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Not Listening is a Form of DISRESPECT…

22 February 2011 No Comment

african american couple arguing

I put a facebook status up the other day saying…

One of the more popular statuses this week...

…and a friend responded asking me to go more in-depth. I thought this one could use a bit more exploration myself, so here goes:

The Background…

It all started with a friend of mine. She has a son about 7 years old, and she was sharing with me how – as much of a daily headache he can be – she always makes sure to listen to him. (Her skype status actually reads, “As a child, the coolest adults were the ones who took the the time to listen… “)

Kelsie Morales Empowering Young Girls...So you know me, I got to work thinking about this: not only on how this was a big theme in the radio interview I did with teen-counselor Kelsie Morales (from “Girl Empowerment TV”), but also in my own life.

The first thing I realized was that as adults, we trivialize what children say and think. Because we’re much older and wiser (and because we already been there…because we already know what they’re thinking and why it’s mistaken), we disregard them when they express themselves.

I realized that there’s a difference between knowing somebody is wrong and HONORING them as they say it …it’s two completely different things, but we connect them in our minds, and thereby fail to connect with the other person.

Some say that most bad behavior is really an effort for ATTENTION, not trouble-making in and of itself. Children learn early on that only way to get noticed (at all) is to do something negative, so when we follow that pattern, we’re actually rewarding them…

The Science Behind It:

African couple arguing in park...People know when you’re trivializing what their saying (even children), so when you form a habit of not listening to them when they’re mistaken (or when you THINK they’re mistaken), it damages the relationship.

Even if they realize they’re wrong, they’ll continue to argue with you almost as a way of exerting their right to be heard and have an independent thought.

I had this big debate about money the other day (one of the big issues), and even though I was wrong (and saw that midway into the discussion), I noticed that my real problem was that I felt DISRESPECTED. In other words, it had nothing to do with money at all, but with my viewpoint being disregarded, just because I was incorrect.

Here’s How to Use It:

Shut up and listen…even when you know EVERYTHING the person is about to say.

…when you’re talking with someone, let go of trying to express you’re thinking, and make it a goal to try and fully understand THEM instead. (This is what’s called “the negative capability”…the ability to fully shut your ish off so you can get the other person.)

African american couple talking

Again, stop thinking about making a point COMPLETELY, and focus only on understanding what the other person is trying to get across…

After a while, when you get really nice with this, you can start explaining people’s mind state back to them better then they can themselves, which is VERY POWERFUL, because then it becomes “you and them vs. the world.

Remember, most people go through their entire lives without ever being fully listened to and acknowledged at all, so when you become that person, you’ll get rewarded:

>> they’ll now fully listen to you and be receptive to your thoughts,

>> both of you will feel more energized, alive and healthy, and

>> the relationship will go deeper.

I went into Best-Buy the other day and me and phone-fixers talked for like 10 minutes about her sick dog. We really had a moment (forgot where I was at for a second), and that’s why I felt upbeat, energized and positive for the entire day…

On a deeper note, don’t be so quick to blame someone for “taking things personal,” and empower yourself by enhancing your communication skills.


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