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greg dahlen

Alumnus, academy of achievement


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how to be a good listener?

I often read that it's very important to be a good listener. Any tips you have for how to be one?

If someone were a bad listener, could they still have a good life?


Closing Statement from greg dahlen

well, I believe the most helpful thing I learned is that one of my biggest impediments to listening well is having worries on my mind that I'm trying to solve whilst also trying to listen to another person talk about entirely different subjects. Thus I need to find a way to deal with these worries, and when I have, I am a better listener.

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    Nov 11 2013: It's dizzy to see my comments among the former ones, so please let me move it to here.
    " well, let's say he prefers to talk rather than listen, when he listens to someone else sometimes his mind drifts... "

    If this kind of person lacks super talents to be insightful to make people respect them, they'll probably fail in their life becasue they can't get enough firsthand or important information from people and do more necessary thinking. People usually regard these kind of people rude and stupid, which may cause people to stay away from these bad listeners.
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      Nov 11 2013: Another good point Yoka,
      When we are not listening to the best of our ability, we actually deny ourselves the opportunity to get more information. That is one reason I like being fully present and engaged in the moment.....I don't like to deny myself information:>)
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        Nov 11 2013: and how do you put your worries aside to just listen, colleen? Or what happens if you think of something you want to say to the other person, but you don't want to interrupt while they're talking, but you also don't want to forget what you want to say?

        You know, another interesting question is, how does one think on one's feet? For instance I sometimes call in and talk on talk radio shows, but sometimes I get stymied in the conversation, the host says something and I can't think of a snappy reply. Then, after we hang up, I think, "Oh, I should have said that."
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          Nov 18 2013: Greg,
          "How do I put my worries aside...?"

          I don't worry, because I have no desire to do that to myself.

          Worry..." to subject to persistent or nagging attention or effort; to afflict with mental distress or agitation; anxiety; torment".

          Worrying generally takes us round and round in circles (persistent nagging, mental distress, agitation, anxiety, etc.)

          I think, feel, ponder, evaluate information, consider, seek resolutions, etc., on many different levels....no worry.

          That being said, we can give ourselves the time to think, feel, ponder, etc., when we choose. For example, when I was performing, there were times that something challenging was going on in my personal life, and that evening, I was playing the role on stage of a happy go lucky person. While in the role, I put the challenging thoughts/feelings aside (sometimes I actually said to myself.....self......we will deal with that later), and proceeded to play the happy person. The opposite was true as well. At another time I dealt with the challenge.

          "What happens if you think of something you want to say....don't want to interrupt....don't want to forget?"

          Sometimes, if a person is going on and on, I might say....excuse me....could I just ask a question? When we are thinking of something we want to say, we are not really listening. I find that most conversations flow, when we give ourselves and the other person that opportunity. If a thought passes through my mind, and I don't have the opportunity to express it, I believe it probably didn't need to be expressed. I prefer to listen well, rather than try to formulate my next comment. I think that is a major challenge with listening/not listening.....people are often already thinking about what they are going to say next.....let it go and listen:>)

          "How does one think on one's feet"?
          Personally, I just let the conversation flow. Perhaps in your quest to have a "snappy reply", you are not really listening to the other person?
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        Nov 12 2013: Thank you Colleen,again.
        I think I always see your great patience in listening and talking to people here.
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          Nov 12 2013: Thank you so much Yoka, and I see that in you as well my friend. It is much more enjoyable than the alternative:>)
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        Nov 18 2013: thanks for the long set of ideas, very interesting about the theater and dealing with worries.

        Yes, I believe I'll try to relax and not worry if I recall the point I had wanted to make.

        Colleen, one interesting thing, I decided for me it might be better to express my worries to the other person, and then, having "cleared my mind," I could listen better. It can be hard, because sometimes you think others don't want to hear your worries. But I found I only took five minutes to share one worry with one person, and it has really cleared my mind, I have been listening better for the last two or three weeks to everybody.
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          Nov 19 2013: You are welcome Greg:>)

          Clearing the mind can be beneficial, and it's also important to intuit if the information you are clearing from your mind is something the other person actually wants to hear. Some folks sometimes "vent" (clear their mind), are not aware of the effect it might have on the other person, and I do not perceive that to be beneficial. Does the other person really want to have that information? We can usually sense that by being aware of facial expressions, body language, etc.

          When we are listening with all the senses, and are fully engaged in the conversation at the moment, it seems like the conversation flows. I tend to "feel" the conversation rather than "think" about it as it is flowing. Thinking about it, and analyzing it as it is happening interferes with the flow for me.
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        Nov 19 2013: right, colleen, in this case the person did not initially want to hear it, but as I talked on they calmed down and were okay with it. I would say that there are times in life you have to talk about unpleasant things and you have to make a judgement as to what the rewards will be versus the detriments. In this case, by talking about this one unpleasant thing for five minutes, I was able to clear my head, and then I could listen much better to this other person for the next half hour. So I would say it was worth it, the other person got a reward in that I could listen to them better. But yes, there would be times, and people, not to expose your worries. A lot of it might be how you talk about it, if you can talk about it intelligently and crisply, the other person might tolerate it better. If I talk about my worries and the other person starts saying things back to me, I try to ask questions about what they're saying to understand better, that way it's not just me giving a monologue.
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          Nov 19 2013: I wholeheartedly support talking about challenges Greg, and it is important for me to intuit what information to give to what people. I personally would not feel comfortable if a person was simply "tolerating" me, or the information I was providing.
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        Nov 19 2013: well, not sure how you mean "tolerating" here, Colleen, merely not protesting, or actually listening carefully? I do think there are ways to "sweeten" talking about challenges, listening carefully to the other person's feedback, asking questions about what they're saying, etc. I would still say one has to make a rewards-consequences decision, how much pain in talking about challenges versus how much reward?
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          Nov 19 2013: You used the word "tolerate" Greg, (" if you can talk about it intelligently and crisply, the other person might tolerate it better"), and I use it based on the accepted definition...

          Perhaps one does indeed make a rewards-consequences decision.....based on the feelings and preference of BOTH people in the interaction.
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        Nov 19 2013: well, I think when you listen to someone talk about their challenges, you would have many different feelings, one might be some pain, perhaps you empathize with them and thus feel the pain of their situation yourself, or you imagine yourself being in their situation and it's painful, or other reasons for pain. And I'm thinking the person telling their worries could find some ways to make the conversation more palatable so that in spite of the pain, the conversation is at least somewhat engaging, or seems to be moving forward and helping, or other positive outcomes. But I don't know if person B is going to kick up their heels with joy that person A is telling them his problems, although sometimes that might happen.

        Well, the way I approached is is to make a unilateral decision that although it might be painful to the other person to hear my challenges, it might help me listen better to the other person about other topics if I could "clear" the one worry on my mind. And it seems to me it worked out that way. But I suppose I could say to the person, "Look, I would like to have a happy conversation with you about our lives, but I do have this one worry I have to get off my chest, is that okay?"

        What attitude would you like someone to have who is listening to your challenges, Colleen?
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          Nov 20 2013: I agree Greg.....when we are truly listening, we may experience feelings, and I am honored when people share thoughts and feelings with me, because to me, it demonstrates trust. I feel grateful when people are genuinely listening to me, because in my perception and experience it builds trust, and it demonstrates a willingness to open the heart and mind to each other.
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        Nov 21 2013: well, my situation might be a little difficult, colleen, because the person I feel most comfortable sharing my challenges with, my mom, is often not that thrilled to hear about them. I generally feel comfortable talking to my mom (I imagine many people do), and she knows me quite well, knows my history, knows the background of some of my challenges that have lasted a long time, so in that sense it's good. But she's also a person who tends to downplay a person's challenges, or even tell them they're all in their head, so it's difficult in that sense.

        I remember when I was a kid, I went through a year where I was very afraid of being kidnapped. We walked close to two miles each way to school, and I was very scared on those walks, very fearful of passing cars that one would stop and the driver would try to kidnap me. I should have told someone, one of my parents, but my dad was always working, and my mom I was afraid would downplay my fears. So I just suffered. Eventually the fear passed.
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          Nov 21 2013: I am sorry that your situation is difficult Greg, also sorry for your experience as a child, and glad you were able to move through that challenging fear.

          That is why I think/feel genuinely listening is SO important. Genuinely hearing people, being open to them, and reaching out to them is as important as being able to trust a person we choose to share information with. The practice of listening is especially important when children are exploring the life experience. Listening, or not listening, has the potential to influence a kids entire life.
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        Nov 21 2013: thanks much for your great ideas. Love the idea of listening to children, also, how to help children listen? Convo closes in six minutes.

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