When I'm working from my home office I find I do better work if I take short breaks throughout the day. Breaks that I enjoy the most are when I take time to
walk my dogs, Oscar and Walter, in my subdivision. (See cute puppy pics, below.)
I hate to admit this but, when we're walking, there's one neighbor I always hope to avoid.
Let's call her: Debbie Downer.
Recently, walking "my guys" and feeling very happy and in love with life. (I attribute much of my good mood to being consistent with my daily
Tune in Time (TNT),
even though I've been very busy.)
Tune In Time (TNT) is taking
a minimum of 15 minutes every day
to pause, reflect, plan and/or think.
Before I could dart the other way Debbie Downer saw me, came over to us and started to talk (complain) about her 'crazy mom schedule'. Only this time - I didn't feel frustrated with her. I found myself listening without feeling impatient and restless. I didn't try to mentally or physically run, and I didn't try to interrupt, redirect or change her.
I just stood there and listened.
When she finished her story, I did something I'd not done before:
I acknowledged her feelings and offered support
. I said something like,
"Wow, it sounds like you're overwhelmed. And it also sounds like YOU are a great mom. You're doing so many good things for
I think she was surprised. She gave me a soft pleasant smile. I noticed that her shoulders dropped and her rigid stance, relaxed. I probably imagined this - but, it seemed like she was breathing easier, too.
I said good bye and felt humbled. That short exchange, one of probably a hundred different interactions that day, stuck with me.
It reminded me of the power of really seeing, caring, hearing and tuning into another person
. Even though I focus on this in my coaching and I teach
skills to leaders, I was still blown away by the power of acknowledgement and support.
My Definition for Listening Aggressively:
A focus on hearing in a determined and
When you are doing this well, you demonstrate your
desire to understand by asking questions and listening with
NO agenda other than to understand.
Action Steps: Reflect, Probe, Support, Advise.
In a Wall Street Journal article,
Why You Should Never Tell Someone To Relax
, they share how to help people who are stressed out,
"It's a paradoxical fact: When someone is getting stressed out, one of the least effective (and perhaps most annoying) things to say is "Relax." The directive has exactly the opposite effect on most people."
"People who instruct a colleague, subordinate or loved one to relax may have good intentions. But it is usually better to resist ordering people to change their emotional state and try a different strategy. To help calm someone who is stressed, acknowledge his or her feelings first by saying, "Looks like you're having a tough day."
"Show empathy and ask open-ended questions such as "Tell me what's going on," to give the person a chance to talk about his or her feelings. Other research shows that trying to hide or suppress an emotion, called "emotion suppression," typically backfires. When people are told to hide how they feel and try to clamp down on the emotion, "it actually leaks out more."
Do you have Debbie (or David) Downer in your life?
Someone you want to mentally or physically run from every time you see them? The Gallup Organization shares that 7 out of 10 employees do not feel appreciated and are dis-engaged.
What would happen if you gave the gift of listening (a form of appreciation) to help everyone (including David/Debbie Downer) be more effective?
Be a great leader, coach or neighbor - get tuned up (take
Tune in Time
, 15 minutes a day = 91+ hours in a year) and
|Oscar 13 years old