Category Archives: Listening

Why Don’t We Complain

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Have we become more stressed or more Zen-like?

Sure, we all tend to complain about ourselves–our day, our health, our work. That’s a real catharsis when we’re able to destress and release our frustrations. Life’s not fair, and that often is expressed with a justified complaint.

When it comes to inconveniences or less than ideal service, however, mostIMG_3285 people are preferring to go with the flow and let it go. Why don’t we complain? Have we become more compassionate towards those workers in front of us, seeing them as co-habitants of stressful living? Cutting them slack is like an invisible nod of I feel the strain of your job. 

An aversion to confrontation can also be a reason why we don’t complain. People would rather adjust to a defect or go without their request rather than object and risk an altercation. Why don’t we complain? It may be related to how stressed we are and a matter of picking our battles.

In 1961, William F. Buckley, Jr. wrote an essay that describes his amusing struggle to assert himself, called “Why Don’t We Complain?” It originally appeared in Esquire in 1960. He wrote:

Every New Year’s Eve I resolve to do something about the Milquetoast in me and vow to speak up, calmly, for my rights and for the betterment of our society, on every appropriate occasion… When our voices are finally mute, when we have finally suppressed the natural instinct to complain, whether vexation is trivial or grave, we shall have become automatons, incapable of feeling. (Read his entire essay here.)

One of Buckley’s reasons, 55 years ago, for why Americans didn’t complain was due to a reluctance to assert ourselves because of an increased sense of helplessness in an age of technology and centralized political power.

10d69f3e-9b69-4700-9155-2f934eb05151-mediumI can see how that conclusion may no longer be why we don’t complain. There may be people who don’t verbalize what they really think because they don’t want to make a fuss and be thought as difficult. The problem with that plan is that the people who really need to be heard, won’t be. If they don’t share what they think, how will they be heard?

As American’s, we must assert ourselves for the cause of equality and the demonstration of human kindness. Any abatement from this basic human right deserves complaint. Otherwise, we fail as a society.

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

 

What Social Etiquette Reveals About You

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How do you treat other people?

Every day, it seems, I become upset by someone’s mistreatment of another human being. There’s always cruel words involved and a lack of compassion or mercy. It’s on the radio or in the newspaper or on the news–it’s everywhere.

It’s not difficult to show kindness. No expertise is required. It doesn’t listen1necessitate a lot of reading, or a college degree. It doesn’t even cost money–it’s free. It’s a social grace. One of the few humanity decorum’s becoming snuffed out, I fear, with the air of superiority from an increasing amount of people.

I understand how individuals can lose patience with social etiquette. They’re hurried with managing many aspects of their lives. Their busy seems to always be more important than another person’s busy. Plus, it appears they must save their polite and courteous actions and conversations for their friends or bosses, because they sure aren’t showing any social grace with strangers or who they consider nobodies.

10d69f3e-9b69-4700-9155-2f934eb05151-mediumAnd that speaks volumes. People who are unfriendly, or exclude others from their circle are usually conceited and preoccupied with their image. So they tend to be unkind to anyone they perceive as less successful. These are people who don’t tip waiters or bartenders or taxi drivers or hair stylists. They can be rude and demanding to those same people.

If you come across one of them, you might mention that every human being is entitled to the same treatment that he or she demands. Every person is entitled to respect, dignity, and kindness.

So says Mary Killen, author and columnist at The Spectator, “Having good manners boils down to treating others as you would like to be treated yourself,” she says. “You throw your civility and kindness on the water, and it comes back to you.”

Treating others with respect is an act of benevolence that comes back to you. That’s good karma.

I think that’s how it should stay. Social etiquette is good manners. And good manners know no social status. It belongs everywhere.

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

Constructive Criticism, My Ass

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Constructive Criticism, My Ass

I have a thing about the phrase “constructive criticism.” First of all, isn’t it an oxymoron? It seems like a complete contradiction. Plus, there’s no such thing as constructive criticism, is there? It’s not positive criticism. It’s criticism. Plain and simple. There’s no constructive part about it.

There are many people who use this catchphrase. Usually, it’s with a life is hardcondescending voice. It’s typically someone who is cranky, even resentful, and someone who hasn’t had a good laugh is years. “Can I give you some constructive criticism?” It’s a question that puts me on the defensive. If I’m already objecting to the tone of the question, does it matter if the advice or suggestion that follows is good or bad, or whether I follow it?

There are a million and one ways to make a suggestion, or even scold someone, without actually saying “you suck.”

We can be less sarcastic, less disrespectful when pointing out mistakes or blunders to someone under our watch. We can make suggestions more humorous such as, “You’ll pull less hair out if you try it this way.” Or more helpful with “Hey, let me show you what works for me.”

At one time, we all were doing something for the first time.

Why do we criticize other people at all? Is there a living single person knighted with the sole knowledge of all things deemed critical? If it’s not illegal, why do we have an issue with someone who does something different than we would? Does it matter?

daisy2It doesn’t matter. What matters is our kindness. Yeah, I know it’s like a sappy love song, but it’s true. Because it’s grown in the daisy field hills of love, kindness is a power that can drive out a lot of demons in people. I’ve seen it happen many times. People need kindness. Soon, they may pay it forward with some kindness.

Until somebody comes up with a better idea, spread some kindness everywhere you go.

I think the term “Constructive Criticism” can be tossed in the heap of outdated phrases like “Attaboy,” “Copacetic,” “Scram,” and “Cat Pajamas.” No, wait, not Cat Pajamas. I like the cat’s pajamas. 

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com unless otherwise indicated

 

People Have A Right To Be Wrong

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PEOPLE HAVE A RIGHT TO BE WRONG – Dr. Sandy Nelson

We are not satisfied to be right, unless we can prove others to be quite wrong. —William Hazlitt

Some years ago I discovered an important and liberating truth: people have the belief15right to be wrong. Including me. People didn’t need me pointing out where I thought they were misinformed or misguided about global warming or why their opinion about renaissance art was misconstrued or why GMO‘s should be banned from the planet or why Jon Snow should never be killed off.

Instead of trying to force unto others the beliefs I was passionate about, I found it incredibly freeing to grant others the right to their opinion! Imagine that! I no longer became frustrated with people who held views that opposed mine. The urge weakened to butt in and debate their opinion.

niceJudging the choices of others is not the best use of our time. Judging other people isn’t the best use of our character either. When we look down on people who have different opinions and beliefs, it appears we’re superior and we can get snotty and snobbish. UGH!

We all have preferences and opinions that we want respected and accepted but we can be brutal towards others whose preferences and opinions differ from ours. Acceptance of someone’s differing opinion doesn’t mean submission. It means you accept and respect the right of the person to hold his or her own views.

Today, join me in respecting the choices of other people—even if you think their preferences and views are inaccurate. And, better yet, ask why they hold the opinion they do and listen, not debate, listen. You might learn something unexpected.

FullSizeRender (8)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com unless otherwise indicated

How To Listen Up! – Dr Sandy Nelson

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HOW TO LISTEN UP!

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey tells of a father who came to him saying, “I can’t understand my kid. He just won’t listen to me.” Covey patiently tried to get the dad to see the inconsistency of his statement. You don’t understand people by getting them to listen to you. You understand them when you listen to them.charlie brown listen

Is anyone listening?

It’s true that our high-tech, fast paced society today allots less time to listen to one another. Everyone is in a hurry, no one has time, but the need for communication and connection is more important than ever. Relationships at work and at home cannot thrive or survive without listening to one another. It’s imperative that we need to listen up!

Ever jump to understand a person’s disagreeing view? That’s not the first move of most people in conversation. People usually jump to judge, to argue, or to reject, to debate, but to understand? That’s in a minority of people.

listen1But we can change that. When we listen to another person, we can refuse to be distracted by our own opinions and biases. We can accept that listening to a differing view is not going to cause the veins in our foreheads to explode. It’s only fair that If we want our point to be understood, we need to practice understanding the point of others. We need to listen up!

listen

Listen to what people say, not to what we want to hear. Listen to their choice of words, not what we want them to say. Listen to their values, their complaints, their priorities, their outlook, and how they speak about other people, because that will reveal who that person is. So pay attention, put down any distractions, look at the person speaking, and listen up.

To avoid the impulse to finish the sentences of a person who speaks slower than we do is often a tussle. This is a test of our patience. And another impulse to avoid is planning what to say next when we should be listening. Also don’t interrupt the person talking, or take calls, or look at our phone (or TV), or wave to someone we know, or stare at the floor or out the window, all of which convey that the person talking is a bother to us, and not important.

Look at the person talking, without distraction. Practice listening with the intent to understand. This earns the respect of others.

Think about it.FullSizeRender (8)

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com unless otherwise indicated

Got complaints? – Dr. Sandy Nelson

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Malcolm S. Forbes says: The best vision is insight. However, a lot of people have placed their vision on sights outside of themselves—on other people and mostly on what other people are doing wrong.IMG_3247

We will not improve the world by lecturing other people how they should be better while ignoring the responsibility to better ourselves. Obtaining insight requires us to look within ourselves for those traits that hamper relationships, fuel resentments, and assist in our misery.

We will have better self-respect when we have a better self to respect. We will have better relationships when we have altered the parts of ourselves that pump doom into them. We will have a better planet when we take responsibility to correct the mind-set in our private world.

IMG_3277The transformation of your life begins with an examination of your thoughts. In Everyday Grace, Marianne Williamson writes: Our thoughts, not just our actions, create our experience. If you’re not happy and successful, investigate your thought content. Look for hidden complaints, resentments and grudges. When you stop railing against other people and stop blaming other people for your lack of prosperity, your mind and heart are then in a position to receive the happiness and success you desire. Instead of asking what’s in your wallet today, ask yourself what’s in your head.

Think about it.

 

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014 Dr. Sandy Nelson E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com unless otherwise indicated

The Key to Conversation – Dr. Sandy Nelson

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If I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. This principle is the key to effective interpersonal communication. –Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Stephen Covey tells a story of a father who came to him saying, “I can’t images (4)understand my kid. He just won’t listen to me.” Covey patiently tried to get the dad to see the inconsistency of his statement. You don’t understand people by getting them to listen to you. You understand them when you listen to them.

Ever jump to understand a person’s view that disagrees with yours?  The attempt to understand, or even listen, is not the first move of most people in conversation. People tend to jump to judge, to argue, to reject, to debate, but to understand? That’s in a minority of people.

images (66)But we can change that. and we need to. We can accept that listening to a differing view than ours is not going to cause the veins in our foreheads to explode. We can cool our jets of wanting to prove they’re wrong, and listen to others without creating a win-lose competition in conversation.

Listen up! If we want our point to be understood, it’s necessary to practice understanding the point of others. The basis of understanding and connecting with someone requires a lack of Drill-Sargent attitude and defensiveness. Sometimes we’re more interested in proving someone wrong than understanding a person’s opinions and beliefs. Instead of saying, “That’s not right,” it’s better to seek to understand and ask “Why do you think that?” This is the epitome of communicating with respect and unbiased mindfulness. Our relationships need this.

All advances to date in interests of humanity, medicine, and technology images (67)required open minds that sought to understand—that entertained differing views. But for some unfortunate people, most of their so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments to continue on believing as they already do. Their mind is closed. They have already judged their own opinion as being the only true and rational view and cling stubbornly to a mixture of unwarranted assumptions. This is fertile ground for intolerance to flourish.

Practice listening with the intention to understand, even if you disagree.

Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014 Dr. Sandy Nelson E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com