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5 Truly Haunted Places Worth Visiting This Halloween

5 Truly Haunted Places Worth Visiting This Halloween

Halloween is just about here! This happens to be my personal favorite holiday of the year. As a kid, it meant being able to run around with my siblings and friends and gather more candy than we could possibly eat. We were able to dress up in silly costumes and actually wear them in public. So much fun!

The true meaning of Halloween was lost to me at the time though. The name Halloween is a derivative from the original western Christian Allhallowtide or Hallowmas season. It consisted of All Saints Eve which is now Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. This started October 31st and would go through November 2nd. The long and short of it is that it was meant to be a time to remember the dead.  It was believed that the veil between the living and the dead was thinned and in order to prevent being recognized by the wandering souls/spirits people would wear masks or costumes. This is eventually how Trick or Treating came to fruition. It can also be tied back to the Celtic Roots of Samhain. In the spirit of both what Halloween is today and All Hallows Eve, I have put together a list of places that are claimed to still be occupied by the dead.

1. The Most Notorious Haunted House in Ohio – Franklin Castle

Officially called the Tiedemann House but called Franklin Castle by locals. In the late 1800’s, the Tiedemann family moved into the large home and were quickly struck by travesty. Hannes Tiedemann’s mother and one of his daughters passed away within a few weeks of one another. Over the following three years, three more of the Tiedemann’s children passed away, which is when the renovations began. The story goes that Hannes started the renovations to keep his wife’s mind off of the deaths of her children.

By 1895, Hannes wife passed away from liver failure. He remarried shortly after which started the whispers questioning the truth of how she may have died. Which also begs the question about the validity of the children’s deaths as well. Whether there was foul play or not, there are some very unsettled spirits in this beautiful home. In 1968, James Romano and his family moved in and immediately experienced strange things in their new home. James contacted the Northeast Ohio Psychical Research Society, a local team of ghost hunters, to investigate the Castle and the story is that one of the researchers ran screaming from the home. The Romanos then turned to a Catholic priest for help who refused to bless the house because of what he felt when he stepped onto the property.

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Several people have attempted to take on the Franklin Castle and failed. Today it sits in disarray with boards covering the windows hiding the eerie presence within.

2. Belleview Biltmore Hotel Haunting

In 1897, a railroad tycoon Henry Plant built a grand hotel. The history is a little convoluted but there is no denying that this gorgeous hotel has several spirits that roam the halls and rooms. There are too many personal accounts of actual sightings and strange happenings to be denied. One man claims to have heard someone tell him to go f-himself and another invisible presence identified himself as “Walter.” Later he claims to have seen a woman dressed in traditional 30’s attire in a hallway and when he walked to her she vanished. As he went to walk upstairs he heard a woman’s voice say, “Don’t go up there. They are mad at me.”

The electrician for Bellevue Biltmore claimed his tools kept going missing and kept encountering freezing spots, in spring. While working on the Starlight Room he was shoved and told to “get out” by someone who was visibly not there. One man claims that a small boy ran into his room followed by his laughing toddler son and the first boy disappeared right in front of him. Accounts of people being pushed when no one was there, doors closing on their own and countless others are rampant at Henry Plant’s old Hotel.

Unfortunately, the 118-year-old hotel coined “The White Queen of the gulf” has now been demolished to build 28 town homes and 104 condominiums. Preservationists tried for years to save the historical hotel but eventually it was cleared for demolition. The question now is will these new homes be plagued by the spiritual history of the White Queen or will they have moved on?

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3. Clay Haus Hauntings

The Clay Haus is now owned by Betty Snider who has renovated the old home and turned it into a family restaurant. Complete with German and American food, homemade desserts and a side of ghosts? Betty, her family and guests have all claimed to have had strange experiences there. Knocks that come from the other side of the fire escape, and people walking down the stairs that disappeared. The Snider family seems to cohabitate well with the other residents. They even claim that they think the spirits are happy that they cleaned the place up. Stop in for some home cooking and see for yourself.

4. The Winchester Mystery House

Born in 1840, Sarah Lockwood Pardee was from a well off family, went to the best school, spoke four languages and played the piano. In 1862, she married the son of the governor of Connecticut and the manufacturer of the famous Winchester repeating rifle, William Wirt Winchester. They had a happy life together and then that ended. In 1866, their infant daughter died of marasmus. Sarah went into a deep depression. Fifteen years later her husband followed her daughter in death. The story is that Mrs. Winchester sought help from a spiritualist who told her that her family and her fortune were being haunted by the spirits of those killed by the Winchester rifle. She was told that these spirits caused the deaths of her family and that she was next.

She was then told the only way to end this cycle of death was to move and build a house for the spirits. As long as she never stopped building, her life would not be in danger, in fact, building this house to appease these spirits would even bring her eternal life. So she did just that. Mrs. Winchester moved away and promptly began building a beautiful home with people working around the clock to appease the spirits and save her life.

With virtually unlimited resources due to the inheritance she had accrued after the death of her husband, the mansion grew and grew in size and beauty. Upon her death, the mansion was over six acres, contained 160 rooms, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 stairways, 47 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms, and 6 kitchens.

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The house is now open to the public which has allowed for some very strange accounts of supernatural activity. All of the caretakers claim to hear footsteps and breathing in what are visibly empty rooms. Things like doors being locked and unlocked and lights being turned back on as they are closing up the house for the night.

Complete with a ghostly man still working and walking around with his wheelbarrow in the basement, this old mansion surely has one of the most interesting histories and some of the most intriguing lingering spirits.

5. The Haunted History of The Lalaurie House

Located in the French Quarter of New Orleans, the Lalaurie House is known as one of the most frightening locations. In 1832, Dr. Louis Lalaurie and his wife, Delphine, moved into their Creole mansion in the French Quarter. The family was both respected and admired for the lavish social functions they conducted and their extreme wealth. What was kept from the outside world was the extreme cruelty and mistreatment of the slaves by Madame Lalaurie.

She kept her cook chained to the fireplace. A neighbor noticed the frequency of slaves that came and went from the Lalaurie home without explanation, and she also saw Madame Lalaurie chase a young slave up her stairs with a whip. The little girl climbed to the roof and jump off, to her death. Madame Lalaurie had the child buried in her yard. As more and more stories of things like this circled the Creole society, the Lalaurie family’s invitations were declined and the family was avoided.

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Later, a fire broke out at the Lalaurie home and it is suspected that the cook started it. After putting the fire out, the firefighters found a secret barred door in the attic that held behind it the most repulsive deranged acts you could imagine. The New Orleans Bee reported that there were over a dozen slaves chained to the wall, strapped to makeshift operating tables or in cages meant for dogs. Human body parts were scattered around, even human heads in buckets, lips sewn shut and stomachs cut open. The list of extreme psychotic brutality goes on.

Once word got out, a mob formed around the Lalaurie house but the owners were never seen again. The house remained vacant for years. From 1837 through the 2000’s the home has gone through several different owners who have tried to make something of the once beautiful home but were plagued by screams of agony at night and apparitions of slaves that still lived in the home.

In the late 90’s, in the midst of yet another remodeling skeletal remains were found beneath the wooden floor of the house. Who knows how many more small graves are scattered among the home still undiscovered.

With the history of any home built in the 1800’s I would be sure the take measures to make sure it there were no skeletons in my closet, very literally, before buying it. If buying homes with history and some permanent residence is your thing, or you simply want to experience supernatural activity first hand GPR radar and an EMF reader will be your best friends.

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After hearing about the gruesome deaths of past residents and chilling accounts of people’s experiences since, you can be the judge. A night in one of these buildings just may make a believer out of you. If not, it is one way to remember the dead and experience something unique this All Hallows Eve.

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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