When I talk about the Process of Manifestation to people they look at me a little strange for a while. I know it’s because they have already failed the very first step in the process. They are not listening correctly to what I am saying.
You see the very first step in the process is listening. There are two parts to this: the protection part and the active listening part. Today I want to share about the active listening part.
In the process you have to be an ‘active’ listener. You can’t ask someone a question and then don’t pay attention to the response. This is what many of us do and we often do it as a matter of habit. If you have not been trained on how to listen well then it is a good bet you are not a good listener. Most of us have these files in our head that we pull up whenever we meet someone and we think we already know what they are going to say so we already have a patterned response for them. In fact we could really carry on the entire conversation without them saying a word.
Last night I played this trick on my wife to get her response. I started a conversation with her and carried on the entire conversation but the dialogue was totally only me talking. It when something like this:
“Hey honey how was your day at work? Good!? Oh that’s great. Did you have anything exciting happen? No!? Well that was a great day. I had a really productive day myself and got to speak with a few people and sold some books. I think we both had such a great day and I know you wish every day was like today. Did you get to eat your lunch in peace? Oh that’s wonderful dear. I had a couple of hot dogs myself. Oh listen I wanted to know if you had made any plans for Friday evening because I wanted us to go out? No that’s great! We’ll have a lot of fun and meet some new people. Okay it’s time for me to go to our sons house so I’ll see you soon.”
The entire conversation I had all by myself and she never said a word. She also thought I had lost my mind by the time I was done and we laughed at my silliness. But I did it to share with her what I am sharing with you now.
She said that she had a hard day and that she did not get to eat her lunch. She was glad to be home until I started the crazy talking. hahaha But the point is this we have to become an active listener to those who we are have a conversation with or we might as well fill in their part for them and get everything all wrong. Becoming a good listener to what someone is saying is extremely important to the process because it is the first third of your foundation.
Lacking good listening skills is maybe the biggest reason why many people can’t get what they want in life because when they ask God for things they don’t know how to shut up and stop talking. They don’t know how to listen to God’s response. It really would not matter what His response would be because many people keep talking right through His response and then they have the nerve to say God never talks to me! Well, how do you know He doesn’t? You never stop talking long enough for anyone to get a word in.
When talking to others or to God, do you get diarrhea of the mouth?
Here are some tips to becoming a good listener
by Dianne Schilling
In today’s high-tech, high-speed, high-stress world, communication is more important than ever, yet we seem to devote less and less time to really listening to one another. Genuine listening has become a rare gift—the gift of time. It helps build relationships, solve problems, ensure understanding, resolve conflicts, and improve accuracy. At work, effective listening means fewer errors and less wasted time. At home, it helps develop resourceful, self-reliant kids who can solve their own problems. Listening builds friendships and careers. It saves money and marriages.
Here are 10 tips to help you develop effective listening skills.
Step 1: Face the speaker and maintain eye contact.
Talking to someone while they scan the room, study a computer screen, or gaze out the window is like trying to hit a moving target. How much of the person’s divided attention you are actually getting? Fifty percent? Five percent? If the person were your child you might demand, “Look at me when I’m talking to you,” but that’s not the sort of thing we say to a lover, friend or colleague.
In most Western cultures, eye contact is considered a basic ingredient of effective communication. When we talk, we look each other in the eye. That doesn’t mean that you can’t carry on a conversation from across the room, or from another room, but if the conversation continues for any length of time, you (or the other person) will get up and move. The desire for better communication pulls you together.
Do your conversational partners the courtesy of turning to face them. Put aside papers, books, the phone and other distractions. Look at them, even if they don’t look at you. Shyness, uncertainty, shame, guilt, or other emotions, along with cultural taboos, can inhibit eye contact in some people under some circumstances. Excuse the other guy, but stay focused yourself.
Step 2: Be attentive, but relaxed.
Now that you’ve made eye contact, relax. You don’t have to stare fixedly at the other person. You can look away now and then and carry on like a normal person. The important thing is to be attentive. The dictionary says that to “attend” another person means to:
apply or direct yourself
remain ready to serve
Mentally screen out distractions, like background activity and noise. In addition, try not to focus on the speaker’s accent or speech mannerisms to the point where they become distractions. Finally, don’t be distracted by your own thoughts, feelings, or biases.
Step 3: Keep an open mind.
Listen without judging the other person or mentally criticizing the things she tells you. If what she says alarms you, go ahead and feel alarmed, but don’t say to yourself, “Well, that was a stupid move.” As soon as you indulge in judgmental bemusements, you’ve compromised your effectiveness as a listener.
Listen without jumping to conclusions. Remember that the speaker is using language to represent the thoughts and feelings inside her brain. You don’t know what those thoughts and feelings are and the only way you’ll find out is by listening.
Don’t be a sentence-grabber. Occasionally my partner can’t slow his mental pace enough to listen effectively, so he tries to speed up mine by interrupting and finishing my sentences. This usually lands him way off base, because he is following his own train of thought and doesn’t learn where my thoughts are headed. After a couple of rounds of this, I usually ask, “Do you want to have this conversation by yourself, or do you want to hear what I have to say?” I wouldn’t do that with everyone, but it works with him.
Step 4: Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying.
Allow your mind to create a mental model of the information being communicated. Whether a literal picture, or an arrangement of abstract concepts, your brain will do the necessary work if you stay focused, with senses fully alert. When listening for long stretches, concentrate on, and remember, key words and phrases.
When it’s your turn to listen, don’t spend the time planning what to say next. You can’t rehearse and listen at the same time. Think only about what the other person is saying.
Finally, concentrate on what is being said, even if it bores you. If your thoughts start to wander, immediately force yourself to refocus.
Step 5: Don’t interrupt and don’t impose your “solutions.”
Children used to be taught that it’s rude to interrupt. I’m not sure that message is getting across anymore. Certainly the opposite is being modeled on the majority of talk shows and reality programs, where loud, aggressive, in-your-face behavior is condoned, if not encouraged.
Interrupting sends a variety of messages. It says:
“I’m more important than you are.”
“What I have to say is more interesting, accurate or relevant.”
“I don’t really care what you think.”
“I don’t have time for your opinion.”
“This isn’t a conversation, it’s a contest, and I’m going to win.”
We all think and speak at different rates. If you are a quick thinker and an agile talker, the burden is on you to relax your pace for the slower, more thoughtful communicator—or for the guy who has trouble expressing himself.
When listening to someone talk about a problem, refrain from suggesting solutions. Most of us don’t want your advice anyway. If we do, we’ll ask for it. Most of us prefer to figure out our own solutions. We need you to listen and help us do that. Somewhere way down the line, if you are absolutely bursting with a brilliant solution, at least get the speaker’s permission. Ask, “Would you like to hear my ideas?”
Step 6: Wait for the speaker to pause to ask clarifying questions.
When you don’t understand something, of course you should ask the speaker to explain it to you. But rather than interrupt, wait until the speaker pauses. Then say something like, “Back up a second. I didn’t understand what you just said about…”
Step 7: Ask questions only to ensure understanding.
At lunch, a colleague is excitedly telling you about her trip to Vermont and all the wonderful things she did and saw. In the course of this chronicle, she mentions that she spent some time with a mutual friend. You jump in with, “Oh, I haven’t heard from Alice in ages. How is she?” and, just like that, discussion shifts to Alice and her divorce, and the poor kids, which leads to a comparison of custody laws, and before you know it an hour is gone and Vermont is a distant memory.
This particular conversational affront happens all the time. Our questions lead people in directions that have nothing to do with where they thought they were going. Sometimes we work our way back to the original topic, but very often we don’t.
When you notice that your question has led the speaker astray, take responsibility for getting the conversation back on track by saying something like, “It was great to hear about Alice, but tell me more about your adventure in Vermont.”
Step 8: Try to feel what the speaker is feeling.
If you feel sad when the person with whom you are talking expresses sadness, joyful when she expresses joy, fearful when she describes her fears—and convey those feelings through your facial expressions and words—then your effectiveness as a listener is assured. Empathy is the heart and soul of good listening.
To experience empathy, you have to put yourself in the other person’s place and allow yourself to feel what it is like to be her at that moment. This is not an easy thing to do. It takes energy and concentration. But it is a generous and helpful thing to do, and it facilitates communication like nothing else does.
Step 9: Give the speaker regular feedback.
Show that you understand where the speaker is coming from by reflecting the speaker’s feelings. “You must be thrilled!” “What a terrible ordeal for you.” “I can see that you are confused.” If the speaker’s feelings are hidden or unclear, then occasionally paraphrase the content of the message. Or just nod and show your understanding through appropriate facial expressions and an occasional well-timed “hmmm” or “uh huh.”
The idea is to give the speaker some proof that you are listening, and that you are following her train of thought—not off indulging in your own fantasies while she talks to the ether.
In task situations, regardless of whether at work or home, always restate instructions and messages to be sure you understand correctly.
Step 10: Pay attention to what isn’t said—to nonverbal cues.
If you exclude email, the majority of direct communication is probably nonverbal. We glean a great deal of information about each other without saying a word. Even over the telephone, you can learn almost as much about a person from the tone and cadence of her voice than from anything she says. When I talk to my best friend, it doesn’t matter what we chat about, if I hear a lilt and laughter in her voice, I feel reassured that she’s doing well.
Face to face with a person, you can detect enthusiasm, boredom, or irritation very quickly in the expression around the eyes, the set of the mouth, the slope of the shoulders. These are clues you can’t ignore. When listening, remember that words convey only a fraction of the message.
Listening Skills Exercise: Summarize, Summarize, Summarize!
For at least one week, at the end of every conversation in which information is exchanged, conclude with a summary statement. In conversations that result in agreements about future obligations or activities, summarizing will not only ensure accurate follow-through, it will feel perfectly natural. In conversations that do not include agreements, if summarizing feels awkward just explain that you are doing it as an exercise.
I hope this helps. Become a good listener and you may just calm down and you might find the answers you were seeking were right there all along. God was trying to tell you but you kept talking over His answer.