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5 Simple Ways To Be A Better Listener

5 Simple Ways To Be A Better Listener


    Are you really listening?

    In my journey toward better communication, here are 5 ways I’ve found to help reduce the distractions we face in communication:

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    1. Clear some space –

    I started “clearing space” by removing everything from my work area that wasn’t related to the conversation at hand. As the notion of space trickled into other parts of my life, I found myself silencing my phone during meals. I started taking notes during presentations instead of Tweeting. And I gave pause after others spoke before replying. I soon discovered that I wasn’t just getting more out of conversations; I was finding more value in time spent alone!

    2. Control your limbs –

    You’ve probably been in conversations with people who talk with their limbs; most use their hands. Listening with limbs is another story. Confession: I am a pen-clicker. You know those annoying people who click their pens without realizing it? I am one. If I click my pen while you’re talking, you’ll probably be distracted. If I rearrange my silverware at dinner while you’re talking, you’ll be distracted. So I got rid of my click-able pens and made a point to avoid behaviors that not only distracted others but also caused them to think I wasn’t listening (in most cases, I probably wasn’t).

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    3. Ask questions –

    I’ve found that the best listeners make a regular practice of asking thoughtful questions. When you reach a pause in conversation, ask a question that clarifies a previous point or helps to dig deeper into the topic of conversation. The person or group you’re talking to will gain value from your question and you’ll find it easier to resist distractions because your mind is fully engaged.

    4. Make a move –

    When you know you’ll be sitting for an extended period of time (shareholder meeting at work, looking through a 450-page photo album with Auntie Dorothy, etc), put in a few minutes of exercise ahead of time. There’s no need to break a sweat, just put in enough effort so your breathing deepens. When you go to sit, you’ll have more blood running to your brain for thinking and the chair might actually feel comfortable following your effort. I’m afraid no amount of exercise will make folding metal chairs comfortable. I’m sorry.

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    5. Enforce a “no-fly zone”

    This is a block of time you set aside each day that is completely free from the buzzing flotsam of media and work inputs. Silence your phone, close the laptop, put away the papers, and try your hardest not to even think about the big distractions that follow you around. Do some crunches. Lie on the floor and watch the ceiling fan spin. Hang out with your kids if you’ve got them. If you don’t have kids, hang out with some kids who need your positive influence. Knock something off your “honey-do” list and chat with your partner. Enforce your “no-fly zone” religiously and you’ll soon find a sense of clarity creeping into other aspects of your life.

    Becoming a better listener takes effort and, most importantly, patience. Be warned, however, for once you start truly listening you may find the process habit-forming. When people know they are being heard they tend to share amazing things we certainly would have missed otherwise.

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    Looking back, has there been a moment when everything would have been different had you been a better listener? Join us on Facebook and tell us about it!

    Image: PracticalOwl

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    Last Updated on June 19, 2019

    6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances

    6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances

    I’ve stood on the edge of my own personal cliffs many times. Each time I jumped, something different happened. There were risks that started off great, but eventually faded. There were risks that left me falling until I hit the ground. There were risks that started slow, but built into massive successes.

    Every risk is different, but every risk is the same. You need to have some fundamentals ready before you jump, but not too many.

    It wouldn’t be a risk if you knew everything that was about to happen, would it? Here’re 6 ways to be a successful risk taker.

    1. Understand That Failure Is Going to Happen a Lot

    It’s part of life. Everything we do has failure attached to it. All successful people have stories of massive failure attached to them. Thinking that your risk is going to be pain free and run as smooth as silk is insane.

    Expect some pain and failure. Actually, expect a lot of it. Expect the sleepless nights with crazy thoughts of insecurity that leave you trembling under the covers. It’s going to happen, no matter how positive you are about the risk you are about to take.

    When failure hits, the only options are to keep going or quit. If you expect falling into a meadow of flowers and frolicking unicorns, then you’re going to immediately quit once you realize that getting to that meadow requires you to go through a rock filled cave filled with hungry bats.

    2. Trust the Muse

    Writing a story isn’t a big risk. It’s really just a risk on my time. So when I start writing a story, I’m scared it will be time wasted. Of course, it never really is. Even if the story doesn’t turn out fabulous, I still practiced.

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    When I’ve taken risks in my life, the successful ones always seemed to happen when I followed the muse. Steven Pressfield describes the muse,

    “The Muse demands depth. Shallow does not work for her. If we’re seeking her help, we can’t stay in the kiddie end. When we work, we have to go hard and go deep.”

    The muse is a goddess who wants our attention and wants us to work on our passion.

    If you’re taking a risk in anything, it’s assumed that there is some passion built up behind that risk. That passion, deep inside you, is the muse. Trust it, focus on it, listen to it.

    The most successful articles and stories I write are the ones I’ve focused all my attention on. There were no interruptions during their creative development. I didn’t check my phone or go watch my Twitter feed. I was fully engaged in my work.

    Trust the muse, focus your attention on your risk, let the ideas and path develop themselves, and leave the distractions at the side of the road.

    3. Remember to Be Authentic

    Taking a risk and then turning into something you’re not, is only going to lead to disaster. Whether you are risking a new relationship or new opportunity, you must be yourself throughout the entire process.

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    How many times have you acted like you loved something just because the men or woman you just started going out with loved it?

    For example, I’m not an office worker. I have an incredibly hard time working in a confined timeline (ie. 9-5). That’s why I write. I can do it whenever the mood strikes, I don’t have somebody breathing down my neck, telling me that I’m five minutes late, or missed a comma somewhere. I don’t have to walk on eggshells wondering if what I’m writing will get me fired or make me lose a promotion. I can just be myself, period.

    One girlfriend didn’t understand that. She believed solely in the 9-5 motto, specifically something in human resources because that was a very stable job. I was scared for my future, but I stuck with the relationship because of my own insecurities and acted like I would do it to make her happy.

    Here’s a tip: NEVER take away from your happiness to make somebody else satisfied (note I didn’t say happy).

    Making somebody else happy will make you happy. Doing something to satisfy somebody is murder on your soul.

    4. Don’t Take Any Risks While You’re Not Clearheaded

    I’d been considering the risk for a couple weeks. It all sounded good. I was 22 and I could be rich in a couple of years. That’s what they were selling me, anyways.

    One night, while at a house party with some friends, I found myself at a computer. A couple of my friends were standing nearby and asked me what I was doing. I told them I was considering starting my own business and it was only going to cost me $1,500.

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    Of course, when a bunch of drunk people are surrounded by more drunk people, things get enthusiastic. It sounded like the best business venture in the world to everybody, including me. So I signed up and gave them my credit card number.

    A few painful months and close to $4,000 dollars lost later, I quit the business. I was young and fell into the pyramid scheme trap. It was an expensive drunk decision.

    Drinking heavily and making decisions has a proven track record of failure. So when you have something important to decide, don’t let your emotions take over your brain.

    5. Fully Understand What You’re Risking

    It was the start of my baseball comeback. I got a tryout with a professional scout and killed it. After the tryout, he talked to my girlfriend and myself, making sure we understood I would be gone for up to 6 months at a time. That strain on the relationship could be tough.

    We understood. I left to play ball, chose to stay in the city I played in, and a year later we broke up. Not because of baseball, see point 3 above. Taking big risks can have massive impacts on everything in your life from relationships to money. Know what you’re risking before you take the risk.

    If you believe the risk will be worth it or you have the support you need from your family, then go ahead and make the leap.

    You can get more guidance on how to take calculated risks from this article: How to Take Calculated Risk to Achieve More and Become Successful

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    6. Remember This Is Your One Shot Only

    As far as we know officially, this is our one shot at life, so why not take some risks?

    The top thing people are saddened by on their deathbeds are these regrets. They wish they did more, asked that girl in the coffee shop out, spoke out when they should have, or did what they were passionate about.

    Don’t regret. Learn and experience. Live. Take the risks you believe in. Be yourself and make the world a better place.

    Now go ahead, take that risk and be successful at it!

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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