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.”

Change Emptiness to Happiness

So, instead of going to heaven, at last–
I’m going, all along. ~ Emily Dickinson

We frequently attempt to prove our value
to ourselves and to others through external accomplishments. We may get college degrees, lose weight or work eighty-hour weeks. We do this in order to make the emptiness go away or from a mistaken belief that it will result in happiness. But we get only fleeting glimpses of joy this way; the emptiness remains. Our real goal has been love and fulfillment.

Action is necessary,
but not sufficient, to fill the emptiness. Doing and accomplishing things does not create happiness. This will come only with love and meaning. The absence of love is toxic and debilitating.Content Woman It can however, be learned. Yes, it is better to give than to receive, but the experience of receiving is an essential foundation of life. By receiving love we learn to value ourselves. Self-love, then, is the seed for love of others and the prime ingredient that fills the emptiness. Only with the confidence of love are we able to embrace the possibility of joy and fulfillment. Do you frequently criticize yourself? Begin to embrace the fact that your mistakes are not a measure of your self-worth but a measure of your humanity. Rather than casually dismissing praise, practice accepting with gratitude the gifts of acknowledgment you receive from others.

Fulfillment does not come
with the achievement of goals; it is not a finite end but an ongoing process. It is the result of living in the present moment rather than in the illusion that some future event will result in happiness. The accomplishment of goals brings feelings of satisfaction and pleasure, but they are temporary and we soon revert to the same general state of emptiness or happiness in which we lived before the event. Goals are good as long as they are in accord with our true desires, a part of a meaningful life rather than an end. Certainly enjoy your successes, but don’t kid yourself into believing that success is in itself happiness. In the same way, failure is not an indicator of unhappiness; instead, it’s an indicator of change, nothing more and nothing less. Both success and failure are important elements of a joyful life.

Be true to yourself;
identify the people and things which are most significant to you and nurture them. Live your life with gratitude, enthusiasm, and a giving heart. Practice looking for the good in life, this is not an easy accomplishment, it takes considerable effort. Be fearless; know that both pain and pleasure are essential facets of life, not to be shunned. Accept them equally, but do not obsess with either. The result of this is increasing courage and confidence in the face of adversity. Surely, the emptiness will begin to dissolve; the path to happiness will be yours.
David Cantu
Marriage Counselor Austin, Texas
Change Emptiness to Happiness © 2009

Psalm 23:6

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

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