Tag: interpersonal relationships

Active Listening Is the Key to Communication

Do not listen with the intent to reply, but with the intent to understand. —Anonymous

 Listening is somewhat like an art form, and as in music or dance you only become proficient with practice. There are countless meanings assigned to the act of listening. You can listen with your heart, you can listen to your intuition, you can listen to mantras of religion or stories you’ve been told since childhood. The listening I am referring to is about how we listen to ourselves and others, which all of the above influence. Without sincere listening, communication breaks down, misunderstandings flare, and a sense of dread and loneliness can cause you to feel frustrated or anxious.

To lessen the problems non listening creates, here a few ways to develop and enhance your ability to listen. When you are truly listening to another person, find the takeaway. In other words, look to understand what that person is trying to say? Avoid reading into or interpreting, tease away your own biases. If what they are saying is ambiguous, murky or makes no sense to you, simply ask for clarification, or mirror to them what you feel their message is.

When you are actively listening, you will more than likely have questions, hold them until the person is finished. Often many of us are too eager to spew out our response, or wisdom, or opinion that we forget to fully hear what the other person is saying. If you find yourself preoccupied with focusing and crafting what you think, you are not listening. Or if you realize that your reply has nothing to do with what the other person is saying, you were not paying attention. Watch professional interviews, you can always spot an interviewer who is not listening by their response, it will be in left field regardless that the statement was right and center.

Naturally it is easier to listen to people you share common ground with, it is difficult and challenging to listen to those you don’t. Let’s put this in the realm of relationships. Your partner may have been raised with strict rules and there was little wiggle room for self exploration. You on the other hand had a family that encouraged independent thinking. You fall in love, but after the honeymoon phase, you find you are arguing over just about everything. More than likely, it is a lack of listening to each other…listening without hearing. Whew, that is a tough one. However, when you begin to practice real listening, you can not only muddle through tough conversations, you may actually begin to see resolutions. When you let down the defenses and say to yourself, this isn’t about me, it is about the other you can learn to listen with love, empathy, and a deeper understanding that leads to connection.

Spiritual leader Ram Dass has a plethora of quotes that remind us that listening requires going beyond our ego. “We are fascinated by the words, but where we meet is in the silence behind them.” It is in the quiet recess of your consciousness that the truth or impact of words reverberates. Words themselves are simply nouns, verbs, adverbs, tools with which to communicate. yet somehow, they can cut us deeply or be profoundly motivating. When you think about how people without hearing communicate it is interesting because they still use language just not necessarily words. If you have ever traveled to a country where English or your mother tongue is not spoken, you find that you can still communicate through gestures, although the risk for misconstruing someone’s intentions is much higher. The fact is, words are only part of communicating with another.

A huge part of learning to listen to others is listening to yourself. If you are constantly filling your mind and energy with some diversion, you cannot hear your inner thoughts or desires or spiritual guidance. Think about a time that a teacher, a friend, a mentor said something that resonated with you so deeply it changed your life forever. It was that time you spent meditating or pondering the words or intentions of the person that shared them with you that allowed you to see the truth and significance to them.

Learning active listening will change the way you communicate forever, and it will enhance your relationships and confidence


Dealing with Vexatious People

Each one of us has people in our lives that just make things a bit more difficult. They may be co-workers, acquaintances, friends, family members, or even our significant others. They come in many forms, but their behavior and their effect on us are the same—they drain our spirit, make us frustrated and doubtful. And instead of making our lives happy, many times, they make things less than easy for us in a variety of ways.

We all know them, we may even love them, but they’re not necessarily the best choice as a confidant or compadre for our long-term success. It could be anyone, even be someone that has been in your life for years, take a moment to reflect on how some of those closest to you impact your life—is their influence and existence mostly positive or does it tend to be a negative? It’s important.

If it is, indeed, negative, where do these feelings stem from? If we strive continuously to be a good person in our own opinion, and in the opinion of those that know us best, wouldn’t it make sense for most everyone to find that genuine goodness as a positive trait? Not necessarily. There are two key reasons why people may find fault with you, even if it’s not justified.

Sometimes, it comes from jealousy. They see what you have—your accomplishments like a strong family unit or great job security and they find reasons to make you feel guilty about your achievements or make light of their weight and importance. It may not be in obvious ways, either. A lot of time we’re unaware of that habit because we often either give them the benefit of the doubt or just aren’t even aware of it because we assume they care for us.

And if it’s not jealousy it’s fear. When others don’t believe that they’ll succeed personally, they can push those undesirable emotions onto others and it shows in their actions or attitude towards us. Many times, the distaste that person has for us doesn’t actually come from anything we’ve done to them, but more so, it comes from their perception of a situation and the opinions that they create from it. Self-perception is powerful. It may not be the universal reality, but it’s theirs, and many times, that’s a very difficult mindset to change.

So what can you do to save yourself some stress when dealing with someone like this?

Try being open and honest. Ask them politely but directly if you’ve done something to offend them—make sure to do this in private to avoid the person shutting down or becoming angry. If they feel embarrassed or put on the spot, you’ll lose the opportunity to fix the situation right away.

When you’re talking to them, keep it short and to the point. Stay on topic and use ‘I’ messages instead of ‘you’ messages. Avoid approaching it as ‘you make me feel this way’ and try ‘I feel that there may be something that I’ve done’— when you explain out loud to someone that you may have hurt them, even unintentionally, it may change their mindset and a resolution can come to fruition. It may not work with everyone, but it’s at least worth a shot—especially if it’s someone that you spend a great deal of time with.  When you take the leap and show them you care, they may soften their walls and start to create trust with you—everyone wins.

Working it out won’t always be that easy, however.  There are people that are sadly stuck in their misery and they’re hard-pressed to find happiness for themselves, both in their life happenings and their relationships. All we can do is try to do our best with what we’ve got, we can’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

What’s most important, is to be the best version of ourselves as much as we can, that way, within our own hearts, we’ll never have to question the reasons behind our own motivations or actions.  The ones that matter most will see that and appreciate and celebrate us for who we are, and we’ll have peace within ourselves that we stay on the side of what’s good and what’s right.