Effective Communication & Listening – How to Listen Actively

For when you come to think of it, the only way to love a person is not … to coddle them and bring them soup when they’re sick, but by listening to them and seeing and believing in the god, in the poet in them. ~ Brenda Ueland

The first element of communication, speaking,
is impossible without the second, listening;Couple Woman Listening to be a good speaker you must be a good listener. We all want to speak; and even more, we want to be heard. When we become good listeners we create the possibility of a captive audience – people who want to hear what we have to say. In his essay, “The Statesman,” playwright Henry Taylor poetically expresses this idea: “No siren did ever so charm the ear of the listener as the listening ear has charmed the soul of the siren.”

Listening, however, is a big challenge;
even when we try hard our unconscious mind still thinks, “Soon it will be my turn.” We swim in an emotional hotbed of thought and experience, and it’s difficult to quiet its demands long enough to hear and understand what someone really means. Add to that the fact that the other person may not be clear about his own message!

Become a listening artist.
The art of communication is about creating and strengthening relationships. An adept listener strives first to understand others and second to create a feeling within others of being understood.Couple Sunset Your best goal is not to find a solution to whatever problem you may have with someone; the ideal goal is the tapestry of connection which is a result of putting aside for a moment your own frame of reference. A solution is much easier to find once you’re on the same page. To become competent at listening, learn to remain in the listener role until you have a “meeting of minds.” Respond and speak, but remain in the listener role. This means you don’t get to express your point of view! What you have to say may be important, but don’t do it until you’ve created a bond, a sense of oneness.

We sometimes struggle
acknowledging someone’s point of view out of fear of losing our identity or fear that we may somehow become compromised. Recognition of someone’s ideas doesn’t require agreement; its intention is a dance of understanding. Acknowledging someone with sincerity puts him at ease, helps him feel less vulnerable, more open. We often become defensive, feeling that someone is attacking us. Approach communication with the notion that another’s beliefs are merely that; they are her personal ideas, and as such don’t have anything to do with you or anyone else. In “The Four Agreements,” author Don Miguel Ruiz says, “Others are going to have their own opinion according to their belief system, so nothing they think about me is really about me, but it is about them.” His “Second Agreement” is concise and powerful, “Don’t take it personally.”
Couple Talking Lake
Create listening music.
Be curious; ask questions to better grasp the other person’s meaning. Don’t defend, justify, or criticize. Do not explain how your perspective is correct or why your actions were valid. Do not ask questions meant to invalidate another’s thinking or to validate your own ideas. Be authentic, not “sweet.” True listening is not a passive enterprise but an active extension of yourself into the heart of another, which in turn invites and draws him out into a song of rapport.
Listen; you would be wise!
David Cantu
Life Coach Austin, Texas
Effective Communication & Listening – How to Listen Actively (article) © 2009

Luke 8:17-18

17”For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.
18Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.”

The Recipe for a Happy Life: Happiness Is a Way of Life, Not an End

Happiness is at once the best, the noblest and the pleasantest of things. ~ Aristotle

Dance PartyNo single formula exists
for a happy life. We are each unique beings with differing needs and values. Many tools are available to aid you in living happily, many paths; but the foundation for that life includes a few essentials: love, virtue, effort, a clear mind, and meaning.

Chief among these elements is love,
without which life is empty – not romantic love (which can be tasty and delicious) but love of self. Self-love is synonymous with self-respect or personal worth; with it we’re able to receive love, without it we instead build barriers to others. Being able to take in love is the first step to giving love and to being happy.

Virtue is a challenge
for all of us! But its role in creating happiness is made clear in the words of Confucius: “Virtue is never left to stand alone. He who has it will have neighbors.” Living a life of virtue is a safety net for everyone on the path to becoming a joy magnet because it connects us firmly to our community. It is a synonym for giving and love, the golden rule.

True effort is required
to achieve any worthwhile objective in life, but it must be made with the correct goal in mind. Many people work diligently but make hardly any progress. Whether you call it joy, peace, or freedom, know that your goal is great happiness. See your life as one giant experiment. Life is a struggle full of landmines, there is no doubt about that. Develop the determination to overcome challenges. Bill Reidler, one of my best teachers, once gave a friend excellent advice about this: “Pick something and be willing to really screw it up!” He meant for her to take risks, to dare to live a noble, most excellent life.

MeditationA clear mind is the light
that guides us to fulfillment. Perhaps this is the most difficult of the happiness requirements for anyone to implement. I believe the reason for this is that it is very hard for us to step out of our own skin, to see ourselves as we really are rather than how we imagine ourselves to be. I also believe clarity of mind can be learned; it can be practiced. The best tools for this are daily doses of humility, listening, and meditation.

These four ingredients
– love, virtue, effort, and a clear mind – give our lives substance and direction. Yet they are not enough; meaning is still lacking. To be happy you must be true to yourself; you must seek and live that which makes your heart sing. Your life and your work must be significant – to you. Treat yourself also to the pleasures of life. A hedonistic life is fun and seductive, but will never suffice to create happiness. However, a life bereft of pleasure won’t either. We should be passionate both about our work and about those things that make us feel good: the myriad sensations and sweetness of nature.

In the book “Happier,” Harvard professor Tal Ben-Shahar
Mountain Climbingsays, “Becoming happier is a lifelong pursuit.” He makes the point that we do well to approach fulfillment as a process rather than a finite end. A clearly defined goal creates for us the freedom to live the goal. We know where we’re going and we have the tools; now we can stop obsessing or worrying about it and get busy living it.
David Cantu
Marriage Counselor Austin, Texas
Happiness Is a Way of Life, Not an End (article) © 2009

Ecclesiastes 1:12,13

I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.

X