The Art of Living Attuned

How Not to Have an Engaging Conversation

This clip of two robots interacting with each other is both hilarious and disturbing. Hilarious because what they are saying is “not computing”, disturbing because it is not that far from how a lot of our conversations go. We either don’t listen, or we interpret what we hear through our own filters, even when the speaker reflects back that they have been misheard.

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I love the video because it stimulates so many avenues of thought to explore. Here are just a few:

  • What about human conversation, high quality human conversation – is different from this one?
  • What gift does conversation hold for us?
  • What if your life depended on completely understanding the next thing someone said to you? Would you listen differently? What would you bring to the listening besides your ears?

Good to ponder:

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia


The Power of Vulnerability

We don’t like it. Feeling vulnerable. Our brains are absolutely convinced of this fact. Convinced – and they’ll remind us at every opportunity.

Be cool, maintain the illusion, don’t risk. It’s an ongoing mantra.

And yet I keep seeing in the world that when given the opportunity – if the environment feels welcoming, if the natives seem friendly – people are dying to share their fears and hopes and dreams with each other. We are longing to truly be seen and accepted for exactly who we are in any given moment.

When we share our truest selves, we touch the truest self of those we share with. And we offer them the opportunity to be seen in return.

If you haven’t found her yourself yet, I’d love to introduce you to one of my all time favorite speakers, Brene Brown. She’s done a whole lot of research on how our unwillingness to be vulnerable causes us to close off huge sections of our lives to avoid pain. Here’s the catch: we can’t numb selectively, so we isolate ourselves from joy in the process. Her talk is 20 minutes long and well worth making time for:

Good to ponder:

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” – Ambrose Redmoon

butterfly photo credit: Amanda Rhodes


3 Ways to Improve the Quality of Your Listening

How well do you listen?

How much space and presence to you bring to your listening? We may tell ourselves that people don’t really notice if our listening is a high quality one – but let’s check it out. Do you notice when you’re being listened to? My guess is you are absolutely clear when someone is fully with you, and when they’re even slightly checked out. We may dismiss it, but it matters.

Almost everyone I know realizes that there is room for improvement in their listening skills. Having the intention is half the battle, but some key pointers can help bring power to your intention.

Bring Yourself Fully to the Listening:

When someone is speaking to you, make a decision to be there with them. Not thinking about what you forgot to do that morning, some unresolved issue that is unrelated to this person or moment in time, what you’re going to make for dinner, where you’re going on holidays next summer, something across the room that’s catching your attention. And do I even need to say cell phone? Be here. Now.

Clear Your Mind and Get Curious:

Even when we’re fully present, we’re often busy formulating opinions, assessing whether the speaker’s thoughts are aligned with or contrary to ours, planning a response, likening it to our own experience. When we do this, the focus is still on us, not the other person. Instead, bring an open-hearted curiosity to who this person is, and what it is that they’re really saying – instead of your idea about it.

Be Spacious in Your Listening:

One of the best things I learned in my coach training was to ‘leave one moment longer’ before responding. When you have asked a thought provoking question, or someone has said something that feels important, instead of rushing in to fill the space – hold it in silence a loving heartbeat or two longer.  That space is where the speaker understands they are truly being listened to. It’s a precious gift that we have the opportunity to give everyday in our lives.

Here’s a little challenge: Bring this kind of listening to 3 conversations in your life in the next week, and notice what happens. If you want to share any glimmers of insight from the experience, please leave a comment back here.

Good to ponder:

“Most people do not listen with the intent to learn and understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak.” – Stephen Covey


Love This!

Found on FB – had to share.

Good to ponder:

“Set your sights high, the higher the better. Expect the most wonderful things to happen, not in the future, but right now. Realize that nothing is too good. Allow nothing to hamper you or hold you up in any way.” – Eileen Caddy


The Pitfalls and Rewards of Selective Attention

Okay – before you read on – watch this vid:

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Seriously, watch the video first. It’ll be more fun that way…

Did you see it?

Bravo if you did. Not only did I not see the gorilla, I went right back to the start of the video to make sure it wasn’t a trick  (like – they put the gorilla in the second piece of footage.) That’s how much I didn’t see him stop right there in the middle of the group and pound his hairy little chest.

And this is how the whole of our lives work. If we are intently focused on anything, it really is all we can see. Focused on failure? fear? lack? anger? limitation? The list goes on and on. Our lives are comprised of our perceptions, and what we perceive is what we’re focusing on.

Of course there’s joy, gratitude, abundance, love, compassion, possibility, courage! There’s no shortage of fabulous perspectives to stand in – and we get to pick.

What we focus on expands, and if we take our attention off all of those negative saboteur voices and ideas that just love to run our lives, we begin to lose sight of them, and their grip on us loosens. The trick is not to eradicate them from our lives, it is simply to turn our focus away, and toward what it is that we really want. And then go get it!

Good to ponder:

“Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but usually manages to pick himself up, walk over or around it, and carry on.” – Winston Churchill


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