Monthly Archives: March 2013

Pleasures Of Giving

“Ecstasy To A Giver Is Finding Someone To Qualified To Receive.”
Dr. Mike Murdock

Nothing pleasures God more than giving us gifts. Being made in God’s image nothing pleasures me more. The tough part is finding someone to give a gift to. Giving a gift to someone who treats it like they were entitled to the gift is painful. Treating a gift like it is nothing will ensure you only receive one gift from me. I do not return to a dry well.

I do not give gifts to people who do not know how to receive a gift. There are people who I give things to and you would think I gave they a thousand dollars by their reactions. You can tell their reaction is genuine. Do you think I go out of my way to give them another one? You bet!

When you give to the poor, because they are on hard times is different. There I do not expect a response. They are usually so immersed in their pain they just take the gift. I have empathy for them. When you find a qualified receiver among the poor, that is double dose of ecstasy.

Four Rules For Active Listening

I found this article on listening on the U.S. State Department’s website. There are some good points that make it worth the read.

The most common problem in communication is not listening! A Chinese symbol for “To Listen” is shown below.  It is wise beyond the art. The left side of the symbol represents an ear. The right side represents the individual- you. The eyes and undivided attention are next and finally there is the heart.

 

chinese letter

This symbol tells us that to listen we must use both ears, watch and maintain eye contact, give undivided attention, and finally be empathetic.  In other words we must engage in active listening! Active listening is a skill taught to teachers and police officers, counselors, ministers, and priests. It is a skill we would all do better having learned, practiced. To begin being and active listener we must first understand the four rules of active listening.
The Four Rules of Active Listening 1. Seek to understand before you seek to be understood.

2. Be non judgmental

3. Give your undivided attention to the speaker

4. Use silence effectively

Let’s explore the rules of active listening.
1. Seek to understand before seeking to be understood. When we seek to understand rather than be understood, our modus operandi will be to listen. Often, when we enter into conversation, our goal is to be better understood. We can be better understood, if first we better understand. With age, maturity, and experience comes silence. It is most often a wise person who says little or nothing at the beginning of a conversation or listening experience. We need to remember to collect information before we disseminate it. We need to know it before we say it.
2. Be non judgmental. Empathetic listening demonstrates a high degree of emotional intelligence. There is a reason kids do not usually speak with adults about drugs, sex, and rock and roll. The kids already know what the adults have to say. Once a child knows your judgment, there is little reason to ask the question unless the intention is to argue. If we would speak to anyone about issues important to them, we need to avoid sharing our judgment until we have learned their judgment. This empathetic behavior is an indicator of emotional intelligence.

 3. Give your undivided attention to the speaker. The Chinese symbol that we used to describe listening used the eyes and undivided attention. Absolutely important is dedicating your undivided attention to the speaker if you are to succeed as an active listener. Eye contact is less important. In most listening situations people use eye contact to affirm listening. The speaker maintains eye contact to be sure the listener or listeners are paying attention. From their body language the speaker can tell if he is speaking too softly or loudly, too quickly or slowly, or if the vocabulary or the language is inappropriate. Listeners can also send messages to speakers using body language. Applause is the reason many performers perform. Positive feedback is an endorphin releaser for the giver and the sender. Eye contact can be a form of positive feedback. BUT, eye contact can also be a form of aggression, of trying to show dominance, of forcing submissive behavior. All primates use eye contact to varying degrees. We should be careful how we use it when listening. If we want to provide undivided attention to a child, a better way to show your attention is to do a “walk and talk”. Walk and talk is such a successful strategy that works well for active listening!

4. Use silence effectively. The final rule for active or empathic listening is to effectively use silence. To often a truly revealing moment is never brought to fruition because of an untimely interruption. Some of the finest police interrogators, counselors, teachers and parents learn more by maintaining silence than by asking questions. As an active or empathic listener, silence is a very valuable tool. DO NOT interrupt unless absolutely necessary. Silence can be painful. It is more painful for a speaker than for a listener. If someone is speaking, and we want them to continue talking, we do not interrupt. Rather, we do provide positive feedback using body language, eye contact, and non word sounds like “umh, huh”. Silence is indeed golden especially when used to gather information as a listener.

Improving Your Active Listening Skills – Part 4

This is part 4 of Improving Active Listening Skills. Remember to practice these skills to improve them.
Don’t be scared of silence – Active listening requires that you take time to absorb what you have heard, analyze it, and then respond. Commenting instantly may give the impression that you have been formulating your response when you should have been listening. You may also be coming in too early. The speaker may only have paused to clarify their thoughts before speaking again, and may need that silence to think. Be assured that if they do want you to speak, they will let you know. They may ask: “What do you think?” or “What would you do?”

Practice emotional intelligence – This is all about being aware of your emotions and opinions. As much as your emotions can aid active listening by creating empathy, they can also hamper communication if they cause you to disagree with the speaker. This can clearly produce negative results if you start an argument, but it can also be detrimental even if you keep your counsel and say nothing. Having negative thoughts about what you are being told will work against your ability to actively listen, and you will almost certainly transmit this to the speaker in your body language. You can combat this problem by being more emotionally intelligent. This means accepting that the feelings you have could, if you let them, affect your listening abilities, and then deciding to keep them under wraps, at least until the speaker has said all they want to say.

Take notes – Although this may make you appear like a psychiatrist, jotting down a few key words can really help. This counters the need to interrupt for fear of forgetting, and provides a reference for once the speaker has finished so that you know you will be able to address the pertinent issues. Some people may want to speak at length without interruptions, and even the most attentive and active listener will then struggle to recall all the details they wanted to comment on. This tactic obviously has more relevance in formal and business situations. It might be policy to ask whether the speaker minds you scribbling a little as they speak, and to explain the purpose of doing so.

Check your understanding – This is a good way to focus your thoughts on listening, to demonstrate to the speaker that you really are listening, to help clarify the listener’s thoughts, and to make sure that you genuinely do understand. This is a matter of asking clarification questions when appropriate, and may involve restating part of what you have heard. You may start off with: “So I am right in thinking …” or “Let me just clarify …” or “So are you saying …”

If you want to purchase the e-book for $3.50 Click Here

Improving Your Active Listening Skills – Part 3

This is part 3: Here are the next four traits to develop in your listening skills:

Minimize internal distractions – If you are finding that your own brain is chattering away when you are supposed to be listening, try to refocus your thoughts on the speaker, and keep doing this as often as required. Your ability to do this will improve with practice. It may help to behave as though your life depends on what they have to say, or you could try repeating their words mentally as they say them.

Be sincerely interested – The above two skills will be easier to master if you are genuinely interested in what the speaker has to say. As mentioned already, disinterest is a huge barrier to active listening, and conjuring interest may not be easy.

Have sympathy, feel empathy – These will allow you to take more of an interest. You can empathize by remembering a time when your emotions were on a par with the speaker’s. If you cannot recall such an occasion, you can sympathize through acceptance – accepting that they are a human being who requires understanding.

Be open-minded – Don’t prejudge the speaker. Even when they begin with a comment that rankles with you, wait until they have finished before making any decisions. Some people do not express themselves too well and may not mean exactly what they say. Comments they make subsequently make place a different perspective on their initial comments. The key is to be patient and wait. Do not assume, or allow preconceptions to wreck communications. The moment people start to disagree, the harder it becomes for both parties to actively listen.

Avoid “me” stories – These happen when a speaker says something that triggers a memory of something similar in your own experience. Then you are just waiting for them to shut up so you can share. This can be disastrous for communication because as soon as the speaker ends their sentence, you jump in and take over. “Me” stories normally begin with “Yeah, that’s just like me …” Phrased in such a way, the listener has justified their interjection by linking their circumstances with the speaker’s. However, such stories are little more than an opportunity to talk about your favorite subject: yourself. They may also end up taking the conversation so far off-topic that the original intent is lost. Keep your stories to yourself, unless the speaker specifically asks if you have experienced a similar situation because they genuinely want to know how you handled it.

If you want to purchase the e-book for $3.50 Click Here

Improving Your Active Listening Skills – Part 2

Remember the first step is to accept that improvement is possible and necessary. Once this has been done, there are specific skills that can be learned so that you can almost instantly become an active listener and more effective communicator. Practice, however, is the key to your success. Only through the repeated application of these skills will they become second nature to you.

Bear in mind that body language is a large part of active listening. You may be perfectly able to actively listen lying on your back on a bed with your eyes shut, but that will not convince the speaker that you are paying full attention, and may cause them to be reticent with their information, or not to bother at all.

Here are the next four traits to develope in your listening skills:

Assess the emotion, not just the words – Active listening also involves actively analyzing the speaker’s body language, tone of voice and facial expressions. Very often, words on their own are a poor guide as to how a person is feeling. Sometimes they are in direct contradiction. If communication is to be effective, it must be honest, so the goal of active listening is to decipher the truth of a situation, Even if the speaker comes to you, don’t assume that they will be straight-talking. They may want you to look behind the words at their body language, because they may need the truth coaxed out of them if it is too painful to simply utter.

Minimize external distractions – Trying to speak or listen when there are distractions around you is difficult. You need to turn off the TV, switch off the radio, stop reading, stop writing, and just pay attention. The speaker must also cease any distracting activities.

Respond appropriately – If you are genuinely taking an interest and listening, this should take care of itself. However, do bear in mind that some people are less animated than others, and if you are like this, you may want to insert a few nods or verbal acknowledgements. It may help to say you understand or offer other spoken encouragements every so often. Be careful not to overdo it, though. Saying “wow”, “really?”, and “fascinating” every few seconds can be distracting in itself, or it may seem false, as though you are sticking to some formula you read in a book. You can also ask questions, provided they do not interrupt the flow of the speaker’s thoughts.

Focus on the speaker – This means fighting the temptation to prepare what you are going to say whilst they are speaking. This can be difficult to resist, especially when the speaker says something that sparks a useful response in us that we fear we will have forgotten by the time they finish speaking. If you do want to recall a point they have made, try remembering just one trigger word that will help, rather than working out your whole reply in your head in advance. Remember that the conversation will usually follow a logical flow once the speaker has finished, so there should be no need to do anything other than listen.
If you want to purchase the e-book for $3.50
Click Here

As A Man Thinketh – Poem by James Allen

As A Man Thinketh

You will be what you “will” to be;
Let failure find its false content
In that poor word, “environment”,
But spirit scorns it, and is free.

It masters time, it conquers space;
It cowes that boastful trickster, Chance,
And bids the tyrant Circumstance
To uncrown, and fill a servant’s place.
The human will, that force unseen,

The offspring of a deathless Soul,
Can hew a way to any goal,
Though walls of graite intervene.

Be not impatient in delay
But wait as one who understands;
When spirit rises and commands
Then God is ready to obey.

James Allen

In the first verse James tells us “we will be, what we will to be”. This tells me that what ever I focus on, I will become. Next he says that we find a false sense of comfort in blaming my environment for my failures. The economy is bad, things are tough all over, look where I live, I have no education, whatever your excuse if you use them you will fail. But the spirit in me shakes these excuses and is free to build the life I want to live.

The second verse tells us “The will to be” controls our future. Taking away the power from the words luck and chance. When we use this “I would like to do this, but I can not because… Because is the introduction to our circumstance. An Circumstance is our king. Our “Will” turns our surroundings/circumstance, into our servant not our king.

The third verse tells us that our soul empowers our human will. Not inanimate objects or what others do or think of us. I read about a lady in the early 1950’s decided to publish a magazine and she took it to a readership of 250.000. That in itself is a feat for a woman at that time. To make her story more amazing is she did this while she was paralyzed from the neck down. No computers or talk to text software. Where there is a will, there is a way.

The fourth verse tells us that “you will reap what you sow.” Do not get impatient. Focus you will and start to plant the seeds that will grow your goal. Just like you plant a kernel of corn in the ground and you give it a season to grow to maturity. It is the same with your goal. With goals we do not know how long the season of growth is, so be patient. If you live this poem, God will bless your seeds with a bountiful crop to harvest.

Prepare For Your Future – Dream Big

Prepare For Your Future
Stop looking at your past.
Look into your future.
You are in the present moment.
Technically you can not change the present.
It is already happening.
Dream of how you want your future to be.
Give birth, get a clear picture of your future.
Write it down.
Do something to make it happen.
Prepare for the miracle to happen.

Everyone tells you to stay out of the future and live in the present moment. This is technically impossible to do. The only thing you can change is your future, because the present is already happening. To change anything you have to concieve it in the present moment. The change can only take place in the future.

I needed to slow live down to one second at a time to understand this concept. If I am walking and want to sit down, I can not sit down in the present moment. For I am presently walking. I can walk and dream about sitting down. It is only in the future when I can sit down.

So really give this some thought and then start to actively start to dream about your future.

Goal Setting – Writing My Book

I am one of a few who are giving a retreat next weekend. Last year I started by making a commitment to the 25 guys who where attending the retreat. I told them that next year I would hand them a copy of my book.

At the time I did not know what the book would be about. I am not a writer. This makes it even more of a shock that I announced that I would write and publish a book in a year. But what I teach is mental discipline. Make a decision to do something and getting it done. This took mental discipline.

As I was showing my vision board and what had come to pass in the last year, the thought came to me, what better way to show them how to take something you do not know how to do, pick a completion date and go about accomplishing the goal.

My best tool in the whole process was the completion date. This did not allow me alot of time to have a debate over if I could do it or not. I knew it would be done and that was that. I was faced with what to write about. I ponder this a little but not much. Time flew by. It is the end of August, I had not started to do anything yet. Not even a topic to write about. Labor Day weekend was coming up. I would have a few days off. I knew if I did not take this time to write it would really be hard to accomplish my goal. I was looking at the time I had left. There is no time to do much research. This means I need to pick something that I know about and have a personal story to go with it. No research if I lived the book.

My life has been eventful. So I was not lacking for topics. I choose the last big event in my life, because this would be the freshest in my mind. I had just lost 48 pounds over the course of a year and kept it off for the past 6 months. The length of the book would be between 32 pages and 90. I picked 12 for the number of chapters. I knew who I was going to ask to edit my book.

Labor Day weekend I started to write. It was a struggle. One of the things that made it hard was my inexperience with how a book is set up. I was typing my book in word. Not in the format of a book. As I was writing my thoughts went to I will be lucky to get 32 pages. When I put the 35 pages I wrote and edited into the publishers format the book was around 70 pages. As I continued to edit, ideas came to me and I added material and brought the page count up to 80. It is Christmas week.

I needed to typeset the words so it looked good. I did the best I could. There are mistakes in formatting. By my next book I should have them resolved.

I needed a front and back cover designed. This was a little scary. I went to fiverr.com for my graphic artist. He did a great job on the front cover. Now what do I put on the back cover? My biography made the most sense, since I could not think of anything else. I seen a friend of mine Bob Calhoun and asked him to write my biography. He was a little shocked. Told me that he did not know me well enough to write a biography. I asured him he knew enough about me to accomplish the task.

A couple of days later he sent me what he wrote. He nailed it first time. A little editing and the biography on the back cover is what he wrote.

I then got the graphic artist to design the back cover. I already had a relationship with him so that went fast. Uploaded the cover and the text to the publisher. The learning curve was not to bad. I got it to where I liked it. I order a couple of proof copys.

The proof copy showed me some more mistakes. These mistakes I would not have seen on a computer screen, but in a hard copy, they were easy to see. Upload the corrections to the publisher. The only thing left to do was to push the pubish button. Pushed the publish button Febuary 8, 2013.

When you give yourself a deadline and do not entertain doubts you can accomplish anything you want. Never give up!