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Two kinds of lies (DW#292)

Uncategorized Dec 05, 2017

A lie is any statement, spoken or written, that is intended to deceive or withhold information from another.

Lies of commission: A lie of commission happens when we say something that is not a fact or simply not true. It is when we are twisting the truth to create a (usually more favorable) version of something that happened.

Suppose it was raining outside and you asked me about the weather in Toronto as you were packing to arrive here. "It is bright and sunny right now", I say. You would now be making a decision to dress for sunny weather based on the wrong information you were given.

The fact that it was raining is an objective fact which can be seen and experienced by anyone who is present. It is also easy to verify it after the fact by simply checking the weather channel.

Lies of omission: Lies of omission occur when we intentionally leave out an important fact to foster a misrepresentation. These are also known as continuing misrepresentations.

Lies of omission also happen when...

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Two kinds of truth (DW#291)

Last week we started the conversation about the foundational principle of mindful speech: speaking the truth.

There are two kinds of truth to aim for:

The objective truth: that is what happened or did not happen. This kind of truth is that which is objectively verifiable, quantifiable and measurable, and not influenced by emotions, opinions or personal feelings.

These are the kinds of things that plaintiffs and witnesses (and family members!) are cross-examined on:

Where were you?
Who were you with?
Who else was there?
How did the car get dented?
Who ate the last cookie? ;)

The other kind of truth is subjective truth: speaking about that which is based on our own internal experience, emotions or opinions.

Speaking the truth about what is true for us (with grace and compassion) is the doorway to intimacy as it invites another person to share our experience and internal world. It is about speaking what is in our hearts.

Some examples of invitations to share our objective truth are:

How do...

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Speak the truth (DW#290)

The first foundation for mindful speech is to tell the truth. Speaking the truth is crucial for our relationship with ourselves, with God and with other people.

Our relationship with ourselves: Telling the truth allows us to live in alignment with our conscience which is ultimately what self esteem is based on. To put it another way, self esteem and self respect grows from living according to our values.

Our relationship with God: Not telling the truth impacts our relationship with God because our guilty conscience erects a barrier between the All Truthful and ourselves. Since He knows the truth and the lies that we speak, we feel ashamed to present ourselves in His presence.

Our relationship with others: Telling the truth is the basis of trust and credibility of our relationship with others. When we can trust another to be truthful, we can lay our guard down, relax and become intimate with another. On the other hand, a lack of trust keeps us anxious, vigilant and on guard –...

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Wise speech (DW#289)

We’ve all done it. Regretted saying something the moment it came out. We may have said it too harshly, or in a state of anger or not having paused to consider whether it was a good time.

Although we may apologize profusely (that is if we have the slightest desire to maintain the relationship), we get the sinking feeling that the hurt caused is deep and that healing it will take time.

Can we prevent such slips of the tongue which cause such damage to our relationships?

Maybe not entirely but we can certainly make progress towards minding our words if we THINK before we speak.

Here are some time-honored questions to consider in the pause before we speak:
Is what I am about to say:

T – True?
H – Helpful to the other person? To our relationship? To getting my
       message across?
I – Inspiring rather than discouraging?
N – Necessary? Is it necessary at this time?
K – Kind? Am I saying it in a way that is kind and respectful rather...

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A good Word (DW#288)

As we continue our series on mindful communication, let’s now talk about speaking.

The words that we speak are very powerful. They have the power to heal and they have the power to hurt.

The impact of words goes far beyond our immediate perception.

In verses 24 and 25 of Chapter 14 (The Chapter of Abraham), the Quran teaches us that a good word is like a good tree, whose root is firm and whose branches are in heaven. This tree, the Quran goes on, yields fruit in every season and that these are lessons for people who are mindful.

Scholars of scripture explain that among other meanings, this verse may also refer to the power of words spoken by us which are beneficial and helpful to others. The benefit of such words extends far beyond the immediate conversation and continues to benefit others and ourselves as they are reflected upon, shared and acted upon.

A pretty strong motivation to speak that which is useful, wouldn’t you say?

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Listening well is not about techniques (DW#287)

As we wrap up our discussion on mindful listening, let’s remind ourselves of the key messages on listening well.

Really listening to another requires our attention and putting aside our own agenda for the moment.

It is not about agreeing, disagreeing or giving advice. These may or may not be needed but the first step in any case is to understand the speaker.

Only after we have conveyed our understanding to the speaker, and they know that we "get" what they are trying to say will they be ready to listen to our point of view or advice.

True listening then, is not about techniques or demonstrating that we know the skills of "active listening". It is about the intention to pay attention to, and understand, the other person’s model of the world.

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Convey your understanding (DW#286)

As we have been discussing, it is challenging to listen to understand, especially in close relationships.

So given all the challenges, how do you know if you have actually understood what your loved one is trying to tell you?

Here's how to check your understanding:

First, you need to repeat back what you have understood. This can be as simple as repeating the exact words they have said, or by paraphrasing their words.

And then checking in with them:

Did I get that right?
Is there more?
Is that what you mean?
Let me see if I have understood you . . .

While you are checking in with them, you do need to make sure that your tone of voice and your body language convey humility and the intention to understand.

You will know if you have understood if they tell you that you got it!

Or if they let out a sigh of relief

Or if they spontaneously hug you . . .

Yes, listening to understand is challenging and no, it does not come naturally.

And it gets much easier with practice.

The increased...

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Please listen!

Many therapists would go out of business if we listened with compassion and without judgement to our loved ones.

Here is a poem that conveys it rather eloquently.

Please Listen

When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving advice,
you have not done what I asked
nor heard what I need.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why I shouldn't feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something to solve my problems,
you have failed me -- strange as that may seem.

Listen, please!
All I asked was that you listen.
Not talk nor "do"—just hear me.

Advice is cheap.

A quarter gets both "Dear Abby" and astrological forecasts
in the same newspaper.

That I can do for myself. I'm not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering -- but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself,
you contribute to me seeming fearful and weak.

But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I...

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Hold the advice!

 

Have you ever been to a doctor and found them writing a prescription before you'd finished saying what was wrong?

Have you ever told a friend (or a parent or a spouse!) about a problem and been told what to do about it before you had even finished telling them what the real issue was?

Have you ever had to grit your teeth while someone advised you to do things you had already tried because they didn't bother to ask what you'd already done?

It is a common experience to have people prescribing solutions before they have understood the problem, isn't it?

This is because we often don't get a key distinction in communication.

Listening and giving advice.

I know, I know. We spoke about this just last week. But it is just so important, that it is worth repeating.

Listening helps others to tell their stories. It requires putting our own agenda (and even our own expertise) on hold and simply "becoming a vessel into which others can pour their worries, their passions, their joys, their...

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The difference between listening and agreeing.

In my experience, one of the things that stops us from truly listening to the other is the fear that listening might indicate that we agree with what they are saying.

What if we don't agree? Should we not start making our case right from the first sentence? Does silence not mean assent?

Not so. Just hear me out. :)

Listening to, and agreeing with, are two different communication processes. And in between the two lies a third one – understanding.

When someone is sharing their experience, their feelings or their thoughts, there is really nothing to agree to or disagree with. The experience, the feelings and the thoughts belong to the person who is having and sharing them. Our role is simply to hear them out and to understand them (if we wish to be connected to them, that is).

For statements or conversations that do require agreement or disagreement (such as making plans or finding a solution to a problem) understanding the conversation before we agree or disagree with it is...

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