Monthly Archives: January 2014

Struggle To Find Yourself



by Edgar Guest

I have to live with myself, and so,
I want to be fit for myself to know;
I want to be able as days go by,
Always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don’t want to stand with the setting sun
And hate myself for the things I’ve done.
I don’t want to keep on a closet shelf
A lot of secrets about myself,
And fool myself as I come and go
Into thinking that nobody else will know
The kind of man I really am;
I don’t want to dress myself up in sham.
I want to deserve all men’s respect;
But here in this struggle for fame and pelf,
I want to be able to like myself.
I don’t want to think as I come and go
That I’m for bluster and bluff and empty show.
I never can hide myself from me,
I see what others may never see,
I know what others may never know,
I never can fool myself — and so,
Whatever happens, I want to be
Self-respecting and conscience free.

Definition of “Pelf” – Money, Riches

Example of using pelf –  “a politician who seems more interested in pelf than in policy”

Once we resolve this issue with ourselves we attain true freedom. Edgar said in the one line, “I want to deserve all men’s respect;”. This is my goal, not for everyone to like me, but to command respect of my fellow man by my actions.

For to have someone like me I must play to their emotions. Which will change depending on so many factors in our daily lives. The weather, amount of sleep, hunger, stuffed, a death in their family, bad grades, stuck in traffic… The list is endless of the things that will effect another’s mood. I have no control over these events in another’s life. Not to trivialize my behavior, but the person I am trying to get to like me may have had some tragic event happen and I do some little thing and they seem to be blowing it way out of proportion. Then I am put in a bad mood. Questioning my self worth.

I hold myself to a set of standards that I can look in the mirror and say to myself ” I did the best I could today and that is enough”,  Then I will have the respect of everyone. Even the ones who do not like me or agree with me.

This every man can achieve.  Regardless of where he finds himself. He can stand in full view of everyone with nothing to hide.

“I see what others may never see,
I know what others may never know”

These things are ready to let others see, the price they pay to see is their present pain, which their view of this part of my life will ease their pain and give them the strength to stand strong and continue on.

You Decide

You’re the person who has to decide

whether you’ll do it, or toss it aside.

You’re the person who makes up your mind

whether you’ll lead, or will linger behind.

Whether you’ll try for the goal that’s afar,

or just be contented to stay where you are.

         -Edgar Quest 1881-1959-

We are taught from the start that outside circumstances control our outcomes in life. To keep us from the feelings of failure, they taught us to be grateful for what you have or where you are. This is true. It is the way that it was presented to us. They would usually pick some person in a third world country. This person would be starving, thirsty, dying from some disease, or in slavery. Another persons pain never gave me any gratitude for my present circumstance. Today I know they meant well.

I would feel empathy for the other person, not gratitude. What a confusing time in my life. To know the truth, yet the adults in my life where teaching me something I knew was not true.

We were also taught some people were meant to be poor and some were meant to be rich and God picked who they were. So if you are poor it is meant to be and God loves the poor person more then the rich. Some even went so far as to say that the rich were evil. This I new was also a lie.

After years of being indoctrinated into this way of looking at life, when I became an adult I continued in this confusion. I just fought the thoughts. Finally, I started to put new thoughts into my mind. This needed to be done repeatedly, to push it into my subconscious mind. Over time the new way of thinking has changed my life.

I am always retraining my mind, that is why I brought you this poem today. This poem is the way I choose to think. I am in control of my thoughts and actions. If I am in control of my thoughts, I am in control of my destiny. This I am grateful for, but I will strive for more today. Because I can not maintain an attitude of gratitude on yesterdays accomplishments.

The best way to learn something is to teach it.

Improving Your Active Listening Skills – Part 2

Improving Your Active Listening Skills – Part 2

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.

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.

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Improving Your Active Listening Skills Part 1

Improving Your Active Listening Skills – Part 1

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 reserved with their information, or not to bother at all.

Face the speaker – It is important to adopt the correct physical attitude. Slouching in a chair that is facing a window whilst the speaker is placed to one side of you does not create the right impression. You should be sitting up straight, your body facing the speaker and canted slightly forward to show your interest through positive body language.

Maintain eye contact – This does not mean never blinking or looking away. There needs to be a comfortable and comforting degree of eye contact when two people are communicating. Where eye contact is broken, it should not be to take an interest in someone or something else. It is pretty obvious when this is happening. There is no magic formula for when to break eye contact, for how long, and where else to look. Just remember that eye contact will be largely governed by how genuinely interested you are in what the speaker is saying. If you have no interest, or are not concentrating with active listening, then you can be fairly confident that your level of eye contact will be giving the game away.

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.

The Four Components of Active Listening

The Four Components of Active Listening

There are four basic components that allow active listening to take place, and the onus for these is on the listener. These are: acceptance, empathy, honesty, and specifics.


Acceptance is about having respect for the person you are talking to, not on the basis of what they have to say, but rather based on the simple fact that they are a human being who has the right to express their thoughts. This acceptance should be as unconditional as possible, with the provison that there may be instances where the beliefs or opinions expressed are so outside the boundaries of the law and morality that acceptance must be withdrawn.

Accepting means trying to avoid expressing agreement or disagreement with what the other person is saying, at least initially. This encourages the other person to be less defensive and more open to further exploring their situation and revealing more of themselves.


This is usually interpreted as the listener’s ability to understand the speaker’s situation on an emotional level, based on the listener’s own frame of reference rather than a sense of what should be felt – which is sympathy, not empathy. In other words, to empathize with the speaker, you should know how they are feeling because you have experienced the same or very similar feelings yourself. For example, you cannot properly have empathy with a bereaved individual unless you have experienced a similar loss of a loved one.

Empathy may also be defined as the listener’s desire to feel the speaker’s emotions, regardless of their own experience, but this does not really get to the heart of the matter. True empathy is a rare and wonderful thing, and requires that there is a genuine emotional reaction in the listener based on personal experience.


This is self-explanatory. This refers to openness, frankness, and genuineness on the part of the listener. This means that the listener is open about their reactions to what they have heard. This must necessarily come after the acceptance component, and once the speaker has divulged as much as they are going to. Honest reactions given too soon can easily stifle further clarification on the part of the speaker.

The aim is that candor on the part of the listener evokes candor in the speaker. When one person comes out from behind a facade, the other is more likely to do the same.


This refers to the need to deal in details rather than generalities.

Often, a person who has a problem will avoid painful feelings by being abstract or impersonal. They may speak about general situations that “other people” experience, without directly involving themselves or suggesting that they are in any way affected. For communication to be worthwhile, the listener should therefore request that the speaker is more specific. This may necessitate a direct challenge to the speaker to open up on a personal level and “own” the problem they are pussy-footing around. Clearly, this could work two ways.

For these four components to work effectively, they should be clearly evident in the listener. Whilst some people may speak openly in the vain and unsubstantiated hope that their listener will respond correctly, others will require upfront signs that their words will be received as they would wish. This is a decidedly tough ask, especially in a business environment where the two people may be manager and employee and have little knowledge of how the other person usually behaves. In this case, it has more to do with the speaker’s intuitive assessment of the listener than on the listener’s ability to create the perfect listening persona.

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Common Barriers to Active Listening

Common Barriers to Active Listening

Listening may be affected by several barriers that impede proper communication.


Ignorance and Delusion

The first barrier to active listening is simply not realizing that it is not taking place. Most of us can get through life adequately without developing our listening skills, mostly because we fail to classify listening as a skill to start with, and because most everyone else is in the same state of ignorance. It is very easy to then delude yourself into thinking that listening just involves allowing another person to speak in your presence. Even when you are the one talking and faced with a lousy listener, it still may not dawn that you are every bit as bad at listening as they are. It is only when faced with a truly gifted listener – one who actively listens – that we may become aware of how lacking we are by comparison.


The possible result of actively listening to another person may be that you become embroiled in their situation in some way. People who share problems often do so because they are seeking advice, but they may also want the listener to become more deeply involved. Where this is obvious from the outset, the listener may be reluctant to become implicated and may therefore willfully fail to lend a sympathetic and understanding ear.

Bias and Prejudice

The listener’s personal interpretation of what they are hearing may cause them to respond negatively to the speaker. They either assume that they know the situation because they have been faced with similar in the past, or they allow their preconceptions to color the way they respond. In the first case, the listener does not properly listen to the facts because they already think they know the full story. This means they might belittle the problem or offer a response that does not meet the needs of the listener. In the second case, the listener judges the speaker negatively because the speaker’s opinions or beliefs run counter to their own.

Subject Matter

The listener may simply not be interested in what the speaker is saying. This may be because they find the subject dull, because they feel it is too far beyond their experience to comment on, or because their lack of knowledge causes them to dismiss the severity of the problem. All these will cause the listener to switch off to a certain extent.

Status of the Speaker

The listener’s opinion of the speaker, as a person, may influence the extent to which they pay attention and give their time. This may be based on simple likes and dislike, or on status. The former situation may cause the listener to hang on every word or positively resent the imposition. The latter situation may also produce these same results: the thoughts of a low status speaker may be deemed unworthy, and those of a high status individual may provoke attention because the listener feels honored to have been included or consulted.

How the Listener is Feeling

Even if it is in your job description to listen to other people, your ability to actively listen to them can easily be affected by how you are feeling at that moment. We all know how this goes. If you’re not careful, your emotions can dictate your whole day. This particularly includes how you respond to people who want to bend your ear with their problems. If you are in a good mood, you feel loving and giving and able to offer your best advice based on your incisive analysis of what you have just actively listened to. If your mood sucks, the very notion that someone wants to burden you with their thoughts, let alone their problems, just makes you resentful. So you fake it and pretend to pay attention and be interested, wasting everyone’s time.

Time and Place

These are the physical factors that influence whether you are willing or able to actively listen to what you are being told. If you have limited time in which to listen, you may be so concerned with time constraints that you cannot concentrate sufficiently to really listen. The truth is that even five minutes of active listening may prove golden time for the speaker, but it may not be possible with a clock-watching listener.

Location can also be a problem. Having a heart-to-heart in the street next to a mechanical digger in full swing is never going to be conducive to active listening. Equally, trying to talk about a delicate matter with someone who is hard of hearing and who won’t wear an aid in the middle of a crowded restaurant is doomed to failure. These may be extreme examples, but they highlight the importance of choosing the right time and place. As a listener, it is far better to be honest and schedule a more appropriate time and place than to succumb to the pressure to listen now and then not listen at all.

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