The Awesome Power of Listening

In the idyllic Victorian shore community of Spring Lake, NJ ten teenagers have stepped in front of a train – sometimes at the very same spot – and committed suicide since 2008.

The same train that took many of their parents to high powered and well-paid jobs in the bustle of New York City every day.

The most recent victim died in February of last year.  He wasn’t depressed although some of the victims were.  He was said to be a great student being raised by his father after his mother’s death from cancer.

Ten students dead.  Many in the same high school.

To be sure, in some cases there were extenuating circumstances, but the mystery of what would bring someone who seems to be happy to this early end of life remains a mystery.  Perhaps they weren’t heard.

Most times life goes on and people suffer in silence.  So how is it possible that we can miss problems this obvious?

We must become better at listening. 

We all want to be heard.  In a world packed with communications tools from phones to texting, the secret is to begin practicing the awesome power of listening.

Today.

“To say that a person feels listened to means a lot more than just their ideas get heard.  It’s a sign of respect.  It makes people feel valued”. – Deborah Tannen

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Do, Don’t Stew

People complain a lot.

Me included. 

But a surefire way to change the things we complain about is to change the way we look at things. 

Motivational speaker Wayne Dyer says, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.”

Have you ever heard someone say, “I can’t complain, no one will listen” after you said, “how are things?”

Instead of complaining, do something about that which rankles you. 

Take an action step.  Plan a way around the problem.  If the thing that irritates you is major, chip away at it.  For example, if you hate your job, consider devoting your time and energy to a well thought out plan to find a new one.  Complaining will just leave you wallowing in the job you dislike. 

In a relationship that is going nowhere?

Less stewing, more doing.  Come up with a plan with action steps to make the situation better.

“Doing nothing gets you nothing.” — Sean Reichle 

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Compliment vs. Flattery

Flattery: “You look great”.

Meaningful compliment:  “It was thoughtful of you to help me with the project.  The research you did on effective sales techniques made all the difference”.

One of the most potent tools to inspiring, motivating and appreciating people is to pay them a compliment that sticks to their ribs.

Here’s the formula:

  1. Recognize an outstanding quality in another
  2. Make a simple one or two sentence statement
  3. Then back it up with specific evidence to make the compliment memorable and meaningful.

Do it face to face if you want to see the great response you are going to get.  But the formula works on the telephone, email or Twitter.

Employees like it.  Employers love it because they rarely get meaningful appreciation.  Friends will value you more.  Children will boost their self-esteem as a result of hearing you appreciate them in this fashion.

Don’t get me wrong.  Flattery has its place.

But a compliment backed by specific evidence is a lasting gift.

“I will be generous with my love today. I will sprinkle compliments and uplifting words everywhere I go. I will do this knowing that my words are like seeds and when they fall on fertile soil, a reflection of those seeds will grow into something greater.”  — Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

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  • @rashke Thanks for the retweet!!

The Four Things That Matter Most

If you want to change your life for the better in 2013, you don’t have do anything more than master the following four things.

The things that matter most in life.

All you need to do is say them as much as possible. 

Please Forgive Me

I Forgive You

Thank You

I love You

(From “The Four Things That Matter Most” by Ira Brock, M.D.)

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5 Last Minute Gifts To Yourself

Since this is a record year for self-gifting, how about giving any or all of these gifts to ourselves.

  1. A pat on the back.  The one we rarely get but so deserve from others for all the good things we do all year long.  Better yet, create a long list of the things that deserve personal recognition and keep them handy on a mobile device or in a drawer for the next time a boost of confidence is needed.
  2. Forgiveness.  As hard as we may try, we are not perfect.  It isn’t perfection that should drive our existence, it’s the pursuit of perfection.  In the meantime, let’s take a moment to forgive ourselves for being human.
  3. Self-love.  Bluntly put, we cannot expect nor should we expect others to love us when we are unwilling to love ourselves.  Step one:  be grateful for the person we are.  Others will notice.
  4. Persistence.  As I point out in my book, Ted Williams was the last player to hit over .400 for a single season baseball batting average.  That means he failed 60% of the time.  In this way, life is like the game of baseball.  It’s not about hitting it out of the park.  It’s about times at bat.

As Ted Williams said, “baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer”.

Give these gifts to yourself and you will simultaneously also be giving them to those around you.

Please share this thought with your friends and family.

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