Tag Archives: communication

Thoughts for Thursdays – Mark Nepo

To listen is to continually give up all expectation and to give our attention, completely and freshly, to what is before us, not really knowing what we will hear or what that will mean. In the practice of our days, to listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear. (Mark Nepo)

How often do you really listen to those you love?

I’m betting not as often as you would like to think. So frequently we are too busy judging the other person, considering how to respond, anticipating what we think someone else is going to say, and assuming how they’re feeling, that our minds are far too occupied to just…listen. Instead of quieting our own mind in order to make room for someone else’s thoughts and needs, we make our job as a listener ‘easier’ by switching off. How many times has a friend starting to speak about a familiar topic and you’ve just gone ‘oh, here we go again’, assuming you know what will be said? How many times has someone started to describe how they’re feeling and you’ve jumped in with ‘I know just how you feel. When I…’, instead of considering that they might be feeling something utterly different, if we just give them the time to explain? How many times have you nodded and said ‘uh huh’ when really, you’re a million miles away?

To really listen requires active concentration. We need to concentrate to make sure we are hearing what is being said, not what we assume will be said. We need to concentrate to set aside all our judgment and prejudices in order to provide space for another’s experience of the world.

Never underestimate the good that you can do by simply, really listening to a friend. Often there is no one ‘solution’ to life’s difficulties, and so often a friend isn’t looking for you to fix her problems or sort out his life. Most of us have been lucky to, on occasion, know that we have been heard, really and simply heard, without judgment or assumed understanding by someone who loves us. And we know that it can make a world of difference.

Next time a friend comes to you with a story or a problem or an experience, I challenge you to do just that. Lean in, softly, and listen.

 

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Thoughts for Thursdays – Christopher Morely

“Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity”
(Christopher Morley)

In all the time alone I’ve had since my life changed entirely back in June, I’ve discovered a whole world of perspectives and ideas that I’ve never really noticed before or paid attention to when they appeared previously. I have been given a whole new set of vocabulary with which to to experience the world. Words which once never meant much to me have started to shape how I am living. Words like authenticity. Wholeheartedness. Healing. Then there are words which have always been on my horizon, but I am understanding their meaning in new ways. Words like compassion. Courage. Communication. Shame. Vulnerability.

Sometimes, because I have started to shift so much, I feel like I am stepping out on a path that looks and feels and sounds very, very different to the paths which my friends are taking. Sometimes this makes me doubt myself: why am I now functioning and experiencing the world differently?

It is in those moments that a quote like Morley’s reminds me of the value of change, the value of stepping outside of someone else’s dogma. I have always had an affinity for this quote, and always for one reason: I see it as reassurance to dream my own dreams, think my own thoughts, walk my own path, and use my own words to frame my life.

Sometimes we all need this reassurance. What about you? What experiences do you have of stepping out on your own terms?

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Last Thursday got a away from me a little bit, and I haven’t caught up with it until today. Please enjoy this Thoughts for Thursday on a Monday anyways!

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Thoughts for Thursdays – Henry Adams

“No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.”
(Henry Adams)

Words are  humanity’s greatest tool for communication, and yet its most deceitful and difficult to control. What one writes one way, or says one way, can be changed by something as simple as emphasis. Consider the sentence “I didn’t take your money” and how its meaning can be changed so simply:

I didn’t take your money (…but someone else did…and I might even know who!).

I didn’t take your money (…an emphatic denial of my guilt).

I didn’t take your money (…but I did borrow it).

I didn’t take your money (…but I did take Susie’s…).

I didn’t take your money (…but I did steal your pen).

I learned early on that words are tools: just the right words strung together at just the right moment, with the right rhythm, can create emotion. Isn’t that wonderful? That words, just words, pieced together, can create human emotion? Words can have rhythm and pulse. They can create laughter, cause heartache, incite faith. And yet…and yet, how often do we find that words fail us? Or how often do we find ourselves waffling on and on in an attempt to convey what we’re really feeling and thinking?

And how many times have you been in an argument where you suddenly realize that the wrong words have rolled off your tongue, hurtful words that are miles away from what you really feel and yet slice straight at the heart of someone you love? How many times have you had to explain that “I didn’t mean what I said and I don’t know how to say what I mean”?

We’ve all been there. And that’s why I love quotes. I mean, it’s like a freebie! Someone out there has already said, eloquently and memorably, the very emotion/fact of life/truth that you may have been struggling to put your finger on!

So I am launching my Thoughts for Thursdays as a time when I get to share with you my most favourite quotes. So pull up a chair, have a listen in to why I love them, what I think they’re saying, and why I think they’re important. Maybe you’ll find one that says, just perfectly, something that you too have been trying to capture.

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Cake, and…I love you.

I love cake.

Ok wait, let me be a little more specific. I love homemade cake. I love it best when someone has creamed the butter and sugar, measured and sifted the dry ingredients, folded in the extras, turned it into a tin and watched through the oven window carefully to make sure to take it out at just the right moment.

But I love it best when someone I love has done all those things.

When I bake a cake for someone, I bake it with lots and lots of love. I don’t just mean that I pour a lot of love into it when I’m baking (although I do). I also mean that the whole process, from choosing the cake, baking it, giving it, and sharing it, is a process in which I’m saying ‘I love you’.

That ‘I love you’ sounds a little like this: ‘I love you, so I’m choosing a cake I think you’ll like. I love you, so I’m putting a lot of time and effort into making the cake scrumptious. I love you, so I’m hoping to make you smile on your face when you take the first bite.’

All that from one cake, without even saying the words ‘Hey, I love you…have some cake‘. So if I ever offer you some of my cake…you’ll know what I’m really saying.

Which leads me to ask..how do you say ‘I love you’ to the important people in your life? Maybe you take the time to really listen during a phone-call. Maybe you buy a little something that reminds you of a loved one and pop it in the post. Maybe you tell them how beautiful their smile is.

But just as important as how you say it, is how you like to hear it. What makes you feel the most loved? Is it when someone sits down with you and gives you all their attention? Or maybe it’s when they give you a gift–for no reason at all.

Because the thing is, letting someone know that you love them is about communication. It’s a kind of language…which is why it’s not surprizing that Gary Chapman has assembled a theory about how we communicate love. He believes that there are five different languages to love: giving words of affection; giving quality time; giving gifts; giving acts of service; giving physical touch. Five very different ways of saying ‘I love you’.

What makes the communication difficult is that we tend to give love the way that we would like to receive it. So, if you feel loved when someone gives you physical affection, then you probably will instinctually offer physical affection as a way of expressing your love. Because that’s how you feel loved, you figure that the other person will feel loved because of it too, right? Well…you might be right, if physical affection is one of their primary languages. But if it’s not, then you’re saying ‘I love you’ and your partner isn’t hearing it because she doesn’t speak that language of love. After all, if you came home one day and said “Te iubesc”, your partner wouldn’t have a clue what you were saying…unless they speak Romanian.

From my own experience, I’m on board with Chapman’s theory: gift-giving isn’t one of my primary languages, but I know that when my partner gives me lots of little presents ‘just because’ that it’s one of his languages. The key is to learn each other’s preferred language(s) and to make sure that you communicate in it.

Which begs the question…what about you? Does this theory strike a chord with you? Do you know how you like to hear and say ‘I love you’? Do you know how your partner likes to hear it?

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