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These 12 Things Would Happen When You Can Enjoy Being Alone

These 12 Things Would Happen When You Can Enjoy Being Alone

Lets face it, we live in a society where our value is judged by the radius of our social circle. A society which rewards the hyper-social and labels loners as weird and withdrawn. Admittedly whilst having a strong social group is beneficial to our health both physically and psychologically, those who can enjoy being alone in addition to social situations will become the happiest people out there.

In honesty, if you can’t enjoy being alone then you’re probably not doing anything important in life. Here are some reasons why.

1. You’ll Become Familiar With Exactly Who You Are

Anyone who spends a significant length of time alone will tell you of the enlightening effect it can have. When you’re alone and in silence, the voice in your head grows louder and more revealing.

It compensates for the lack of input usually made by other people, and eventually — if you listen to it — you’ll know your character on a much deeper level. Who said mindfulness was a social practice?

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2. You’ll No Longer Need Others to Be Happy

Let’s think this for a second. Who is more normal, someone who needs to remain around others to be happy, or those who can be happy solely within themselves? In reality, those who have a constant need to be surrounded by others in order to be joyful are the ones with the problem, though society would have us believe otherwise.

If you can’t enjoy being alone, then you can’t enjoy life in its fullest.

3. You’ll Be Better Off When The Going Gets Tough

It’s a known fact of life that if you’re trying to be successful, you won’t be surrounded by people you like all the time. In honesty, there will be people you hate. There will be people around you who try to bring you down, meaning that you’ll have to spend some time by yourself in order to get away from them. It’s better that you’re comfortable with it when you do.

4. You’ll Be More Confident In Social Situations

It sounds paradoxical doesn’t it? In order to be confident in social situations you need to be comfortable within the opposite of them. But it makes sense. If you lack the confidence to be alone you’ll panic and overcompensate, often coming across as needy — a code-red clinger around people. They’ll just think you’re weird. Only when you become okay with standing by yourself, only when you practice a level of detachment will you genuinely attract others.

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5. You’ll Have Clearness Of Mind

When you drop your attachment to being super-social like our society expects us to, you’ll stop caring for all the gossip which comes with it. Who is going where with who, or doing what. Who’s seeing who. Who hates who. Keeping tabs on all of these social aspects is energy consuming. When you’re good at being alone these things stop being a major concern.Your thoughts will occupy more important matters and will be put to better use. Leading me to my next point.

6. You’ll Be More Productive

Yes, with clearness of mind comes a rocketing in your productivity. Obvious right. Since you’ve freed up a lot of time and energy by forgetting about all the social dimensions, you’ll be free to spend them on things which will actually, y’know, get you places in life. Starting that business or reading that book, it will all come easier.

7. You’ll Notice Those Who Didn’t Appreciate You Much

After a period of time of becoming comfortable with being alone, others will wonder why you’re not so needy and attached to them as you once were. “OMG why aren’t they texting me!” or “Ugh he’s probably with someone else”, and you’ll be dropped quicker than a hot potato. These people are exactly the type who aren’t comfortable with being alone. They need social interaction to feel value in themselves, a toxic mindset.

Those who genuinely appreciate you will be thankful any time they get to spend with you, and they’ll be happy with your new-found confidence and productivity. The others will slowly fade away.

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8. You’ll Attract Similar People

This goes back to point 6. The combination of your confident aura and newly free social space will mean that you’ll begin to attract others who can handle not seeing you for prolonged periods of time. People who have other important stuff to do in their alone time and who aren’t concerned with gossip and the drama that comes with it. That is to say, people who enjoy being alone.

You’re the average of your peer group, if it’s filled with people doing important things and going important places, you too will do the same.

9. You Won’t Be As Disappointed When Others Let You Down

We’ve all been there, you’re all excited to meet your friend(s) for that fun night you planned, only for them to bail on you last minute. People who are attached to being around people will readily jump to a better opportunity if it arises, and quickly drop other plans they may have had. You won’t get this when you enjoy being alone because you’ll be around people who appreciate you more.

Even if they do bail you’ll always have your comfortable, productive self to fall back on to.

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10. You’ll Appreciate Others More

When you spend less time around people, gather your thoughts and get important stuff done, you realise the value of having people with integrity, self-confidence and low social attachment around you. When you eventually do get to spend time with others, you’ll appreciate it all the more, and ultimately have a better time with them.

Sometimes you have to take a couple of steps back to appreciate the bigger picture.

11. You’ll Become More Adventurous

When you’re comfortable with yourself and no longer require the acceptance of others in order to be happy, various social norms and expectations fly out the window. Pressures are lifted and you feel free to do whatever it is which makes you happy. Whether it’s trying a new hobby, planning a solo trip or practising meditation.

There’s no one to laugh at you. The social rope binding you will be cut, and you’ll be free to spread your wings and fly, or something.

12. You’ll Become More Reflective

It’s easy to get caught up in the lightening quick pace of the world, and often times we loose track of exactly where we are going in life. When you can enjoy the solitude you experience from being alone, it becomes possible to reflect on recent times. What went well, what could be improved, where you’re going. All things which need time and attention. Spending time alone will give you that.

Featured photo credit: Young guy siting on the roof via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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