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.

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.

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.

Back to the way things were

Around 18 months ago, the idea of working from home full-time was not an option for many people. However, last year it became our reality. Suddenly we had to adjust to new ways of working. We had to make space at home to work in the same way or as close to how we would in the office.

The world didn’t stop, we showed that it could in fact be done. But it happened because we were forced to rather than companies allowing it or wanting it to happen.

And now, as we get closer to getting ‘back to normal’, a lot of companies want the traditional ways of the 9-5 to return. However, many employees have adjusted to the new way of life and don’t want to go back.

They now save time and money spent on their journeys into work, are less likely to buy lunch, have more flexibility over how they spend their day and more.

For others, working from home may have brought less routine, more distractions, less productivity and a loss of culture/community.

I don’t think it’s a case of picking working from home or from the office but instead acknowledging that both options can work well and then finding a new way.

We don’t need to just go back to the way things were but we don’t need to totally abandon the office.

Maybe you should quit

If you had to choose between pushing on with something in the hopes that it will work out or choosing to quit and starting over, which would you choose?

We’re regularly encouraged to keep going, to try and try and again but what if things just aren’t working out.

Often, the reason we choose to carry on is because we’ve invested time and money and we aren’t willing to accept that our idea won’t be a success. Even when we are aware that our continued efforts will be fruitless, it somehow feels easier to continue down what is likely to be a dead end.

Of course, in time perhaps things will be a success, but maybe we’d actually just be better off quitting and trying something else.

Words unspoken

Just because something is on your mind, doesnt mean it needs to be said.

It might seem like a radical concept but not everything needs to be shared.

That idea might seem so far from where we’re currently at because when it comes to social media it often seems that we should push the boundaries and share more.