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Showing posts with label arrogance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label arrogance. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Listening: How not to shoot first and apologize later

The events in the world recently and from what I've seen in interactions in my own life and the lives of those around me over time have served to remind that it is not only things like cooking that are a lost art society, but LISTENING is also a lost art.  Listening doesn't always mean listening to spoken words, but also to cues as well, but I digress.  I know I have been guilty of one or more of these at times, so I am not speaking from a position of holier than thou, but passing off what I've felt, seen and learned or come to understand. They sometimes refer to this desire as ESH or "Experience, Strength & Hope" in step programs.  Anyway, I came up with the title of this blog based off words from "Everything Falls Apart" by Dog's Eye View.  It occurred to me that often times listening effectively can prevent immediate misunderstandings and confrontations which later require apologizing for flying off the handle.

But back to listening.  We can recite most of the words that another says, but does that mean we are actually listening to them?  Listening means more than just hearing, it means taking an effort to consider what the other party is saying.  Anyone can repeat by rote, but not everyone takes time to consider the words/intent of the speaker.  From my perspective there are a number of things that get in the way of effective listening, not necessarily in any order:
  • Being too focused on other things while 'listening'
    • Being focused on something outside of the speaker.
      • Your bad day at the work.
      • Your bad interaction with a family, friend, police, etc.
      • A future event/situation/consideration. 
      • Things that grab your attention: TV, music.
    • Trying to come up with a response while the speaker is still talking.
      • Eagerly finishing their thought, rather than allowing them to express it.
        • Is a way of telling them the speaker that you are finished listening.
        • Can be a way stealing their thunder aka stealing the floor from them.
        • Results in the wrongly predicting what the speaker will say.
        • Can be a way of defending yourself or your position before the speaker has given you a reason too.  (Defensive listening)
      • Letting them 'finish' but then immediately go into response mode.
        • Is a way of telling them, you are worried more about your response than their words. In other words, wanting to 'sound good.'
        • Can be a way of expressing defensiveness.  Something may have triggered you and instead of asking for clarification or thinking through what they said, you jump into 'defensive response' mode.  (Defensive listening)
        • Can be a way of condescendingly checking off the "I listened" box when you really didn't.

Now from my perspective, you can be a good listener if:

  • Hear out your speaker.  Giving him/her time to make his/her points effectively and consider what they are meaning. 
  • Focus on what they are saying and not just being able to recite their words.
  • Ask for clarification when the opportunity presents itself, but not before the speaker has had a chance to elaborate.
  • Focus on what they are saying, rather than just formulating a response.
  • Ask intelligent and respectful questions and limit asking the speaker to repeat his or herself.
  • Put the ideas of the speaker in motion where it makes sense to.
    • Where it is feasible.  Sometimes the ideas are an ideal or a goal, not something to immediately reach.
    • Benefit one or more parties: preferably the listener, the speaker and the subject(s) of the speaker.
    • Where it can advance the relationship.  Can show the speaker that you really listened and gave consideration of their thoughts and feelings.

This focus on how to listen wouldn't be complete IF we don't take time to actually focus on the speaker as well.  A speaker can be a poor 'listener' as well.  A speaker can be a poor listener if he or she:
  • Doesn't pause to let his or her audience take a moment to digest what they've heard.
    • Avoiding proper pauses can cause the audience to get overwhelmed.
    • Assumes that the audience can follow his/her line of thought at the same speed the speaker does.
  • Doesn't effectively read the cues of his audience.
    • Shows the speaker is more interested in his/her words then reaching the audience.
    • Shows inflexibility on the part of the speaker.  Cannot adjust to audience needs, potentially missing a great opportunity to reach them.
    • Can result in the speaker talking down to, talking past or talking over the head of the audience.
    • Can lose his/her audience to tears if he or she is ignoring what the audience is 'saying'.
  • Makes the discussion/speech all about him/her. 
    • Shows the audience that they are just a backdrop vs. being a integral part of the discussion or speech.
    • Is contrary to relating to the audience.  In relating:
      • They say their piece, but then step out of the way of the point being made, rather than to continue to point out their role.
      • They focus on the takeaway and what they've learned, rather than their own personal importance in the matter.
Whether it's an informal conversation, a group or panel discussion, a give and take session, an interview or speech to a audience, knowing how to listen is crucial in advancing the conversation, the idea and/or the relationship.  Focusing on being a good listener can help to avoid misunderstandings and confrontations and can promote better relationship, personal or otherwise. It can also prevent a person from sounding foolish in response (as if you respond to what you heard rather than what was said, you can sound like a fool).  Showing disregard as a listener can lead to misunderstandings--shoot first, apologize later, confrontations and lead to either a halting of progress if not destruction of a relationship--personal or otherwise.

As a final aside, just like most things in life their are exceptions in more understanding of 'listening'.  

  • When you interview for a job, position or role, you have to make yourself the subject of your words, ideas, relating.  You are not only advancing your ideas, but also yourself as the messenger or implementer of the ideas.
  • When the other party or parties steal the oxygen and don't give you space to absorb what they are saying or to respond, you have to assertively (and unfortunately perhaps 'rudely') grab control of the floor.
  • When time is critical (as in an emergency) and you need to act fast, sometimes you have to take what the speaker said and run with it, even if they aren't quite finished.  
  • Sometimes when the speaker is totally out of focus and there is an opportunity, it can be useful to 'interrupt' them to get them on point.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Living life on E

How many times do we drive oblivious to how full (or empty) our gas tank is only to be abruptly made aware by a quick glance or ding of a low fuel light that we will soon have to refuel.   We have two choices at this point: we can drive on E and hope we can make it to our destination or we can stop and refuel.  Unless we our near our destination, it is generally wisest to stop and refuel.  Presuming we decide to stop and refuel, we have a second decision to make.  Do we put in a partial tank to save money and/or time refueling or do we bite the bullet and top it off?  Unless we are totally strapped for money, in a situation in which literally a minute or two will make a difference, or sure that gas prices will spike, it is best just tank it off at that point.  (As if we continually drive on or near E, we risk eventually getting stranded after running out of gas or causing damage to the engine such as dirt getting into the fuel line or engine. 

Okay, so then why in life when our 'low fuel light' comes on, do we ignore and hope 'we make it' or do we barely 'refuel' . LaMorris Crawford, the chaplain for the Cincinnati Bengals and head of LaMorris Crawford Ministries, spoke this past weekend at the Missouri District Church of the Nazarene 2016 Men's Retreat this past weekend. (April 22-23)  In his Friday night sermon, his larger point was notoriety and what as Christians that we'd be remembered for.  In the process of making that point he observed that in our faith that we tend to run on empty when we should be spiritually refueling.  A friend of mine recently reminded me to make time and find my own space to recharge my batteries--basically another way of saying refueling.  I don't think he was necessarily limiting it to one aspect of my life, but rather all my life--physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually   Anyway, between those two circumstances it got me to thinking: what is refueling and why don't we properly refuel?

What is refueling?

  • Spending time in prayer, study and/or meditation.  (Spiritually refueling)
  • Getting good sleep.
  • Exercising
  • Eating right
  • Finding me time - being nice to ourselves.

In short, it is taking care of our needs.

I believe many live life on or near 'E' for the following reasons:

  1. PRIDE - We mistakenly estimate that we can do it ourselves and that we don't need a break, pause or a lift.  In a way, it is a need for self-validation.   Spiritually, we want to prove to ourselves that we are well-equipped at all times, so we don't spend the time in prayer and study that we need to.  Emotionally, mentally and physically we want to prove to ourselves how 'tough' we are.  So, we don't stop, pause, rest or step away when we need to 'refuel'.                                                   
  2. ARROGANCE - As I see it, arrogance is trying to prove to others about our good/greatness, our intelligence, our toughness and our independence.  It comes from a place of insecurity in relation to others.  That is we NEED to be dominant or not show weakness to prove our worth.  On the spiritual side, we are telling our Higher Power (God) that we don't need him.  In other words, I've got it under control.  In that and other aspects of our life we don't stop, pause, step away or rest until our we are run down.  To us, to do so would show comparative weakness and we can't risk that.                                                                                                                               
  3. IGNORANCE - Sometimes we simply don't really understand how to take care of ourselves or refuel properly.  We may have never really had a good example set for us.  What instead we may have seen was our parents not effectively taking care of their own needs.  Sometimes, it is as simple as not taking any/enough time to pray, meditate, introspect about our needs.  This can be due to laziness, distractions, stubbornness or some other unknown block.  If we aren't really aware of how to effectively take care of ourselves, it is more likely we will just do the minimum we need to go get by.                                                                                                       
  4.  TIME/SPACE - I've heard the quote: "there isn't enough time to do it right, but there is always enough time to do it over." (Jack Bergman)  I think it is fairly common we don't take effective care of ourselves because we don't take/make enough time for our needs.  Time, as we get older, seems like an ever decreasing asset.  In this light, it is common to feel like we don't have enough time to stop, to rest, to eat healthy, exercise, pray/meditate or any of the other things we should do to refuel in the different aspects of our life.  I believe that often we just push forward believing there is enough in the tank to get us to the next point, day, week, crisis moment, etc., believing we don't have time to refuel.  Of course, like the the earlier quote implied, when we do break down--assuming we aren't completely destroyed--we seem to be able to find the time to recover and refuel.  I believe there is often similar issue with space.  We don't find our own personal space--literal or figurative--and ironically after we break down, we are given plenty of space to recover.                                                                                                                               
  5.  SHAME - Interestingly enough, most of the reasons for not taking proper care of ourselves or refueling, revolve around a miscalculation or misunderstanding of how to do so rather than the basic desire to do.  However, shame is different.  One could argue that when we feel too much guilt or shame, there is a conscience or subconscious sense that we don't deserve to take care of ourselves.  In our spiritual life, there is almost a sense that we don't deserve the grace of God (our higher power), but this is really when we need it the most.  In other aspects of our lives, when we feel too much shame and can be paralyzed into effective inaction--a shame crater.  Alternatively, not feeling we deserve to have our needs met, the actions of a person stuck in shame are often mostly focused on others as instead of taking care of basic needs first.  It can be noble to put other's needs first, but not if we are totally neglecting taking care of ourselves in the process.  
I guess the takeaway from this blog is that we need to become aware of what our basic needs are, of when we are not effectively meeting our own basic needs. This can help us to understand why we aren't.  Otherwise, when we continue to live life on E, it will catch up to us and when it does, it will not be pretty.