February, 2010:

Three Techniques To Improve Listening Skills: Listen to Connect

There is a time and a place to share your opinions. You have developed your perspectives from the many experiences you have gathered throughout your life. The lessons you have learned allow you to be of service to others who may benefit from your knowledge. In order to impart this information effectively, you must first be able to listen.

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”

~ Ralph Nichols

I am willing to bet you have never gotten into trouble for listening too much! In fact, your ability to be consciously attentive is what enables you to connect with those you love on a much deeper level. When you take the time to truly listen to whoever is speaking to you, the necessary response (if any) becomes clearer. Clarity is created for both of you when you are present for someone who needs to talk.

Connections are more easily made by effective listening

Techniques to improve listening:

  • Make eye contact, or if you are on the phone, turn off the TV, computer and take time out during your conversation to give your full attention.
  • Don’t try to “read between the lines.” If you aren’t sure about something, ask for clarity. Curiosity can create clarity for both of you.
  • Let go of any judgment you may have about the conversation. See it as an opportunity to connect with another person, instead of a debate.

Listening is a skill to practice. It can be difficult at first, so go easy on yourself. Just keep practicing because if close connections are a priority for you, it is definitely something worth doing well.

Photo by: bisgovuk via: Flickr

Those Who Serve Are Responsible

Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something: they’re trying to find someone who’s going to make them feel good.  In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take.”  ~Anthony Robbins

It is difficult to realize that no one else is, or can be, responsible for your happiness. Although you may convince yourself that it is impossible to feel complete without the link to specific individuals, it is this system of beliefs that will limit you from reaching your potential.

You always have something to give.  Your perceptions, experiences, and wisdom carry the power and insight to change the world.  When you share your knowledge with others, the bond you create is lasting.  It is the person who sits and waits to be served who is always left disappointed and unfulfilled.

Here are some simple steps you can use to realize your power and positively change your relationships (no matter how down on yourself you may be):

  • Write down your area of expertise. (If there is more than one, great! If you can’t think of one, write down the first thing that comes to mind.)
  • Write down someone you know who could benefit from your knowledge. (If not one individual, perhaps a group you could help.)
  • Commit to a time and develop a plan as to how you will sit down and share with this person (or group.)

Keep this really simple.  Chances are, the person you could help the most is around you all of the time.  Remember it is about you giving. Don’t concern yourself with how you are received; it is none of your business what others think of you.  Build your relationships on your own terms. Begin with an attitude of service and you will immediately feel better about yourself and the gifts you came to share.

Commit to Supportive Relationships

*This post previously appeared as an article in my weekly e-mail entitled: Weekly Perspectives. The video version is below.

“Nothing limits achievement like small thinking; nothing expands possibilities like unleashed imagination.” ~ William Arthur Ward

It is hard to deny that so much of success and happiness is based on having the proper mind-set. Most are aware that a positive attitude is key to the expansion of forward thinking. Of course, optimism alone accomplishes nothing. One must be willing to take action to ensure progress.

In order to connect with limitless possibility it is necessary to commit to creating supportive relationships. This can involve many challenges because supportive doesn’t always mean comfortable. A regular evaluation of an individual’s relationships can create an environment of movement.

A Simple Assessment

  • Does this relationship challenge my ideas?
  • Do conversations support expansion of thinking or suppression of ideas?
  • Does this relationship encourage compassion?

Answers to these questions can provide tremendous insight into the condition of any relationship. With this awareness a person can find a specific direction to go in to continue personal growth. Expanded comprehension certainly shifts attitudes, inspires action, and strengthens resolve.

Your Responsibility in Relationships

Fear and negativity are fed by false and negative beliefs about the motives of other people. As a result of these limiting and fearful beliefs, many people use flawed definitions of relationships, such as “Relationships are hard work” and “Relationships are 50/50,” to justify isolation and loneliness. If we see other people as enemies who are trying to take advantage of us, then it will be very difficult to feel a true sense of connection and closeness. When we are able to truly take responsibility for our decisions and actions, we can form definitions of relationships that are rooted in love and enhancement.

Relationships can certainly be complicated. When people come together at any level, there are belief systems, preferences, and motives to be acknowledged. However, the process of building and maintaining a relationship  does not have to be painful. Although it can be scary, and sometimes frustrating, building positive healthy relationships is one of the key factors in a joyous life experience. The biggest challenge is deciding whether you have the willingness to take responsibility for your behavior.

  • How you live and perceive life is a choice.
  • A close relationship consists of each individual’s 100%commitment to its success.
  • Flexibility is essential in building strong relationships.

Relax with the awareness that you are seeking ways to improve your ability to live a joyful life. The condition of your relationships will allow happiness to be your focal point. Even when challenges arise you will be supported and loved. As your perspective improves, fear and negativity fall away. The limiting beliefs you have held onto no longer serve the purpose they once did. The responsibility you take for the conditions in your life will free you from the need to obsessive with your fear. As a result, your life will blossom.