“Nature has given to men one tongue, but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.” Epictetus, Greek Philosopher
How well we listen determines the quality of our connections with others whether at home or work. Yet, most of us did not master excellent communication skills in our family of origin. In fact, most of us haven’t taken any formal training in the art of communication. And, as far as communication goes, listening is definitely the key. Luckily, anyone can learn these skills. Excellence is developed with practice. The following steps will help you sharpen your listening skills.
1)Maintain good eye contact with the person you are talking to. Eye contact is imperative in conversation, and makes it possible for you to sense the underlying emotions as well as to assess facial expression and body language. Good eye contact says you are listening and are interested in the person and the conversation.
2)Empty your head of your own agenda, and listen to what the speaker is saying. This is especially difficult if you disagree with what the speaker is saying or have another opinion. Remember, you will have your turn to speak. Overcome the temptation to jump in with your own opinion until you have truly explored what the other person has to say. (This is particularly hard if you happen to be talking with your teenager!)
3)Check out what you have heard by stating what you thought you heard back to the person you are speaking to. Say something like, “What I hear you saying is…” “Is that right?”
If the person you are talking to agrees that you heard accurately, great! If they say, “No, what I said was…” – believe them. Don’t argue or come back with, “That is too what you said.” It is amazing how many times individuals I am working with in communication skills will argue with their partner about what the partner said or meant! We all have a tendency to distort somewhat based on our own experiences. That is why reflecting back what we thought we heard is important.
4)Ask open-ended questions about the content or information being shared. Open-ended questions cannot be answered with “yes” or “no”. They invite the speaker to give you more information and to expand on what they are saying. Open-ended questions often start with “how” or “what”, or “tell me more…”
5)Try to imagine how the person you are talking to feels about what they are talking about. This is a skill called “empathy” and is essential for close, meaningful conversation. Share back your sense of how the information is impacting them, such as, “That must make you happy.” Or, “It must be hard for you when that happens.” Connecting on an emotional level shows you are listening and truly understand them.
If you practice these five steps faithfullyFeature Articles, you will be amazed at how much better your relationships will become both at home and at work
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When I was much younger, I belonged to a fraternal organization much like the Boy Scouts, which taught wilderness survival skills. One of the basic skills they taught was how to build a fire. Fires are very useful not only for cooking and warmth, but also for psychological comfort – especially when you’re out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nothing but darkness.
There are three essential elements needed in order to create fire from a bunch of sticks: Heat – either from friction, a spark or a smaller flame, like a match. Fuel – the wood or other combustible material. Air – supplied by blowing or fanning to make the heat hotter and help spread the fire.
All three elements are essential. Take away just one and you have no fire.
Accomplishing a goal or realizing a dream is much like building a fire. There are three essential elements needed in order to create reality from a bunch of dreams or goals. All three are essential. Take away even one, and you have no true realization or accomplishment. They are:
Passion, a plan and pursuit.
Passion is the “heat”. It’s that spark or small flame that gets things started. Passion is also what sustains you when things get tough. It’s the love of what you’re doing or working towards. It’s the vision and motivation that continually draws you forward. Take away passion and there’s no spark to get things off the ground or you quickly lose the fervor to sustain you on the uphill climbs.
The plan is the fuel for your goals or dreams. Even if you have lots of sticks for your fire, they have to be assembled in such a way that allows the spark to “catch” and begin the process of combustion. You simply can’t stick a match under a log and expect it to begin to burn – the log is too big. You have to start with much smaller pieces of wood or straw called tinder. Once that begins to burn, you can begin to add increasingly larger pieces slowly until you have a nice warm fire.
Much in the same way, your plan has to include smaller steps or short-term goals which, when accomplished, allow the spark of your passion to catch and begin the process of realization of dreams and goals. Trying to take too large a step initially is like holding a match under a log – it’s not going catch before the match goes out.
The pursuit is the air that helps the flame of your passion burn hotter allowing you to add increasingly larger pieces of fuel (larger dreams or goals) to your “fire”. Just as you must fan the flames of your small fire to make it grow, so also you must take the necessary steps consistently and purposefully in order to achieve your dream or goal. You’ve got to “work” your plan.
Take away air and your fire quickly “smothers” leaving you with just a pile of sticks. Take away the pursuit, and all you’re left with is a pile of unfulfilled dreams.
That’s basic fire building. One more advanced step in the process is using a catalyst to help the fire catch and spread more quickly. Compounds like gasoline, pure oxygen or phosphorus are such catalysts. Can you have a fire without using them? Sure, but it’s sure lots easier to start one with them.
A personal or business coach can be the catalyst that allows you to achieve your goals and dreams much more quickly and easily than you could without them. A coach takes the spark of your passion and through powerful questions and requests, accountability systems and ongoing support helps your dreams “catch” more easily, and “burn” more fervently.
So what’s your “burning desire”? Do you have the passion? Have you made a plan? Are you pursuing your goal or dream purposefully? You must have all three in order to see your dream or goal “catch” and be able bask in the warmth of your accomplishment.
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Our doubt concerning our self-worth is the main obstacle to our emotional and inter-relational harmony. This doubt is the cause of our greatest fears such as being rejected, laughed at, ignored, unloved, and most of all, of being alone.
Loneliness and Doubt
Loneliness is the disease of our age, and its cause is self-doubt. Fear of being alone is perhaps our most ancient one. It comes from the fact that in the past, he who was not accepted was ostracized from the group. In those days, that did not mean simply feeling lonely, but also being unable to survive.
Another factor that makes us fear rejection or not being accepted by others is the fear of being punished by them or by God. We have been brought up to believe in a God, whose love is conditional, depending upon whether we are perfect in His/Her/Its eyes or not.
We receive messages from our parents and other important persons throughout our childhood years concerning whether and under what conditions we are good or worthy.
As children, we learn from adults that we must measure our self-worth by:
What others think of us.
The results of our efforts in school, our profession and life.
How we compare to others.
How much we know.
How much money we have.
And various other conditions
Our doubt of our self-worth then becomes our greatest obstacle to inner peace, harmonious communication and loving relationships. These doubts are the foundation of most of our negative emotions and relationship conflicts.
** If we had more self-acceptance, we would have less need to prove ourselves to others. **
Then we would not feel offended so frequently and we could overlook others? negativity and be at peace with them regardless of their behavior.
Let us now look at how we can increase and stabilize our self-acceptance.
The first step is to discover the situations in which we lose our sense of self-worth or self-acceptance.
The reasons we most often loose our feelings of self-worth are examined in the following questionnaire.
OBSTACLES TO LOVING OURSELVES
In which situations do you lose your sense of self-love, self-worth, self- esteem or self-acceptance?
When others ask for your help and you * do not say “yes” *, or do not respond.
When you have * made a mistake * or have * failed * at some effort.
When * others are more capable * than you are at certain tasks or concerning certain qualities (i.e. intelligence, artistic ability, speech, sports, cooking, professional success, their children?s success, economically, making friends, employing disciplines).
When * others attract more attention, * esteem and respect in a group situation.
When others * have offered more to you * than you have offered them.
When you are * not perfect *.
When * others criticize, are angry at or reject you *.
When * others do not agree with you or believe that you are wrong *.
When others * are able to manipulate you *.
When * you have “created” pain * for others.
When you are * not in harmony with your conscience *.
The accompanying more detailed questionnaire will help us determine more clearly when we lose our feelings of self-worth. We suggest that as you read through it, you mark those items that might relate to you.
I Tend to Lose My Feelings of Self-Worth:
(Worth what; love, happiness, health, success, satisfaction?)
When others criticize me, blame me, or do not approve of me.
When others are angry with me.
When my children, spouse or parents are not happy, healthy, successful, or satisfied.
When I do not know as much as others around me.
When I do not have an intimate relationship partner.
When my house is not clean and in order.
When my partner shows interest in others.
If I am not successful professionally.
If I do not have enough money.
If I am not attractive to the opposite sex.
If I do not make an impression on others.
If I do not have many sexual successes.
If others do not respect me.
If my child is ill.
If I do not have what others have.
If I am not perfect.
If I do not achieve many things.
If others are able to cheat or mislead me.
If I do not have ___________
If I do not do____________
Other reasons _________
SOCIAL PROGRAMMING OR CONSCIENCE
Once we have established the particular situations or stimuli that obstruct our feelings of self-worth or self-acceptance, we will need to separate our answers into two groups.
Those which have to do with * social programming * and not with our conscience. In such a case, we need to analyze each reason separately as we attempt to discover and change the beliefs that cause us to lose our self-acceptance in those situations.
When we lose our feelings of self-worth because of social programming we are buying into societies illusions concerning who is worthy and who is not. We are measuring ourselves by superficial standards set by society such as money, appearance profession etc, and not by our conscience, such as honesty, love, sincerity, selflessness etc.
Situations in which we reject ourselves because our * actions are not in alignment with our inner conscience *. We behave toward others, as we would not like them to behave toward us. Our answers to 10 and 11 in the first questionnaire might indicate such situations.
In such cases, we are interested in how we could react differently in those situations so that our behavior is in tune with our conscience.
In these second cases which have to do with conscience, we will most often find that we behave in such ways because we are being controlled by the previous categories if social beliefs.
For example we tell lies (matter of conscience) because we believe that our self-worth depends on what others think about us and thus want to hide the truth from them
The final solution for the matter of self-worth is to realize that all beings deserve love and respect exactly as they are regardless of all their flaws simply because they are unique aspects of divine creation- just as all flowers and all of nature.
In such a case, we must not confuse one?s ability and/or morality with worthiness of love and respect. As aspects of divine creation all deserve love and respect regardless of ability or morality.
The difference is that those who have ability deserve positions of greater responsibility that those without. While those without morality do deserve our love and respect they may not deserve trust or freedom to move about in societyFind Article, until they are healed of their problem.
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It has been observed that health is the result of what one assimilates, not what one necessarily eats. We accept lots of food into our bodies, but only that which has been properly assimilated can be utilized for rebuilding and repairing cells and malfunction areas. Proper assimilation is acquired by “drinking the solid foods and chewing the liquid food.”
This is an old and true axiom. We should thoroughly chew the solid foods, mixing saliva with them until the food becomes a liquid; then we drink it. The liquid foods must be swished (or chewed) in the mouth, then swallowed. The saliva thoroughly mixed with the foods is the key that opens up the doors of digestion. Without mixing saliva with the food, the balance of the digestive juices are not activated for good assimilation. By gulping, “inhaling” or bolting the food down without properly mixing
saliva with it, we only get eight to ten percent of its value. By properly chewing we can raise this to forty or forty-five percent. The balance is generally cellulose or indigestible fiber.
We not only receive far better health, but also save money. Food is one of our largest expenditures, and if we can get four to six times better assimilation, this promises superior health and a happier life. With one fourth or one third of the food we have been used to eating, we can receive much more power and energy.
Another must for good health is to slow down the eating procedure, relax and be happy. Discuss pleasant things during mealtime, even laugh a little.
Such foods as soups, gruels, porridges, and purees contain so little solid matter that the bulk, considerable though it may be when the food is eaten, is soon reduced to a very small volume. On this account liquid foods are almost always constipating. The only exceptions are those liquid foods which contain much sugar, acids, or fats.
Pasty cereals such as oatmeal mush, are decidedly constipating in their influence, because of their pasty consistency and the little mastication which they receive. New bread, hot biscuits, “noodles,” and doughy foods of all sorts are likewise objectionable.
If the above principles are not applied, constipation and/or indigestion can result. Premature old age and death, misery and even crime originate from constipation more than from any other bodily disorder. Constipation is not in itself a disease, but is a symptom, the cause of which may be disease or simply neglect.
Indigestion is basically poor assimilation or difficulty in processing food in order to get the proper value from it. The use of aluminum-based digestive tablets sold on the market give only temporary relief and aluminum poisoning is a side-effect or after-effect. However, by eating nutritiously and supplementing our diets with a good quality herbal colon formula (not to mention stabilized probiotics), we can set ourselves on a much better path.
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