relationship.

Relationships thrive when both partners feel safe to be themselves and to discuss problems as they arise. Partners feel safe when they know they can rely on each other to be open and caring, even in the face of conflict.

There are four choices you can make to create this safe, open connected relationship space:

1. Cultivate an Intent To Learn With Yourself And Your Partner

We need to be able to rely on ourselves and each other to stay open to learning about our wounds and our resulting controlling protective behavior. There is nothing that grinds love down more than controlling behaviors, such as those mentioned above, or behavior that is intent on avoiding your feelings – such as ignoring your feelings, judging yourself and your partner, or turning to addictions to numb your feelings.

If you are currently not in a relationship, then take this time to learn to stay open with your own feelings and learn what they are telling you, rather than continue to abandon yourself when you feel pain. Learning to stay open with yourself makes it much easier to stay open with your partner.

If you are currently in a relationship, do the same thing. Take time to learn to be present with your own feelings, with an intent to learn.

2. Practice Focusing On Kindness With Yourself And Your Partner

Just as an openness to learning is essential in creating a safe relationship space, so is kindness. If you were not brought up with kindness and you have been judgmental with yourself and others, rather than kind, then you need to keep the concept of kindness in the forefront of your mind.

Relationships flourish when loving yourself and your partner is your highest priority. For most people, protecting against pain has been their highest priority, so it takes much practice to successfully make love a higher priority than avoiding pain.

3. Develop Your Spiritual Connection

Relationships flounder when you make your partner your source of love. Your partner isn’t supposed to be your higher power – you have your own higher power and this is your infinite source of love. When your intent is to learn about loving yourself and your partner, and you open to learning about this with a source of spiritual guidance, you will learn to fill yourself with love to share with your partner. Trying to have control over getting love ruins relationships. Sharing love creates intimacy and connection with your partner.

4. Make Relationship Time A High Priority

One of the greatest experiences in life is the sharing of love, and this takes time. Learning, growth, intimacy, connection and passion are the natural results of creating a safe, open, kind and loving relationship space, and all this takes times. Spending connected time together relaxing, laughing, sharing and cuddling are essential for creating a long-lasting, thriving loving relationship.

Is all this easy? It can be when love is your highest priority. When you fully accept that your reason for being on the planet is to evolve your soul in your ability to love, it becomes easier and easier to behave in these four loving ways.

Why You Need To Meet Couples Counselor

Improved Communication
There always seems to be one person in a relationship that is simply not good at communicating their wants and needs. This often leads to misunderstandings and arguments. Instead of one partner constantly trying to figure out what is going on, a husband and wife will finally be on the same page.

A professional will work with both people to make sure that they can effectively communicate their needs and wants, and that they can understand what the other person is saying.

Decreased Risk of Divorce
Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. This statistic is startling when one considers how many couples are getting married daily. When a husband and wife see a professional regularly, they help prevent their marriage from becoming another statistic.

Counselling will help them work through problems as they arise in their relationship, make sure that they feel connected to one another and help both individuals learn the skills necessary to solve conflicts.

Learn What Makes Them Happy
Every person in a relationship assumes that they are aware of what makes their partner happy, but most people do not. Instead, they try to make their partner happy with the same things that make them happy. For example, one partner may be satisfied more with physical touch instead of words of affirmation. Because of this, they will often hug or kiss their partner, and they think this is the key to their happiness.
The partner that receives the physical touch will often appreciate and enjoy all the affection, but, because they want words of affirmation, they may not be completely satisfied with the relationship. Counselling can help uncover things like this to keep both partner’s in a relationship happy, and these lessons will last for the duration of the relationship.

Be More Empathetic
Individuals often have a hard time seeing things from another person’s point of view. When a husband says that they no longer feel wanted and loved, for example, a wife may get defensive, and begin to state all the ways that she shows him that she loves him instead of trying to understand his feelings and work on changing her actions. This is because she feels defensive, which can make it even harder to empathise.

Seeking a professional that is experienced in working with those in relationships will help both people learn to see things from the other person’s point of view more, which can save two people from arguing, hurting each other’s feelings and more conflict.

Often, people see couples counselling as something that is done as a last resort. It is something that people in a relationship do when they are out of options, the relationship is going downhill and they do not know what to do. It is, in fact, the exact opposite. Therapists can teach people the skills that they need to maintain the happiness of their relationship, cultivate a deeper connection, and guarantee that they do not wind up with more problems that they know how to deal with.