Want to Connect with Others? Try Eliminating this Bad Communication Habit

Daily Quote: You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time. Dr. M. Scott Peck, Road Less Traveled

First act of Love is Listening – Dr. Carl Rogers 

“By consistently listening to others you are conveying the idea that: “I’m interested in you as a person, and I think that what you feel is important. I respect your thoughts, and even if I don’t agree with them, I know that they are valid for you. I feel sure that you have a contribution to make. I’m not trying to change you or evaluate you. I just want to understand you. I think you’re worth listening to,and I want you to know that I’m the kind of a person you can talk to.”

The subtle but more important aspect of active listening is that it is the demonstration of the message that works.
While it is most difficult to convince someone that you respect him by telling him so, you are much more
likely to get this message across by really behaving that way—by actually having and demonstrating respect for this person. Listening does this most effectively. one can learn that listening can be met with listening. Every person who feels
responsibility in a situation can set the tone of the interaction, and the important lesson in this is that any
behavior exhibited by one person will eventually be responded to with similar behavior in the other
person.”

Reflection:  Do you remember my post on the third ear entitled–Third Ear: Active Listening Techniques for Connecting with Others ?  Talk about disrespecting others I noticed a significant new distracting habit recently at a graduation party. People gathered around with drink in one hand and smart phone  in the other. You get the visual.  You can’t connect with others by half listening to them. Zoning out during a conversation by checking your email or taking a phone call is rude. You may think you’re being stealth, but the other person can almost always tell and it sends a message that they’re unimportant and not worth listening to. On the other hand, giving a friend, client, or colleague your full attention signals that you really care about others what they are trying to communicate. Futher more it is the polite and respectful way to say you are my top priority right here, right now.

Part III: Self Coaching and Career Development: Awareness and Commitment to Personal Change

Daily Quote:  “The degree to which I can create relationships, which facilitate the growth of others as separate persons, is a measure of the growth I have achieved in myself.”  Dr. Carl R. Rogers
Reflection: Developing effective interpersonal communication is self-awareness at its finest. It is all about developing a sense self-efficacy (belief) and awareness which entails knowing who you are, what you can do, and where you are now and where you want to go.  In addition to the above, you must have the ability to access and master self-awareness and reflective thinking by choosing to accept relevant feedback and your feelings or emotions surrounding decisions and taking personal action to change. Your success in self-coaching relies on using a “process and structure” that allows you to discover and choose what fits your needs, time and personal change goals and objectives.Self Coaching equates to the “soft skills” used in counseling such as  observation, questioning, listening, reflection, problem solving and choices. Most of these skills are encompassed in the popular Emotional Intelligence category of Self Management. But most importantly self-coaching can impact all important values and priorities of your life, including health, education, career, relationships and spiritual arenas.To get started with  Self Coaching you must make a commitment to personal change and then assess your readiness for coaching. This process takes a time commitment and a decision to risk exploring who you are and what you want to do in life plus examining life priorities and  values.The first question for getting started with self-coaching is why do you want to begin this journey of self exploration and development. The second question is to consider is what behavior or thinking patterns your want to improve upon. In answering these questions you will need to explore where you are now and what is important to you to live a more fulfilling and meaningful life. By doing this type of assessment you can start living a more self-directed life of choice.

Self-Coaching Challenge: To see if self-coaching is for you it is important to consider something you are trying to achieve right now such as getting healthy, increasing your social contacts or developing a relationship.

Start with translating your self-coaching challenge into concrete actions by answering the following questions:

  • Why is it important for you to achieve this personal change goal?
  • What is it you want to achieve?
  • What actions do you need to take to achieve this goal?
  • What barriers or distractions may keep you from achieving your goal?
  • Who could give you feedback on how you are doing in achieving your goal?
  • How will you know or measure your success in meeting your goal?

By asking these self coaching questions you pave the way for reaching your goal and if need be making adjustments required in your thinking and behavior to achieve your desired outcome.

My 30 day goal for personal change is to  _________________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Part I : Listening and Building Relationships with the “Third Ear”

Daily Quote:  “When people are listened to sensitively, they tend to listen to themselves with more care and to make clear exactly what they are feeling and thinking.” Dr. Carl Rogers 

1. Communicate so as to build rapport by showing interest, respect and responsiveness.Show positive regard and respect by greeting and attending to others needs.Trying to find common interests creates unique and supportive connections. For example, pay attention to what the other person is wearing and how they carry themselves. Always be ready to pay sincere compliments and ask open ended questions.

2. Be in-synch. With words, voice tone, body language ( use high and low tones, open gestures, eye contact) aligned with clear and concise message. If you find the place in you that is really pleased to speak with the other person and truly interested in what they have to say, you will be congruent in what you say and how you say it. People will clearly see your warmth and caring concern through your eyes, voice tone and facial expressions.

3. Tune-in with the Third Ear-eliminate external and Internal distractions
We can all sense if someone is fully “present” with us or distracted by other things going on in the environment.  Listening with the “third ear” means that you focused not just the other person’s words or content, but you are truly trying to content and emotional intent of what they are saying. To do this you must be sure that your mind is not distracted. Active listening requires you to stay with and be there for the other person, so please eliminate al noise distractions such as cell phones, televisions and other conversations or activities.
If possible, find a place with minimal distractions away from other people and activities so that you can fully concentrate on listening and responding. If you are doing something else when someone approaches you to share, choose to “drop” what you are doing and actively fully focus on listening to show the person they are important and valued.

4. Acceptance of others and building trust. No one has said it better than Carl Rogers in his book Freedom to Learn “When I do truly hear a person and the meanings that are important to him at that moment, hearing not simply the words, but him, and when I let him know that I have heard his own private personal meanings, many things happen.  There is first of all a grateful look. He feels acceptance.  He feels released.  He wants to tell me more about his world. He surges forth in a new sense of freedom.  I think he becomes more open to the process of change.”

It is easier to eliminate external noise than the internal noise in your mind that is thinking of other things, worrying about the past or future conversations or problems.  Eastern psychologists warn us that the mind is like a bouncing ball going in one direction or another. So we need to learn to quiet our mind, stop randomly jumping around  and to focus on where we want the mind to go and then the behavior will follow.

How to stop the “bouncing ball” and be attentive and actively listen? 
Many neurologists and psychologist suggest the practice of meditation, mindfulness and/or other western methods of focusing the mind with discipline, people begin to become the master of their minds and in control of the vast energy and power of the mind.  The mind focused on one-to-one communication is “mindful” and gives the person an immense power of “presence”, the power of focus, of attention, and really being fully present with another person in the moment

ELIMINATE INTERNAL PERSONAL JUDGEMENTS
We are often distracted by our own views and values, our own perceptions that cause us to judge another person from our own personal experiences and histories.  We cannot fully listen to another person if we are really listening to our own “mind chatter.”  We tend to listen “autobiographically” and perceive what the other person is saying through filters based on our own lives and personal experiences. We need to be less self-centered. The key concept is listening with a mind-set of non-judgment. Often we “selectively listen” to what the other person is saying with personal bias, listening for affirmations of our own views or judging negatively when we find differences. If we eliminate our own judgments based on our own lives, we can have the opportunity to experience empathic understanding of the other person and enter into their world, their perceptions and reality.
Be sure you are listening to the other person and not to yourself and your own perceptions of the world.  Full respect, positive regard and unconditional acceptance of the other person are necessary conditions  for becoming a empathic listening.

ACTIVELY LISTEN FOR UNDERSTANDING
As you listen carefully, what do you want to know to understand more fully the other person’s perspective?  Invite them to share more to deepen your understanding.  Ask “open questions”  and “door openers” that invite the person to share more.   “That is very interesting, . . “  Tell me more about . . .” How do you feel about . . .”

Let your body express that you are “following” and interested in what the other person is saying and that you would like to hear more.  Show excitement and genuine interest by using “encouragers”, allowing your body to express attention through positive and encouraging head nods, caring voice tone, warm eye contact and expressive facial expressions.  Convey genuine interest, enthusiasm and joy in trying to connect with others.

Practice:  Clarification, Restatement and Reflective RESPONSES
Once you have begun to sense the world of the other person, begin to reflect back their significant thoughts and feelings.  Listen to what they have just shared and find the most important feelings that the person has shared or the deeper meaning that may lie behind the words.  Use reflective statements to paraphrase or summarize what the other person seems to be thinking or feeling.
Check your perceptions by reflecting back what you think you have heard the other person say or perhaps what they might like to say or explore..  “Perception-checking” often starts with statements like “You seem to feel”, “I imagine you must want.”   You are not sure so you give “wiggle-room” for them to agree or clarify more fully how they do feel etc.  Your clear interest allows the other person to share his/her feelings at a deeper, more accurate level that fosters real contact and genuine communication.

FACILITATE CLARIFICATION AND CONCRETENESS
As you actively listen and respond, you will clarify the feelings and meanings of what the person is expressing or trying to express.  When you do not understand exactly what the other person means, paraphrase or summarize what you think they are saying and they will clarify their feelings for you.
In your reflections, strive to use clear, specific, “concrete” descriptions to deepen the level of understanding.  Being clear and descriptive communicates true understanding and leads to deeper levels of empathic two-way communication and sharing that can lead to improved  interpersonal connections and relationship development and growth.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Identify one person who you would like to connect with and understand more fully, then choose to practice one of the techniques listed above like clarification, reflection or perception checking. Take notes in your journal on what worked, what didn’t work and how you can improve your listening skills.

Daily Quote and Reflection: Trust Is…

Daily Quotes:

“Our distrust is very expensive…Self-trust is the first secret of success.” Emerson

“Being connected and personal is to be in the process of discovering and accepting each other…trust begets trust; fear escalates fear.”    Jack Gibb . author of Trust: A New View of Personal and Organizational Development

Trust is . . . is a critical part of being human.  It’s as simple as that. If we can’t trust and openly share who we are, our sense of self-worth diminishes—and we won’t trust others or ourselves ” Dr. Carl Rogers

Reflection: In another post I defined trust.

Here are some of my random reflections and comments about trust that I have learned in over thirty years of listening to and observing others when they are talking about trust.

Trust is …is being courageous enough to open fully to another and accept the vulnerability of this state of being…

The unexpected truth behind building trust, connecting with others, and inspiring collaborative action is belief in yourself and others “to do what they say they will do”. ( DWYSYWD)

When we are sincere and authentic we usually earn other people’s respect and trust. They begin to open up and now are more amenable to influenced and change.  Imposing our point of view only makes others defensive and resistant to change.”

Action Assignment: Complete the following sentence to get at how and why you trust others.

Trust is___________________________________.

Then reflect on your  sentence and try to figure out whether you give trust freely to others or they have to earn trust.

Daily Quote and Reflection: Are you reaching your Potential?

Daily Quote:

“The process of the good life is not, I am convinced, a life for the faint-hearted. It involves the stretching and growing of becoming more and more of ones potentialities. It involves the courage to be. It means launching oneself fully into the stream of life.” Carl Rogers

Reflection : My favorite wise man of interpersonal connections is Dr. Carl Rogers, father of the humanistic movement called Client-Centered Therapy. His humanistic approach to working with clients challenged Freud and Skinner as a thought leader because he believed in the potential of people not just focusing on their sickness or weaknesses. He believed in providing a client-centered environment where people could work on solving their own issues. here are some his favorite questions:–What have you ever dreamed of becoming?  What are the limits and conditions that interfere with you becoming  the person you want to be? Reflect on the most important compliments and praise you ever received ? When in your life did you experience unconditional positive regard?  These questions reflect the notion that Unconditional positive regard is a core condition to a healthy and vibrant life. Also a core condition is the acceptance and support of a person regardless of what the person says or does is the road to becoming a fully functioning person. To grow a person needs an environment an environment that provides them with genuineness (openness and self-disclosure), acceptance (being seen with respect and dignity) and empathy (being listened to and understood). Without these, relationships and healthy personalities will not develop as they should, much like a tree will not grow without sunlight and water.

Rogers believed that every person can achieve their goals, wishes and desires in life because life is not determined and predestined. I think his greatest contribution was the optimistic view that  we behave as we do because of the way we perceive our situation and experiences in life. “As no one else can know how we perceive, we are the best experts on ourselves.” When a person is self-aware and clear on their strengths and weaknesses and acts to always keep growing or becoming , we are congruent and self actualization can take place.

Activity: So the question to reflect on today is that if you believe that within every person there is a “best self” capable of goodness, happiness, and choices what is standing in your way from creating the best you can be?