Over the last 20 years positive psychology and positive thinkers have suggested that by simply following a number of steps ‘Happiness’ is in our grasp. Who would not like the idea? But wait a minute …. if there were only 3, 5, or 7 steps to Happiness, would people not have achieved it by now? People are not stupid – at least not the majority. So what is wrong with the picture?
Happiness is not a commodity, a trade-able good that can be acquired by following a prescribed formula – like how to start your car’s engine. (more…)
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” This quote from Stephen R. Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change) describes succinctly the problem most people have when communicating. Most courses and trainings refer to ‘active listening’ as a desirable practice, yet it teaches people to listen to the words, the content, and then repeat it back to the speaker.
In contrast, deep listening as I understand it is listening for the meaning behind the words, is listening for the feeling that the words are pointing it. In a way, it is listening with a sense or curiosity WITHOUT checking with our own mind whether it makes sense to us, we can relate to it, whether it is stupid/reckless/naive to name just a few examples. If we would listen that way (checking with our own mind) we would only listen to our own thoughts about something and not to the other person. (more…)
Most people have enough common sense to mind the weather forecast. You can see that on the motorway when all the cars are slowing down as soon as it starts raining heavily. I remember back when we had a sailing boat, we wouldn’t go out when the winds were so high that the risk factor out-weight the pleasure that could be gained. Of course, there are most likely some exceptions, some people are dare devils who zoomed along the motorway with high-speed totally ignoring the conditions.
Most people however ‘drive to the conditions’. If the weather is particularly nasty, they might even elect to stay at home. It makes perfect sense considering that driving in stormy weather is not pleasurable, it’s dangerous, one’s field of vision is impaired, and you might not get very far. (more…)
Number two of the mistakes that kill the love in relationships is the conviction that MY view of things is right and YOUR views of things is wrong. I don’t think there has ever been a couple that presented for relationship counselling, coaching, or therapy that was not caught in that erroneous assumption.
To be fair, it is not only an affliction couples suffer from, but human kind in general follows that strict line of thinking. Hence the fights, wars, and conflicts we observe throughout history and present day circumstances. How much suffering happened because people thought they were right and hence their actions were justified: from human sacrifice, to slavery, to witch hunt, to wars, oppression, human rights …. the list is endless. (more…)
Most people want to be happy, or at least content. For most people that involves a caring family, partner, or friends. When we have found someone with whom to share our life, dreams, or difficulties.
More and more people understand that there is no such thing as a soul mate, THE ONE that makes me happy. Any relationship can work out as long as people want to make it work. That leaves the onus squarely in the court of each individual. There are 5 mistakes which – if you can avoid them – will almost guarantee you a sustainable, loving relationship. (more…)
Sometimes our relationships are nothing like we’ve imagined it. Sometimes we come to a dead-end and find that we don’t have a clear idea where to go from here.
What is the secret of people who have great relationships, who have loving intimate partners, get along well with their kids, have friends who are fun to be around, and colleagues who are supportive and co-operative?
A common misunderstanding is that you have to find the ‘right’ partner, the ‘right’ boss to work for, the ‘right’ friends. And if that is not helping, you have learn how to communicate better, how to listen actively, how to challenge effectively – in summary how to do things right.
When you go to a communication skills course or read a book about communication skills, the first thing you will notice is the importance of listening skills. I have given courses in communication skills for the last 20 years * and let me tell you REALLY LISTENING is hard for people. You would think it comes natural to us, but nothing is farther from the truth.
The biggest obstacle to good listening that connects people on a deeper level is ‘getting yourself out-of-the-way’. I found most people listen while having their own world-view running in the back of their minds checking every statement to whether they agree or disagree. Does what you say fit into my belief system or not?
That kind of listening makes it all about you, and not about the person who is sharing something about his or her life. No wonder the most uttered complaint I hear is ‘S/he is never listening to me’ while the listener is very much taken by surprise asserting ‘of course I am’. It’s like two ships passing in the dark: they may greet each other with a ‘hoot, hoot’ but never really meet. (Which is actually a good thing when you are a ship!)
Listening to another person in a way that connects you has nothing to do with agreement or disagreement. Listen to the feeling that is behind the words. Listen like you would listen to a violin concerto or the song of the birds. Listen with the ears of a child that is captured by the story that is told. Only when you clear your mind of judgements and pre-conceived ideas while you are listening will you be able to learn something new. Only then will you have new insights. Only then will you grow. Only then will the other person feel listened to!
* check out my next course in communication skills and understanding self and others!