Listeners Blog

Monthly Archives: February 2013


Mind reading and fortune telling

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What if you could see the future or know exactly what other people were thinking? Not many people can do that – it’s an extremely rare and wonderful gift.

Even without clairvoyant powers, however, it’s easy to fall into the emotional traps of mind reading and fortune telling. And rather than enhance your life, these negative mental habits can cause lots of stress and anxiety.

Mind reading is when you jump to conclusions based on how you think other people see you. You assume others have a low opinion of you without any evidence. A conversation stops when you come into the room and you “just know” they were just then saying bad things about you.

Fortune telling leads you to predict the worst possible outcome of any situation. You were nervous during an interview, so you “just know” you won’t get the job, no matter how qualified you are. When you start to act on these assumptions, you can actually create the outcome you were dreading.

The best way to avoid these thinking traps is to talk through your issues with a supportive listener. If you ask yourself out loud why you think people are talking you down behind your back, you’ll probably hear how little sense that makes. If you can share your fears and doubts, they don’t seem so overwhelming and you can find positive ways to avoid your own worst-case scenario.

Find someone who can really hear you and help you put into your own words what is keeping you from finding your inner peace. When you do find it, you’ll know the future looks brighter.



Listening Effectively at Work

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Listening Effectively at WorkIf you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you likely spend time thinking about how to be a better listener for your friends and family, because you truly care about how they feel and want to help them talk through important issues. But if you’re like most of us, you spend more time at work, which may or may not be with family — or friends.

That doesn’t make active listening any less important. In fact, poor communication in the workplace can have a major impact on the growth and success of the organization.

Think about your last staff meeting. Can you remember what was decided or something important that you learned? Or do you remember checking your lunch plans or texting snarky remarks about how the boss was droning on?

You’re not alone. Nearly three-quarters of professionals surveyed by Wolf Management Consultants admitted to doing unrelated work in meetings; more than a third said they had actually dozed off. So it’s fair to say that they were not actively engaged in listening.

Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about a poorly run meeting, although you can use supportive listening techniques to enhance your communication with clients, peers and anyone else in the workplace.

Give whoever is speaking your full attention by making eye contact and turning away from distractions like pinging messages. Let the person know you are following what they are saying through nods and affirmations. Don’t interrupt, and don’t get sidetracked thinking up your response before they’ve finished speaking.

If the conversation is difficult or delicate – say, with an unhappy employee or a disgruntled customer – it can be helpful to repeat or paraphrase what you think you heard so that both parties understand they are on the same page before continuing.

Surprisingly, sometimes that’s all it takes to resolve an issue: Letting someone know that you are really, truly listening and trying to understand.



Being Both Empathetic and Real

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You want to be a supportive listener. You want to be there for your friend, you want to really hear and give the gift of understanding. But you’re having a problem finding enough empathy inside yourself to help them find their inner truth.

Maybe you hear them get stuck on a lack of material things that you don’t value. Maybe you think they are creating their own relationship conflict just to add drama to their life. Maybe you want to let them know that they have reached a cul-de-sac on their conversational journey.

It happens. We’re all human, and it’s difficult not to have an emotional reaction while listening to other people talk through their issues.

In fact, just reading about friends’ successes online can make us feel less satisfied with our own lives, according to a new study about the new phenomenon called “Facebook Envy.”

But here’s one fascinating takeaway about “Facebook Envy.” The people most likely to become jealous and frustrated are those who passively read posts and look longingly at others’ vacation photos without engaging in any active conversations themselves. Their passivity puts them in a position to be envious!

In real life, an active, engaged listener will let someone know when it sounds like they are taking an unproductive talk detour. They will speak up. To do this while still remaining supportive, you must first understand and be in command of your own feelings. Why does this particular topic cause a reaction in you as an engaged listener? Next, earnestly try to understand if there might be more going on behind the actual words being spoken.

Once you have that sorted out, it is important to let the speaker know how you are feeling. Honestly acknowledge all the emotions in play on both sides, so a deeply meaningful conversation can take place.

Helpful tip on managing emotions:

A “mysteriously” helpful exercise to lessen the awful feelings that accompany being envious or judgmental is to recognize when you are having either of these feelings and actually identify and say to yourself “envy” or “judging.” With practice, labeling these feelings becomes a powerful, helpful habit that can greatly lessen being envious or judgmental.

Let us know how this practice works for you.