Listening Works!

I dedicate this article to my unparalleled mother, Toby Litt. Her work as a communication specialist and spiritual guide continues to power and inspire me everyday. The name of her company was Listening Works.

Few of us have been taught to listen because so few of us have been listened to. 

First as children, then as adults… we live in a society of impatience, distraction, of multi-tasking and self-serving agendas. We are in such need to be heard, to share what we have to say, to explain our side of the argument-- to show what we know.  

We enter conversations with our point or angle in mind. Sometimes it’s as if you let the other person speak just so you can get your turn to say what you need to say. To be right or to win. 

When we don’t listen, we all lose. 

Did you know that most conflicts and challenges we experience are caused by ineffective listening which translates into miscommunication?

Yup, it’s true! 

So how do you know what kind of listener you are? Let’s take a look at the three levels of listening:

1. Subjective Listening: Also known as "selfish listening" because the listening is based on the agenda and needs of the listener. Whatever is said is heard through the experience of the listener. This type of listening rarely satisfies the person who is speaking.  

Speaker: I’m so upset that I missed my son’s soccer game. 

Listener: Yeah, I missed my daughter’s play once and I felt awful.

2. Objective Listening: Also known as "selfless listening" because the listening is completely focused on the speaker. There are no thoughts about how it relates personally to the listener and can be very effective. It allows the speaker to feel heard.

Speaker: I’m so upset that I missed my son’s soccer game. 

Listener: Seems like you’re really disappointed. 

3. Intuitive Listening: Also known as "powerful listening” because the listener is hearing all components and intuitively connecting with the speaker’s real message. The listener is not only paying attention to the words, but also tone, emotion, and energy, as well as what is not being said. This level of listening creates the deepest connection with the speaker. 

Speaker: I’m so upset that I missed my son’s soccer game. 

Listener: Being so upset is totally understandable. It seems like like you’re feeling really down on yourself about it and what it may mean about everything you are trying to balance right now.  

In life, we all listen at all the levels. After all, you’re human. But by being more aware, you can take steps to reach for those deeper levels. 

I will say this, to powerfully listen is to hear with the intention to understand. To powerfully listen we must be silent, we must be present in the moment, we must pay attention, we must be curious, we must be open-minded and vulnerable. And most importantly, we must kick our EGO to the curb.

The Hidden Gifts of this Presidential Race

Well wow. All I can say is that I am actually happy I watched last night’s presidential debate until the very end. The last two minutes were, without question, the highlight.  Did you feel the energy shift? I sure as hell did. Positivity works.  Leading with respect and kindness works.  As soon as each candidate had to focus on the good, they calmed, they seemed a bit humbled and were able to see the other as a human being.  Could you imagine what the debate would be like if they started that way? Or even better, if we didn’t allow this disgusting, disrespectful behavior at all?  Requiring that each candidate answer questions directly and without turning it around to discuss something negative about their opponent?  The truth is, neither is better than the other in this category.  You can talk all you want about the high road, but talk is cheap and action is everything.  With all the EGO on that stage, it’s amazing that there was any room for the town hall guests.

This 2016 presidential election is a gift to us, as it most definitely shines a light on areas of opportunity in us all, individually and as a society. In short, watching the demeanor of our two candidates is showing us exactly what NOT to do in life…

1.     Opportunity #1 – Judging

Can we please cut this shit out?  He made mistakes, she made mistakes. One can argue that he is worse, or she is worse.  It doesn’t matter, because all of that is judgement. Then we decide what “meaning” we are going to put to things and then bam, evil. And really, who the hell are we to judge? Have you never had a moment that you wish you could take back? If someone followed you around all day, would we witness nothing but ideal behavior, thoughts, and language? I’m not defending, because that too would be a form of judgement, nor am I saying not to be informed on each nominee’s merits and policy. I’m simply saying: each person’s journey in life is unique and valid. Period. End of story. We are all connected, so stop judging as if you are the chosen one.

2.     Opportunity #2 – Not Listening

There is ZERO listening and ZERO effort to communicate going on.  What’s happening here are two huge EGOS fighting to be heard, to make their point, and to say whatever they want, even if it doesn’t apply at all. To listen is to seek to understand. If each of us slowed down when we communicate, truly listen, and then in return are given the space to be listened to, we would have immeasurable improvement in relationships, business, parenting, and overall fulfilment.

3.     Opportunity #3: Meanness and Bullying

The antics of this presidential race and debate are all about tearing down your opponent to build yourself up. Come on people!!! How can we be so evolved and have so many advancements, but this one we’re still struggling with?! If you want to win or gain something, do it on your own accord, under the merits of who you are, what you stand for, and what you have to offer. Being mean only makes you look like an asshole and discounts anything positive you may have brought to the table. We are working as a nation to eliminate bullying, and here, our two leadership options are covered in it.  Unacceptable.

I believe everything is a gift, yes everything.  So our gift in this 2016 craziness is to see that we are always at choice. We can choose openness over judgement, listening over needing to be right, and kindness and respect over meanness and bullying.  




Watch Your Language!

Watch Your Language!

For those of you who have had a conversation with me or heard me speak, you may find the title of this column laughable. So no, I am not speaking of my colorful, sometimes taboo ways of expression. I am talking about the way we say things to ourselves, specifically the words we use and the toll they take on who we are.

Let’s focus on these three monsters: I can’t, I should, I have to… 

I can’t. If you think you can’t, you definitely won’t. If you recall, he was the little engine that could because he chanted, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” So he did. This one is straight-forward and simple. I’m curious to know, what makes you think you can’t in the first place? Because you can. You CAN do anything. When you tell yourself you can, you are loving yourself, empowering yourself, and tapping into the energy to go for it!

I should. Enough already with this word! Should is dripped with shame. I should go to the gym, I should call my parents, I should organize my closet, I should get to work earlier, I should have known that. Should according to whom?  

Should is often brought on by guilt or comparison, both of which are no way to live. If you do something because you “should”, the likelihood of enjoyment and effectiveness is low. And even more harmful, if you don’t do what you “should,” then you’ve failed or disappointed yourself. How’s that for a punch right in the face of self-esteem and worthiness?! So stop “shoulding” on yourself or anyone else for that matter.

I have to.  No one has to do anything, ever. I have to pay my bills, I have to go grocery shopping, I have to work on getting clients for my business. I’m not suggesting these things aren’t real; I am suggesting the way you’re saying them isn’t helping.

The energy behind “have to” is low and totally not motivating. You are resisting, which makes whatever you think you “have to” do more difficult. When you move into “choose to, you are living consciously. You can then turn a “choose to” into a “want to”. I want to pay my bills, so I can continue to live comfortably. I want to go grocery shopping, so I can enjoy my food for the week. I want to get more clients, so my business can thrive. The energy in “want to” is catapulting.

When you notice a monster word come out, stop and try an empowering replacement. Notice the energy shift when you speak the new phrase and smile, because you know it feels good!

Healthy Selfish: A Key Element in Igniting Your Power

Healthy Selfish: A Key Element in Igniting Your Power

It was a typical summer morning, my three daughters getting ready for camp. While eating breakfast, my oldest asks, “Can you drop me off at my camp after you drop my sisters off so I don’t have to sit and wait so long before camp starts?” Without hesitation, I said, “Sorry, I can’t do that. I have a 9 AM workout class that's important to me and if I make that change, I’ll miss my class. So you can hang there and wait.” 

She looked up at me with a dumbfounded face.....