It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. Ralph Waldo Emerson

When we do something for someone else we make a deposit in the bank of life. Good deeds are remembered and come back to us.

One of the members of the Writer’s Group says he learns more from teaching English to his students than he did taking it in class. Teaching is one of the best ways to learn.

Being a mentor to someone is one of the ways we grow and develop as we help them grow and develop.

Encouragement is one of the ways we can help people. It doesn’t take much to offer an encouraging word or a hug. We can show enthusiasm for something they want to do. Can we help them see alternatives when something isn’t working out? Can we help them see the humor? We can encourage them to keep going when it seems progress is slow. We can be respectful of them, their efforts, their goals, their plans, and their dreams.

When we give feedback about things that need to improve we can sandwich it between things they do well, one negative for two positives.

When we listen to people we can be selfish listeners, unselfish listeners or judgmental listeners. We may have to ask our self some questions as we evaluate what type of listener we are. Do we resist the temptation to judge or bring our own world into the situation? To be effective unselfish listeners we must stay on the topic and theme the speaker introduced. We need to try and view the world through their eyes, see things as they are seeing them.

If we can understand what the person is saying and feeling without bringing our thoughts and feelings into the conversation we affirm them, we support them. If we start recounting how we had a bigger success or a bigger problem than the one they are recounting we make it about our self. We are being a selfish listener. If they feel judged they will regret confiding in us.

I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn. I must do it by listening. Larry King

We need to create an atmosphere where people feel safe discussing their concerns. When we are present and actively listening to them they feel they are welcome to share with us instead of being made to feel they are intruding on our time.

We need to use an ideal amount of eye contact when listening. What is the ideal amount of eye contact? Too little or no eye contact conveys disinterest or noninvolvement. Constant staring may be threatening and produce defensiveness in the other person. The ideal amount is a comfortable amount of eye contact but with few breaks. Through eye contact, we convey our sympathy, empathy, and understanding. If we interrupt someone they may lose their train of thought.

It is a big compliment to be told we are a good listener. To live a happy life we have to have healthy and happy relationships. Good communication skills are crucial to building healthy and happy relationships. Good communication skills entail both being able to talk effectively and listen effectively. Listening may be the most important skill. We are told we have two ears and one mouth because we should listen more than we talk.

We know we can avoid many problems in life by communicating better. When we give someone our full attention and listen to what they are saying, we are communicating respect. When we are good listeners we are more likable. Listening creates goodwill.

Relationships get through storms not by talking, but by listening. The other person needs to feel heard. When they feel heard they feel understood. If they feel we really get their concerns healing can begin. Conflict arises when we are only listening to insert our next point into the conversation, instead of listening to understand what the other person thinks, feels or needs.

When we listen we should face the person speaking to us and maintain eye contact. We should be attentive and relaxed. We should listen with an open mind. Can we resist the urge to interrupt, even if something is not clear we should wait for the person to pause before asking a clarifying question? Any problem we have can be helped by listening, bad communication makes things worse, and good listening makes things better.

Are there relationships in our life that can be improved through better communication? Can we try to become a better listener?

When you talk you are only repeating what you know; but when you listen, you may learn something new. Dalai Lama

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The encouragement book: Becoming a positive person (A Spectrum book) Paperback – 1980


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