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With all due respect (DW#425)

Almost always coupled with an insult or unsolicited advice, the phrase "with all due respect" is often used as way to say: "Prepare to be disrespected." "I’m going to say something now that will most likely offend you but since I have said "with all due respect" you cannot really complain".

Many people find this phrase so annoying that it regularly shows up on the lists of most disliked phrases.

So the next time you are going to disagree with someone or present your opinion which might be controversial or unpopular, start by acknowledging what others are saying and make sure you understand the various aspects of the discussion. You can then state your opinion in a respectful way without using the phrase "with all due respect".

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Think loving thoughts (DW#346)

Today’s OTL can be done all on your own.

The practice is to intentionally think positive thoughts about your loved one when they are not present with you.

It is clear that how and what we think about has an impact on our relationships because it ends up influencing the way we act and the way we talk to them.

When we intentionally bring to mind something we like about our loved ones, some kindness or love that they have shown us or some pleasant interaction that we may have had in the past, it allows our heart to soften and we can act in loving ways when we do see them.
So go ahead. Set a reminder if you have to.

Think loving thoughts and hold the thoughts for at least 15 seconds. (This is the time it takes for a thought to begin to change our brain chemistry)

Soften and allow yourself to smile at the memory or the thought.
Repeat often for best results :)

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The eyes are the gateway to the heart (DW#343)

When was the last time you looked your spouse in the eye?

When we are first courting, we may spend a long time lovingly gazing into each other’s eyes but this becomes a rarity in long term committed relationships.

Yet scientists believe that eye contact may well be the most potent trigger for connection and oneness. Although hearing someone’s voice such as over a telephone, may sometimes create a micro-moment of connection, physical presence is generally essential for bonding and attachment.

A meeting of the eyes then, is a key gateway to neural synchrony. When you look another person in the eye, your brains activity synchronizes and in some ways, the two brains start behaving as one.

So for today’s OTL challenge, find an opportunity to look your spouse in the eye. It can feel weird and vulnerable at first, especially if you have not done this in a while.

Please don’t let it stop you.

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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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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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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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Why listening well is SO challenging

Listening well, as we began saying last week, is arguably one of the most challenging skills in communications. AND it is absolutely critical to building meaningful connections with others.

Let us try and understand some solid reasons why it is so challenging so that we can move beyond the challenges.

Firstly, a study at Princeton University found that there is a lag between what you hear and what you understand. Depending upon the individual, it could be between a few seconds to up to a minute.

This is where the trouble starts.

During that lag-time, we start to listen to ourselves and not to the other person. Have you noticed how you start having a conversation while another person is speaking? Making judgments and assumptions about they are saying and about to say?

While this is happening, of course our understanding of what the other is saying has plummeted.

What causes the lag time between hearing and understanding? Filters such as our physical and emotional state or external...

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Live in a bubble

There are times when we know we are heading towards a situation which will test our emotional balance. We have been in this situation many times before and we often end up getting hooked and triggered in ways which are the opposite of mindful.

When we are knowingly heading towards a situation like that, it is time to conjure up a protective bubble around ourselves.

Here's how: Take a few moments before you are entering this situation and imagine energy circling around you and creating a transparent, protective bubble. The bubble is thick and protective (verbal bullet-proof!) but completely transparent so only you know that you are inside it.

Allow yourself to enhance the protective qualities of the bubble by endowing it with all the positive energies you desire while deflecting negative energies and comments so that they cannot impact you or touch you.

Feel free to watch with amusement as the negative comments and energies bounce back without impacting you or disturbing your...

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Be like Teflon

Let's continue our discussion on developing and practicing equanimity as a path to mindful communication.

Equanimity, as we have discussed, is the ability to remain calm even in difficult situations and not get triggered in response to what others say or do.

Today's practice is about being like Teflon.

Teflon, as you may know, is used as a non-reactive, non-stick coating for pans and other cookware. The primary characteristic of Teflon is that it does not react with the chemicals in food and also allows foods not to stick and instead slide right off the pan.

So what is a Teflon Mindset? To have a Teflon Mindset is developing the ability to allow experiences, feelings, and thoughts come into your mind and slip right out without reacting to them.

If you run into someone else's bad day, for example, you do not have to engage with them and get hooked into an argument. If they say something which is baiting you to engage into a verbal battle, how about practicing being like Teflon?

Let...

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