Listening with both ears
I am in the middle of writing a memoir about my Mother, who died seven years ago. She had her voice box removed in 1993 and lived for 12 more years despite a great deal of pain and compications, including a repeated bout of cancer that was treated with radical radiation.
I remember a time not too long after her surgery --- she had just been fitted with her voice prosthesis and was learning how to speak effectively with it in. We had gone to a card store as we so often loved to do, finding a card that would send us into mutual hysterics. A lady came over to ask Mother if she needed anything and Mother asked if she had a particular line of card. The lady answered her but then turned all her attention to me for the remainder of the conversation, even going so far as to talk about Mother (the same Mother who was standing in front of her) in the 3rd person. Yes, it might have been a bit difficult to understand every word Mother said, but the saleslady quit listening as soon as she saw a disability.
Just for today, I am going to strive to listen to each person I encounter, no matter what I have to get past to hear what they have to say.
Be kind to each other----it pays off in great dividends!
Are we really listening?
Why is it that sometimes we hear just the thing we needed to hear at the exact time we needed to hear it and other times, it seems we are searching for answers and can't get the one we need? I belive it has to do with being "present" in the moment. If I am completely willing to open my ears to hear the messages that are constantly being sent my way, I might hear one or two of them. But I can rest assured if I don't open my ears, I won't hear anything and I will sit there and wonder, "Now why is it I can't seem to get any answers around here?" That great saying, "If you feel yourself not as close to God, ask yourself who moved?" says it best. I believe God is always sending me messages, subtle little hints about goodness and mercy, grace and faith. When I am not hearing those, it is I, certainly not He, who is responsible. One of my favorite sayings I use in workshops is "We were given two ears and one mouth. That means we should speak 1/2 as much as we listen." Great advice in order to hear the messages intended for us.
Have a great day and remember to be kind to each other!
Ask questions instead of fighting back
How many times have we been confronted with people in customer service who confound us when they can't do something for us? I had one such experience in convenient store of all places this morning. No shock to people who know me well, but I had earned a "free soft drink" after purchasing 9 diet cokes in the last couple of weeks. I told the gentleman at the counter, "I think this is my free one." He rang up the purchase and told me I owed $1.55. "Ummm...I'm confused....I thought this was my free drink." He looked at me slowly and then said, "Maybe, but I won't know that until I put it in the system after you pay." So, I tried desperately to understand, "So are you saying I have to pay you first and then you will give me my money back? That doesn't make a lot of sense, does it?" He looked at me slowly again then said, "Let me see here" and then pushed a button and said, "It's free". Now, at this point, I have a couple of options, one being to say "See? I told you!" Instead I simply asked, "Is there something I should say differently the next time to avoid confusion?" He smiled and said, "Just tell me you want to redeem your free one."
At the end of the day, do I want to be right or do I want to make it alright? I don't always choose this route, by the way and I DESPERATELY wanted to say "That's what I told you in the first place!!" But the difference between what we want to say and what we choose to say is often a huge deal.
Be kind to others----it will pay off in dividends.
Don't lose your cool
Just for today, practice less defensiveness. When someone pushes your buttons (and we certainly all have buttons and people who know just where and when to push), our human nature reaction is to want to push back. However, as professionals, we have an obligation and a privilege to be role-models. No matter what leadership role we might have, people are watching us all the time. We are role-modeling all the time. The question is not whether we will be role-modeling, but rather which particular skills we want people to emulate. Personally, I would rather not spread poison if that is what is coming at me. Instead, I pray to remain confident, cool, and professional in the face of poison being thrown at me. Are we guaranteed to change other people when we remain calm, cool, and collected? Heavens no! But Gandhi said it beautifully when he said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Just for today, I am going to try. How about you?