Suzanne Guldimann is the editor of the Topanga New Times, and also TNT’s resident naturalist. She was recently asked to give a talk on being…
We are living in interesting times. These past several years have been incredibly challenging tests for many, many people. So, first of all, please take a moment to just congratulate yourself for making it through everything you’ve gone through recently. You have been courageous, so please give yourself the compassion you likely give so many others. You deserve it too. Yup, I’m talking to you—the person reading this.
From my philosophical and psychological perspective, it is surely a time of great pressurization. Hopefully most of us will come out as diamonds. Let’s aim for that, okay? 😉
In the meantime, let’s learn how to be compassionate and kind diamonds-in-process that hold epic space for the other diamonds-in-process. Everyone needs more love and kindness and understanding right now.
One way to easily help others is to learn how to become a great listener. Here are some quick tips:
- Slow down—in every way. Just S L O W D O W N.
- Pause your own mental chatter and simply observe.
- If you care about someone, pay attention to their body language and their tone of voice. People often smile (because they think that’s the societally appropriate thing to do) when they’re actually really having a hard time.
- Create atmospheres of safety and “quality time.” Consciously creating more experiences of one-to-one conversations where people feel safe to express themselves can be one of the best gifts you can ever give anyone.
- Ask thoughtful questions and then shut up and actually listen to someone’s answers. Attentive Listening consists of simple skills like asking questions, repeating a statement you’ve heard them say and checking to make sure you’ve understood them correctly.
- Take that a step further, and do not interject your own opinion or story. Just allow them the space to share theirs. Give them the gift of this time for them without making any of it about you.
- Instead of giving them your (certainly brilliant) but unsolicited advice, ask them what they think is the best thing for them. This is so much more empowering for them than you telling them what to do. If you truly care, you’ll choose to empower them instead of letting your ego ramble on.
- Create purposeful pauses in conversations. This may initially feel awkward, but it’s almost always fruitful. The person sharing will usually end up filling the empty space with an important a-ha that they had not yet thought of.
- Here’s a hard one for most people—when the other person is talking, just really listen. Don’t think of the brilliant advice you’re going to give them. Don’t think of your own story that’s just like theirs but more dramatic that they absolutely must hear. Don’t make your weekly grocery list. Just quietly sit there and truly listen with all your heart. This may take some practice.
- While attentively listening, see them as courageous and capable. Most people can easily solve their own issues when they sense that someone else believes they’re strong and capable.
- Most importantly, while they are sharing and you are listening, look at them with so much love that their energy begins to elevate without them even realizing what’s going on.
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