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Supportive Listening™ Winter 2009 Newsletter
"Listening Tips" with Paul:
Making Holiday Listening More Enjoyable
Underneath the mechanical techniques of listening, there is something much more powerful: the mindset, the set of attitudes, that you bring into a conversation.

If you’re like most people, you don’t go into conversations with a conscious mindset. Rather you leave it to chance, and find that while some interactions go well, otherwise go poorly—and you don’t know why.

Because your mindset has a major impact on the conversation, it’s worth paying attention to. And herein lies the good news: when you consciously bring your best “listening game”, with a great listening mindset, you’ll have a better experience.

Here are two of my favorite mindsets for enjoyable holiday listening.  

Mindset #1: Goodwill There you are, at a holiday party, talking with someone you’ve just met. Sometimes this is a person you take an instant liking to, and sometimes… it isn’t.

I have news for you: they can tell. You may think you can hide it, but deep down, they can tell.

So here’s what you can do: leverage the power of mindset to find an authentic “source of goodwill” to bring into the conversation.  

If you pause for a moment, you can find something to appreciate about anyone. You don’t have to say it out loud, but you can certainly make a point of noticing it, and using that appreciation to bring goodwill into the interaction.

Here’s an example. Once I was at a party listening to a young woman talk about her plans to start a new venture. I was taken aback by her bravado—while she outwardly claimed that she knew precisely how to make her venture a success, her ideas, experiences, and body language told me otherwise.

I briefly considered asking her a tough question, but then thought “heck, it’s the holidays.” Instead I took a deep breath and looked for a point of goodwill. And a funny thing happened...

Continue online for Mindset#2 and an exercise.
Could you use some listening?
Are you interested in being part of a pilot test of Supportive Listening via the Internet?

Paul is looking for people who would like to receive Supportive Listening via webcam, and provide feedback on the experience.

If you're interested, or know somebody who is, send Paul an email to find out more.

"From the Listening Labs" with Eran:
A Hidden Oasis from Holiday Stress

In this crazy world, in this rushed and hurried life, stress is ever present.

It finds us at different moments of our day: In bed, trying to fall asleep, our head is filled with thoughts of things that need to get done; in the car, we hope that no unexpected delay will occur, since we do not have much time to lose; when meeting our friends, we try to quiet the distracting thoughts that take us away from the conversation.

On occasion, we can tell that we are more irritable than we need to be, make careless errors, or feel easily hurt by others. We are stressed, and stress is an inescapable fact of life.

Or is it? Have we come to accept those sleepless nights, the feelings of being rushed, agitated, or easily upset, even though we do not have to? The truth is that there is an incredible resource that is available to us, which can help us feel better and less stressed, a resource that is often ignored and rarely utilized to its full effect. And this resource is - our friends, our family, the people in our lives whom we can about and who care about us.

Today, I would like to encourage you to be selfish - to take the time and share an issue that is on your mind with someone who is close to you. To allow this other person to support you. The simple act of genuinely connecting with another person who cares for us is powerfully balancing and calming.

And when a friend or a family member shares with you an issue that is on their mind, give them the gift of Supportive Listening. Bring your full self to the conversation, listen to them closely, and do your best to understand their experience from their perspective.

Hold off on the interpretation, the advice, the "listen what happened to me" stories - and just check in with them once in a while, to make sure you understand their story. You will be amazed at how easily they talk, at how their seemingly scattered thoughts eventually evolve into a pattern that is meaningful and satisfying not only to you, but also to them.

Give the gift of your presence, your complete attention, and your warm regard, and watch this person, who you care about, flourish in the warmth that you bring.

-- Eran

How is holiday-time listening for you?
Join the conversation online.

Presenting "Master the Tango of Listening"

Is your organization looking for a fun, interactive experience? Paul's new one hour talk, or two hour workshop, includes stories from the dance floor, partner movement and listening exercises, and group discussion.

Participants come away with a greater appreciation for the power of listening, and a practical tool they can start using right away.

Question? Contact Paul.

Eran Magen conducts research on population health at the University of Pennsylvania as a Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholar. He received his Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University, where he also earned his M.A. in education. [more...]
Paul Konasewich teaches listening and leadership in the San Francisco Bay area. He is also the current Board President of the Bay Area Organization Development Network. Paul earned his MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. [more...]
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