Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Listening Tips

Sixteen Commonsense Listening Tips - By Dr. Tony Alessandra

The reason you don't understand me, Edith, is because I'm talkin' to you in English and you're listenin' to me in dingbat!" - Archie Bunker

Archie was right about finding a common language or wavelength, but ittakes two to communicate - the speaker and the listener. Both need to makethe effort to understand each other. According to a French proverb, "The spoken word belongs half to him that speaks and half to him who hears."

All skills require learned behaviors and rules. The rules for good listening involve basic courtesy, sorely needed by Archie, and commonsense. Some of the rules may seem obvious, but it is amazing how many people forget them and unintentionally insult the speaker.

Often, without intending to be rude, your enthusiasm for a subject and your own desire to hear yourself talk cause you to forget courtesy. Another times you may be so involved with your own point of view that you forget to listen to what your client is saying; you just plain stop listening!
So, when conversing with another person, be aware of and practice the following rules:

1. Let others tell their own stories first. When others explain their situations, they may reveal interesting facts and valuable clues that will aid you in helping them solve their problems or satisfy their needs. By letting them speak first, you also save time.When their interests are revealed you can tailor your discussion to their particular needs, goals, and objectives and can dispense within appropriate conversation.

2. It is impossible to listen and talk at the same time. This basic rule of effective listening is most often broken, especially by Archie Bunker. People anxious to add their own views to the conversation try to interject comments while another person is speaking. They wait for a pause in the conversation and "rapid fire'' their comments at the other person. This interjection of random comments is irritating to the speaker and actually slows the conversation because the initial speaker must dodge the comments and still keep his train of thought. Why not wait until the speaker's point is made? Then you will have your chance.

An enormous benefit of listening to your client is that he may "sellhimself." He may solve his own problems or even come up with some product benefits that hadn't occurred to you. In addition, encouraging the client to talk keeps him from feeling pressured into a sale. Building confidence and reducing tension strengthen the trust bond between you and your client.

A client who "sells himself" is likely to be more fully committed and less likely to have "buyer's remorse." He may become a staunch defender of your product, be open-minded in future dealings, and be more likely to listen to you.

3. Listen for the main ideas. Specific facts are only important as they pertain to the main theme. They can cause misinterpretation if taken out of context. Relate stated facts to the arguments of the speaker and weigh the verbal evidence used. Take advantage of the superior speed of thought over words and periodically review a portion of the discussion that has already been completed. A good listener also tries to guess the points the speaker will make. Ask yourself: "What is the speaker getting at?" or "What is his point?" Then get feedback. If you guess correctly, your understanding is enhanced, and your attention is increased. If you are incorrect, you learn from your mistake.

4. Be sensitive to your emotional deaf spots. Deaf spots are words that make your mind wander or go off on a mental tangent. They set off a chain reaction that produces a mental barrier inyour mind, which in turn inhibits the continued flow of the speaker'smessage. Everyone is affected by certain words so it is important to discover your own individual stumbling blocks and analyze why these word shave such a profound effect on you.

5. Fight off distractions. Train yourself to listen carefully to your customer's words, despite suchexternal distractions as a ringing telephone, passersby, or other officenoise. Localized distractions, such as the idiosyncrasies of the speaker,may also be irritating, but make a conscious attempt to judge the contentof the message - not the delivery. Focus your attention on the words, ideas, feelings, and underlying intent.Through practice you can improve your power of concentration, so that you can block out external and internal distractions and attend totally to the speaker.

6. Do not trust to memory certain data that may be important. Take brief notes because listening ability is impaired while you are writing. Remember - you cannot effectively do two things at the same time.Write notes in words and phrases rather than complete thoughts. All you need is something to jog your memory later in the day, and then you can recall the complete content of the message. Read your notes as soon aspossible to make sure you understand what you put down on paper and always review them before subsequent contact with your clients.

7. React to the message, not the person. Don't allow your mental impression of the speaker to influence your interpretation of his message. Good thoughts, concepts, and arguments can come from some of your least favorite people. George Jefferson planted the seeds of many ideas in Archie's fertile imagination.

8. Try to appreciate the emotion behind the words (vocal and visualmessages) more than the literal meaning of the words. Try to ask yourself these questïons when another person is speaking: a. What are the other person's feelings? b. What does he mean by what he is saying? c. What is his point of view? d. Why is he saying this? e. What is implied by what he says?

9. Use feedback. Constantly try to chëck your understanding of what you hear. Do not only hear what you want to hear. In addition, chëck to see if the other person wants to comment or respond to what you have previously said. Archie and Edith could have avoided many misunderstandings by simply using feedback.

10. Listen selectively. Critical messages may be hidden within the broader context of a conversation. Listen in such a way that you can separate the wheat from the chaff. Always ask yourself: "What is he telling me that can help me satisfy his needs, solve his problems, and accomplish his goals?"

11. Relax. When another person speaks, try to put him at ease by creating a relaxed,accepting environment. Do not give the speaker the impression that you want to jump right in and speak. Give him a chance to speak his mind.

12. Try not to be critical of the other person's point of view. Hold your temper and your emotional feelings and try to listen to truly understand. Be patient, Archie. Allow the speaker plenty of time to fully finish his train of thought. You might find that what you were initially going to disagree with wasn't such a bad idea after all. Keep an open mind. If you give the other person half a chance to tell you his views,you might find that you have learned something.

13. Listen attentively. Face the speaker with uncrossed arms and legs; lean slightly forward.Establish gentle, intermittent eye contact. Use affirmative head nods and appropriate facial expressions when called for, but do not overdo it.Occasionally respond to your customer with "uh huh," "go on," or "yes," to demonstrate that you are listening.

14. Create a positive listening environment. Shoot for a private atmosphere away from sources of distraction. Make the effort to ensure that the environment is conducive to effective listening.

15. Ask questïons. Ask open-ended questïons to allow the speaker to express his feelings andthoughts. A simple "yes" or "no" is not enough. Use development questïons like "How can I help you?" or "Where do we go from hëre?" to ask the speaker for more details on specific subjects. Clarifying questïons seek information by restating the speaker's remarks. These techniques demonstrate that you're hearing correctly. If you keepthe other person talking, potential ambiguities clear up. The effective use of questïons also allows you to contribute to the conversation.

16. Be motivated to listen. Without the proper attitude all the foregoing suggestions for effective listening are worthless. Try to keep in mind that there is no such thing as an uninteresting speaker, only disinterested listeners. Put out the extra effort to try to listen.

Learning to listen effectively pays off in stronger trust bonds and increased säles. Others feel relieved to find people who actively listen and try to understand what they have to say about their problems and needs. Once that occurs, the speaker generally reciprocates by listening when it's the other person's turn to speak. That leads to an open, honest information exchange, the kind Edith Bunker was yearning for. Isn't that what communication is all about?

Monday, June 18, 2007

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Saturday, June 16, 2007


1.It takes two to argue. If you do not give an answer, there cannot be an argument. Just say, "I will talk about this later on" and just softly repeat that phrase.

2.Arguments increases with the volume of the arguers. "A soft answer turns away wrath" (Proverbs 15:1). The more forcefully the other person argues, the quieter your response becomes. You will see the other side tone down his/her voice in response.

3.You don't have an argument if you agree. "That's a nice point." "I have not thought about this." "You are extremely right." Focus on where you can agree, not where you don't agree.

4.Admit you were wrong. No one is a perfect person. Find something to say you are sorry for, to take responsibility for. The other person will feel nice and may even own up to some mistakes of his/her own.

5.Do not accuse or attack. Don't say, "Why did you say this!" "You did this and that!" Ask questions, don't make statements. And ask questions with sincerity not as a cutting sword to make an attack.

6.Remember your goal! In married life, you want harmony, peace, a good atmosphere, love. Arguments lead to stress and anxiety, not peace and pleasantness. Tell yourself: I love my spouse, I love my kids, I love my money (divorces cost a lot of money).

7.Don't be foolish to show disrespect to your partner and to yourself by saying things that are damaging, mean or not worthwhile. You chose this person to be your husband/wife. This is the person above all others who has the qualities to be chosen over the other billions of people on this earth.

8.Turn the argument into a discussion. Don't defend yourself only; give an idea or problem to be clarified. People of good will who reason together can come to a common decision. Listen with an open mind. Be a judge, not a lawyer!

9.Ask yourself, "Is this argument really necessary?" In the end, whatever you are arguing about may not seem so important in the real sense.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Can't We Just Forgive And Forget

Offenses are common, and the offender usually wants to be forgiven. But the offended is usually reluctant to forgive, particularly if the offender hasn't learned anything from the ordeal.

But if forgiveness is difficult, forgetting can be downright impossible for many spouses. How can people be expected to forget some of the most painful experiences of their lives?

In every relationship you're involved in, it’s inevitable that something will happen in the relationship that will cause you to be upset with the other person or the other person will be upset with you.
Now, we've all heard the expression "forgive and forget" but we believe that "forgive and forget" doesn't serve you.
We believe that in most cases, you really don't forget and here's why.
Have you ever had the feeling that the harder you try to "forget" something, the more you end up focusing on it.
If someone says to you, "Don't think of the color blue" "Don't think of the color blue" "Don't think of the color blue," no matter how hard you try, you probably can't stop visualizing or thinking about the color blue.
The same thing happens when you try to "forget" a negative situation that has an emotional charge to it. No matter how hard you try, you just can't seem to do it.
We believe that instead of forgiving and forgetting, you have to forgive and let go. But let go of what?
In almost all cases when you are having a difficult time forgiving someone, you are holding on to an attachment of some kind or another.

The attachments most commonly manifest themselves in the need to be justified, the need to be honored, the need to be right, the need to be vindicated, the desire for revenge, and the inability to move past fear.

So when you are holding onto an attachment, what you are actually doing is holding onto a position which is serving you in some way but it is not moving you forward in healing the relationship.

Friday, June 8, 2007

What is forgiving and forgetting in a relationship?

1. Forgiving is allowing another person to be human for faults, mistakes, or misdeeds. Forgetting is putting these behind you; they are no longer brought up and no longer remain a barrier to your relationship.
2. Forgiving is letting another know that there is no grudge, hard feelings, or animosity for any wrongdoing. Forgetting is the lack of further discussion, with no ongoing negative references to the event.
3. Forgiving is letting the other person know that you accept as genuine the remorse and sorrow for actions or words that hurt or disappointed you. Forgetting is promising that this deed, whether of omission or commission, will not be brought up again.
4. Forgiving is accepting the sincerity of penance, sorrow, and regret expressed over a grievous personal offense; making it sufficient to clear the air. Forgetting is your commitment to let go of anger, hurt, and pain over this offense.
5. Forgiving is giving a sign that a person's explanation or acceptance of blame for a destructive, hurtful, or painful act is fully accepted. Forgetting is the development of a plan of action between the two of you to heal the scars resulting from the behavior.
6. Forgiving is the highest form of human behavior that can be shown to another person. It is the opening up of yourself to that person to be vulnerable to being hurt or offended in the future, yet setting aside this in order to reopen and heal the channels of communication. Forgetting is equally as high a human behavior; it is letting go of the need to seek revenge for past offenses.
7. Forgiving is the act of love between you and a person who has hurt you; the bandage that holds the wound together long enough to heal. Forgetting is also an act of love; in rehabilitation therapy, helping the wounded return to a full, functional, living reality.
8. Forgiving is the God like gift of spiritually connecting with others, touching their hearts to calm the fear of rejection, quiet the sense of failure, and lighten the burden of guilt. Forgetting is the God like gift of spiritually touching others' hearts with the reassurance of a happy and full life with no fear of recrimination, remonstrations, or reminding of past offenses.
9. Forgiving is the act of letting go of temporary ill will, disappointment, or the disgust that arises from the break in your relationship. Forgetting is bridging this gap in the relationship, eventually strengthening it against such a break in the future.
10. Forgiving is an act of compassion, humanity, and gentleness by which you let another know that she/he is indeed a child of the universe upon whom a variety of graces and blessings have been showered and that current or past offenses need not be a barrier preventing goodness and worth to shine through. Forgetting is the act of encouragement, support, and reinforcement by which you assist the other person to rebuild, reconnect and re-establish a loving, caring, healthy relationship with you, others, and the world whereby gifts, talents, and skills are freely appreciated and shared.
information compiled from Tools for Relationships by James J. Messina

Sunday, June 3, 2007


What is Ego ?
It is deeply ingrained, compulsive need to remain separate and superior at all times, in all places, under all circumstances, it is experienced as an emotional quagmire of fear and attachment.

It is part of you that is fully occupied in its personal fears and desires and lives only for itself. Ego is an anti –evolutionary force of powerful inertia in human nature, attached to the past, terrified of change.

On the positive note it is also a self organizing principle, that coordinates the different aspects of the self. ( Ref: Andrew Cohen home page)

Ego is very universal and Mark Twain rightly said : ‘There is'nt a parallel of Latitude but thinks it would have been the Equator if had its right !!’ The real problem is that if I am egoistic, I will never accept the fact, and that makes it difficult.

However, once a person becomes aware, once self realization dawns, the problem of over coming it becomes easier. Understanding ego is the first step.

For inducing Happiness, medical science has discovered drugs like Prozac, unfortunately for ego no such patented drugs are in the market. However, sages through the ages have dwelt deeply on the subject, and have applied their awakened mind and spiritual powers, and have handed down to us sure shot remedies to over come Ego.

As stated earlier Ego is deeply ingrained in every one, so how to control your ego ?

I quote a sage who said : ‘ If you find that you cannot drive off this feeling of ‘I’,
Then let it remain as the ‘servant I’ there is no fear from the ego, which is centered in the thought – ‘ I am the servant of God; I am his devotee’

A piece of rope, when burnt, retains its form, but cannot serve to bind, so is the ego which is burnt by the fire of supreme Knowledge.

The wise man always says, “ It is Thou, O Lord, it is Thou” but the ignorant and deluded say “ It is I, it is I”

I recommend the following ‘mind pills’ as medical science has yet to find some drug to combat the malady of ego. Hope it will work wonders with your psyche, and you will be able to control ego. The first one will surely prove very effective.

E G O stands for Edging God Out - Anonymous

When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package. John Ruskin

Attachment to things, keep alive a thousand useless ‘I’s in a man. These ‘I’s must die in order that a big ‘I’ may be born. But how can this be made to die ? They do not want to die. It is at this point that the possibility of awakening comes to the rescue. To awaken means to realize one’s nothingness. Gurdjieff, G.I.

The ring always believes that the finger lives for it. Malcom de Chazal

When shall I be free ?
When that ‘I’ vanishes from you, ‘I’ and ‘mine’ – this is ignorance; ‘Thou’ and ‘Thine’- that is true knowledge. Ramakrishna Paramhansa.

There are many such awakened thoughts that will help one control their Ego, but I will end here by just quoting one, which is a beauty.

Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.
Ralph Emerson.