How to be a better listener

Don’t offer advice
Don’t offer advice until the person asks for it. People often make the assumption that when someone is talking about an issue they want to be told what to do. However, many times a person just wants to express themselves and feel heard.

Show that your engaged verbally
Muttering a generic hmmm, every now and then is sometimes what is done to portray a false sense of engagement but often the case is you’re probably just not interested. The ‘hmmm’ can also be a sign that you want to let them know you’re listening. You can also use short phrases like ‘I can’t imagine what that’s been like’ or ‘that must be difficult’ to show you’re engaged or you could ask questions.

Show that you’re engaged physically
Looking at your phone, being turned away from the person and not making eye contact can show a lack of interest. Don’t be distracted, have your body facing them and make eye contact.

Lastly, two things to remember, if you don’t want to listen then just say so instead of doing it half heartedly. Secondly, you can’t expect someone will want to come and talk to you if you don’t show that you’re interested in what they have to say.

You don’t get paid to pave the way

The idea of paving the way is quite interesting and also amazing.

However, one thing that I’ve noticed is often the trailblazers do not receive as much financially in comparison to those that come after. I think in some ways that is one of the reasons that people are afraid to go first.

Paving the way is almost always difficult and comes with many challenges. It’s much easier to simply wait for someone else and then jump on the band wagon.

If you decide to carve out a new path, you do that with the knowledge that as much as you may gain success and be known for the work you’ve done, it’s the ones that follow that often end up getting paid more, even though you’ve worked so much harder.

In order to pave the way, you don’t need to be the best or the most talented. But you do need to have passion, commitment and dedication. You need to be able to create and hold a vision for long enough for it to come to life. You have to have the resilence to keep going even when you experience knock backs.

After doing all of that work, it can be difficult to then hold the door open for others, that’s why trailblazing and pioneering might be considered to be for the selfless. However, holding the door open for others is not a requirement, it’s a choice. Some people decide not to do it because they don’t want others to have it any easier than they did, whilst others do it gladly.

Some focus on they themselves ‘winning’ (as in earning the most money) whilst others will just ensure they get what they need to be comfortable. For some it is about being known and revered for what they have done whilst for others it is about doing the work to make a change.


Age and experience

If you find yourself taking on the role of ‘the person that knows best’, you might find yourself getting carried away. Often it is age and experience that deems a person eligible to claim to know best but those things aren’t always determining factors.

A person might be older but perhaps their experience isn’t applicable to the present day. A person may have experience but perhaps the lessons they had to learn or challenges they had to overcome won’t apply to the person they are trying to pass it on to.

I think as much as it’s great to be willing to share knowledge and information, it’s also good to be willing to listen. Your decades of experience don’t give you a pass to dismiss or diminish those that are younger or less experienced. Despite all that you might know there will always be more to learn or understand and perhaps that will come from someone unexpected, someone younger or someone with less experience.

Holding out for the good bit

If you’re not willing to be patient you might find yourself missing out.

So often we want everything now and the idea of having to wait makes us anxious.

But remember that life is often like the quote, good things come to those who wait.

It’s not about making time for struggle or enduring something unpleasant hoping good will happen before you reach breaking point.

It’s about learning to be patient and not giving up just because things don’t happen straight away.

Actions and feelings

Often we hesiste to take action because we’re waiting on a feeling.

For example, you hesitate to lead, speak up or contribute because you’re waiting on confidence.

And so, you wait and put things off hoping that in time the confidence will come. But the confidence may never come. You don’t become more confident by holding back and shying away, it’s something that comes with practice.

So, instead of waiting on a feeling to take action, take action first and allow the feeling to follow.

Good and bad writing days

The writing process is just a stream of thought that I lock into for long enough to pour out a hundred words or so.

Gemm 2019

On a good day the words just flow, I don’t have to try and I don’t have to sit and hope that something interesting comes to mind.

But on other days it’s a little more challenging.

It feels like there is a blockage or resistance, the words come to me with much less ease. It’s not about self-expression or inspiration, it’s about getting it done.

I’ve taught myself to write on both days. It’s become less about good and bad writing days (and potentially giving in to writers block), instead it’s about accepting that some writing days will be easier than others.

Avoidance

Avoidance is temporary.

You might feel like you’ve managed to escape when you put it off for another day. However, that’s not quite how it works, it hasn’t gone away.

What you don’t do today will still be there tomorrow. It’ll be there until you decided to face it, or it faces you.

And so you’d be much better off preparing yourself as best as you can instead of putting it off.

How it started

In September 2019, I made a list of 12 things I needed to do before I was ready to launch my daily blog.

Some of them were things I had to do like pick a name and decided whether to have the option of likes and comments. Others were things to think about, like deciding whether to have social media for the blog and what the Instagram feed would include.

I didn’t complete all twelve things before I began but things still turned out pretty good.

Looking back over the list serves as a useful reminder. You don’t need to do as much as you think you need before you get started.

So often, we end up using not being ready or not prepared enough as an excuse to not begin which comes from a place of fear, it’s rarely because we actually need more time.

A chance of regression

When you’re on a particular journey moving from an old way to something new, there is always a chance of regression. And sometimes we almost allow it to happen unnessicarily because we tell oursleves that it’s just part of the process wheb really, it doesnt have to be.

It’s possible to keep going without falling back into old ways.

When you’re on the new path and you haven’t seen the effects of your change, you may find yourself wondering if it’s worth it. That is often when you regress and turn to the habits of your old self that are no longer helpful.

Two things to keep in mind are why you decided to make the change to begin with and the benefits of sticking with it, even if they take some time.

Uncertainty is inevitable

We often make the mistake of thinking that the best way to deal with uncertainty is to remove it from our lives.

It makes sense because without all these unknowns there is less risk and you will feel safer.

But the problem with this approach is that you can’t control everything. Uncertainty will always be a part of life.

However, just because you can’t control it doesn’t mean you should let it control you. Think of the uncertainty like a wave in the ocean. There are small waves, little uncertainties like whether the bus will be on time. Then, there are the big waves, the major uncertainties like whether you’ll be made redundant or how long the pandemic will last.

The small waves can be annoying or frustrating but they pass with ease. The big waves on the other hand they have the power to totally consume us. And so we have to embrace the uncertainty and or else you’ll get caught in the wave and wipe out.