Tag Archives: listening

Confessions of an Introvert

15 Jul

At a recent networking event, I was rounding the outskirts of the crowd, seeking safety and the lone networker to chat with.  Standing off to the side, a woman held out her hand as I passed.  ‘Hi, I’m ‘Y”.

We shared our ‘how do you/what do you do’s’.  At this crowdfunding gathering, she was seeking funding for her clothing line for women with curves.   She had all the qualities of a fashion designer:  savvy, attractive, and outgoing.  And she couldn’t wait to get out of ‘here’.  Not because she didn’t want funding or believe in her project.  Networking and the brouhaha of it all was ‘too much’.  ‘Y’ is an introvert.

Compacting meaningful conversation to forge a connection is an introvert talent.  But what does this really mean?  With the caveat that not all introverts are created equal, I think it’s time to shed light on the wonderful and often misunderstood inner light of an introvert.

We can be charming, fun, vivacious, sparkly.  Don’t be fooled by this one facet of our personality.   Introverts are not necessarily wall flowers, shy, or anti-social.  It’s far more complicated.

Our mantra:  “When the going gets tough, the tough go to bed.”  Personally, I live by this Barbara Sher quote.   I’m very outgoing and love being out and about.  But when I need to recharge to be my best me – my most authentic me – I unplug and pull the covers over my head.   For minutes, hours, days….  it all depends.  ‘Y’ confessed she spent the 4 day July 4th weekend at home.  When friends told her she had to go out and do stuff, she shrugged:  ‘why?’  She had a happy weekend – alone.

http-www.nickpierno.com

http-www.nickpierno.com

Small talk is like junk food.  It’s great every once in a while.   Tasty.  But only in small quantities.  Babble is empty calories.  Too much leads to weighing us down and making us sluggish.   After an hour or so, talk should move on to something substantive whether it has to do with life experiences, personal thoughts vs. actions.  As ‘Y’ shared, our conversation became real and relaxing when she could share thoughts about how and why she spent July 4th.

theintrovertentrepreneur.com

theintrovertentrepreneur.com

Social media is a bore.  We have no need to talk about ourselves.  No need to share every action and thought in a public, impersonal way.  Why?  If you have something you want to share – text.  It’s more personal.

We do not rant and rave.  Ideas and emotions can be jumbled in our head.  Talking about them in the heat of the moment means we say things we don’t mean which we’ll replay in our heads over and over.  And by the time we’ve sorted them through, well, we have no need to talk about them.

Which means, it can take us days to get back to you about something said or that thorn that got stuck in our side.  We need time.  To think.

We are great company to ourselves; never (or rarely) lonely alone.

If we are out and about and having a great time, it is still exhausting.  If we are not having a great time, it is exhausting, draining, and, lonely.

A seemingly invigorating social event will not ‘pump us up’ if we are emotionally drained.  Especially if there is no meaningful, personal, one-on-one connection/conversation.

infjdoodles-tumblr (for all you Myers-Briggs folks)

infjdoodles-tumblr (for all you Myers-Briggs folks)

I can write this post as ‘we’ because it doesn’t need to be all about me.

We are great listeners.  As one introvert once told me, extroverts see themselves as the center of the universe, introverts are happy to be on the outside.  But just because we will listen and not make everything about us doesn’t mean we have nothing to say.

We won’t talk just to talk.  We won’t talk unless someone is listening.

We may share intimate details of our life, but if you never respond or follow-up, chances are we won’t do it again.  Or maybe we will because we love you.  But it saps our energy.  It’s not connection.

Okay, I’ve said enough.  Time for this introvert to go back to bed.

Advertisements

The Coach is IN (the cafe): 12 tips to: ‘Should I stay or should I go?’

18 Jun

Should I stay or should I go?

aka

Do we marry or is to time to find my true love?

two dinosaurs 'in love'

This was K’s question as we squeezed a chat in between her travels in and out of NYC.   K’s destination:  her relationship’s future with her life-long boyfriend.   I asked about a rumor I’d heard from a man she thought was ‘perfect’ for me: ‘K’ and her boyfriend ‘B’ were engaged!   (He wasn’t perfect – at least for me, and as for them, well read on)

‘K’ and I met during my travels and have occasionally met up over the last few years.  We have an interesting connection, likely due to a shared passion, the focus of her work venture.   With enviable energy and resolve she is pulling people together and ‘broadcasting’ their voices.  She’s young:  mid-twenties and been with “B’ for over ten years.  Romance and problems merge into the expectation they will be together forever.   ‘B’ and ‘K’ have been traveling for the last few weeks – half the time with her colleagues.

First,  how can this single soul  talk about life-long love?

Here’s the true thing about discussing everything and anything:  People usually give opinions, project biases, and share fears.  While it’s part of friendship,  it’s not (always) helpful.

Admittedly I couldn’t help K. from experience.  Absolutely I could help her as a coach.  Coaching focuses on listening , asking the right questions and providing needed tools,  are the best skills to have as a friend, manager, and parent.

'B' and 'K' adventure.  Carnival cruise ship.

‘B’ and ‘K’ adventure. Carnival cruise ship.

Over 2:00 p.m. drinks at a cafe on 34th Street, ‘K’ shared:  ‘B’s grumbles included time ‘K’ spent with their traveling companions, the changing itinerary, and money.’

Doesn’t everyone grumble about money?

Within sips, we’re both tipsy, easing me into coach mode.  ‘K’ said working through their issues was appropriate in a 20 year marriage with kids. Not for them before marriage.

My thoughts:  regardless of whether ‘B’ was the one, understanding the issues and their values (use this activity!) would help them sort out their future and ultimately help ‘K’ get the love she deserves.  Pulling out paper and a pen that didn’t work, I drew my DiSC quadrant diagram.

'K' and 'B' style circled in pink!

‘K’ and ‘B’ style circled in pink!

Here’s a cursory sum:  they’re both task focused.  ‘K’ is Dominant:  focuses on action (often)  ‘her way’ – and why she is successfully launching her innovative venture, and, very personable.  ‘B’ is Conscientious:  logical, and a planner.  ‘B’ hates schedule changes:  and this trip’s itinerary fluctuations.

‘K’ instantly got the simplicity of it all, relaxing her faster than our rum.

 

80% of conflict is due to style (Dr. Donna Springer):  a HUGE part of ‘B’ and ‘K’s challenges (and for all of us).  Communication style, is part of, but not your whole personality.  Style explains how we behave, act, and react.

People may be jerks (which is how we usually define someone different).   Style identifies specific ‘jerkdom’ behaviors bugging ‘K’ and ‘B’.

couple arguing

Here are 12 tips about style and conflict:

  1. You know that class or book you want to take about dealing with difficult people?  It’s all about their different styles.
  2. People won’t change – will you?  Didn’t think so.  But you can understand them.
  3. Realize that gurgling conflict between you and someone else is about style.  Don’t look at it personally.
  4. Realize that your judgement about someone being ______ (fill in the blank:  aggressive, pushy, flaky, unreliable, etc). is about style – not a character flaw.  Remember you have flaws too.  In fact we ALL have them.  Embrace them.
  5. Be aware of what you judge people about:  it will help you understand your own style better.  ‘K’ doesn’t like ‘B’s inability to go with a flow – but then she often redirects the flow mid-stream without concern!
  6. Don’t judge.  It doesn’t make you superior, right, or better.  You are not.  It just makes you less likely to ever have a meaningful relationship with that person.
  7. If you don’t know the DiSC or have a friend like me  (who is a coach), be aware that those behavior difference you don’t like are likely communication style differences.  I know this is a repeat – it’s that important.
  8. Listen.  That means not talking about yourself and not judging what the other person is saying because it is not about you: what you say, think, or feel.
  9. Be aware of what the other person is focusing on.  That will tell you what’s important to them.  If it’s important for you to relate to them.
  10. Be aware of what’s important to you and what YOU focus on.  This is indicative of your style.  Don’t see it as abnormal or a character flaw if it’s not what other’s expect, especially if it’s different from your family.
  11. Ask questions like ‘Tell me more’.  Then listen – without judgement.
  12. Learn about yourself.  Style is a big part of our identity and explains all those freaky things each of us do that are normal for us based on our style.

What’s your style?

How can style help you decide if you should stay or go in love and work? 

Keep your Dance Partner and Avoid the Conflict Dance with these 5 steps

17 Jun

Toe-tapping and ready to groove to the music?  

Intrigued by a dance invitation?

Well, there’s the 2-step, the waltz, and then there’s the conflict dance.

I always say that every conflict starts with an invitation.  An invitation to get all hot under the collar.  The only dance that’s never cool.

better invite dance

It’s a decision.  It takes two to tango and two to argue.

Your partner has an itch – and ‘dancing’ with you will scratch it.

‘K’ told me how ‘B’ filled her dance card:  they were on a nice romantic cruise after a week of travel and conferencing.

‘B’ brought up the money issue with a huffy ‘I spent SO much money on this romantic cruise.’  He talked numbers. ‘K’s toe started tapping itching to rumba through his rumbles.

pointing finger man at woman

After all, ‘No one puts Baby in the corner!‘ How dare he bring up money?

They  talked about the trip’s finances before they left.  She talked numbers.

I broke it to her as gently as I could:  ‘Sometimes arguments about money aren’t about money.  (Of course, sometimes they are…)  

Money is the number one fight between couples and is a leading cause of divorce!

And then I shared my  3 steps to avoid the conflict dance (and appreciate the perks of being a wallflower:

Step 1:  Avoid the seduction and heat of the moment: Recognize the ‘invitation for what it is.  An invitation to fight/argue.

‘B’ knew exactly which of ‘K’s buttons to push to ‘pump up the volume’ so to speak.  In responding, she did exactly what he wanted her to do:  dance back.

Here’s where you decide:  Do you wanna dance?  Especially realizing you’re not going to be arguing about the ‘real’ issue.

(Note:  if you do want to fight just to fight be aware of your motives. We’ve all known couples (in particular) who get into screaming matches that last for days with no end in sight and so hope of resolving the issue.)

woman aghast

Step 2:  Say:  NOTHING!  Especially if you’re also angry, since before you know it you’ll be in a dancing furry. ‘K’ responded in the way most of us would by telling ‘B’ what she had paid for including air fare and hotel.  While this is true, it was just enough to escalate the situation so they were stomping on each other’s toes.

two dancers dise by side

Better is to stop and just think a minute about what you want:  if you want to preserve the relationship:

Step 3:  Listen.  FYI:  Listening will turn the fastest twirl into a seductive slow dance – and here I mean the good kind. Your partner may not have brought up the main issue, but address it respectfully.  Giving someone what they want will ease the path to communication and connection.

Step 4:  Give your listened response – not your high kick (initial) one. Rather than sharing a detailed expense report, ‘

K’s better response would have been: “I really do appreciate this cruise”, or “I really appreciate us being here”, or “Thank you for this great cruise” or something like that.  Chances are this is what she would have said at a later time. This thank you and acknowledgement would have turned off the music to ‘B’s conflict prance. If your partner drops it, let it go temporarily.

relaxed time

If s/he doesn’t, or definitely at a later time:

Step 5:  Bring the issue a little closer and ask for more (info) The issue will come up again (as we all know), so stand on tippy-toes, and in ‘K’s situation ask: ‘You know the other day when you brought up _?  I wonder if we could spend a few minutes talking about money?”

choose how we dance saying

Repeat:  ” I appreciated the cruise (or what you appreciated!) and would like to know more about how you feel paying for it:

Or

“What would make you feel better considering both of our financial situations?’

Or

‘What could we do differently next time that would make you feel better?’

Often, if you are both relaxed at this point, your partner will talk about what the real issue is/was.

In ‘K’s situation, she was talking to me, not ‘B’.  Though she did realize he was probably feeling put off because she had (professionally) spent so much time with  other men during the conference and their travels. As in all conflicts, this one goes deeper…  Next, I’ll share ‘K’ and ‘B’s communication style differences.  I also recommended they go through their values.  It’s all a start – a good start!  And I know they deserve the best.

What causes you to do the conflict dance?

Empathy: Be kind

7 Jan

I love this quote, so key, so true of empathy:

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.
by Saint Philo of Alexandria

(and recently read in the book, ‘The other side of the world’, by Jay Neugeboren)

I always think of empathy as the key to connecting and understanding others – and even myself.  While this post is from one of my other blogs:  http://identity5772.wordpress.com, it certainly is essential to communication.  And what’s more fashionable than shoes, but good communication!

Here’s to blister-free walking this week!

Shes!  When did shoes become the go-to destination for journeys to nirvana?  When did well-appointed heels turn cads into princes and transform us plain girls to ‘sex-y in the city’?   Or has footwear always been as important to fashion as the saying: ‘Don’t judge me until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes’  has been to identity and peace?

Does our penchant for buying shoes, amassing Imelda Marcos or Carrie Bradshaw sized collections speak to our need to understand others?   Do new shoes provide  the potential and ability to walk that mile to understanding?

My footwear reflects my soul and mirrors my identity.  My journeys are on

Shoes fit for my very long journeys

foot and I’ve learned the hard way that Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahnik’s derail my  joy into train wrecks.

Footwear can define identity, and, is just as complicated.   I recently told a dear friend, ‘we may wear the same size, but we like and wear very different shoes – literally and figuratively’.

It can be hard to understand someone you love.  Someone  whose footwear appears interchangeable with your own.  Different styles, different

One pre-Xmas night, a group of young men were camped in front of a shoe store on 34th Street in Manhattan. They were spending the night to be first in line to buy the ‘newest’ sneakers. What kind? What did they look like? No-one knew – just that they wanted them.

toes add difficulty relating to the owner of the heart-pumping-blood to those other  toes. As a species focusing on souls, rather than soles, and the miles journeyed, can surely help promote listening, peace and, understanding identity.

Empathy, the ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes, to listen for  identity without bias or judgement.   Knowing and doing are two totally different things.

Empathy can improve communication and connection, if that  first giant step is taken:  to understand what someone else is feeling or what they need.

Swapping metaphoric  ‘shoes’:  Would any genocide occur if perpetrators imagined themselves, or their mothers, or wives, or children as victims?  Would they say ‘NO’ to crimes of hate?

This must be a key to peace as I wrote about in my recent post ‘Peace Requires Listening’.

Daniel Lubetzky,CEO of Kind Bars and PeaceWorks remarked (one of) the key to Palestinian-Israeli peace is for Israeli’s to listen to Palestinian needs.  I think a shoe swap and long survival hike might help.

I’ve often found empathy, along with blisters, after finding myself on a path with someone I’ve judged.  ‘Blisters’ force me to slow down, open my eyes, acknowledge the pain.

It’s painful to listen if we are not sure of our identity, or we are not on firm footing ourselves. In Vilna, Lithuania (‘Dinner in Vilna’), Lilly said she was unhappy before she focused her identity and connected with Judaism.

Some say shoe shopping, especially during a sale, is a religious experience. There are other ways to worship.

Empathy.  Walking that metaphoric mile.  Several years ago, I discovered the cure:

Imagine these pills shaped like SHOES: Empathy pills!

A pill.

A shoe-shaped empathy pill.  

Mid-judgement, mid-hate action, a quick pill pop would change everything with, ‘Here, walk a mile in my shoes.  Have an empathy pill.’

As soon as a pharmaceutical company gets back to me, I’ll take your orders.

In the meantime, how has a pair of shoes helped you understand others, or, shaped or defined your identity? 

What leg of your journey has developed your empathy?

Post-Newton, Ct. – How do we save the world?

17 Dec

A young man opens fire on an elementary school – LITTLE KIDS – killing 20 kids and 6 adults.

We’re not at war, are we?

So why?

I don’t know, and, since the shooter has killed both himself and his mother, we may never know.

It’s unimaginable to think about anyone going into a school and shooting 6 year olds.

Yet it’s happened.

And I know cyberspace is filled with us bloggers writing about yet another attack.  A terrorist attack of a sort.  A hate crime of a sort.

The BBC this morning discussed the lack of care for those with mental illness.

THIS to me was the issue.  After all, it’s not guns who kill, but rather people.  And to commit a crime of this magnitude and with this focus, surely this young man had some sort of mental illness.

We can all speak up and sign petitions.  And we should.  For gun control, and especially for mental health services.

Even more, I think we can all do little things and help those with lesser pain, ‘managed’ illness, I guess you can say.    ‘Illness’ like being affected by shorter days, or less work, or depleted resources – financially or emotionally.

Especially this time of year.  While the airwaves are filled with toe-tapping music even for this dreidel-spinning, menorah-lighting Jew, and yummy delights are passed beneath our noses, this can also be a sad time for many.

Just last night someone told me she can’t wait for the season to be over.  To get back to everyday life.  ‘Regular’ life.  ‘This‘ is all too much.

I love this sign from Bija Yoga not far from Union Square in NYC.  I think it offers compassion and kindness to all of us in the midst of a struggle.
I love this sign from Bija Yoga, 20 E. 17th St., NYC. I think it offers compassion and kindness to all of us in the midst of a struggle.

We may not be able to take care of the big things, but we can take care of these little ones:

We can offer support and kindness to people feeling vulnerable.  Compassion and humorEmpathy and an ear without judgement.

How do you know who’s in pain?

YOU DON’T.

It’s just as easy to treat everyone as if they may need a little extra  cheer.

“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.  ”
―    Rachel Naomi Remen

The holiday season is short but our memories are long.  I say let’s reach out and touch someone’s heart this season and do what we can to really bring good tidings and cheer into as many lives as possible.

That to me is creating a miracle!  A much needed miracle!   Bolstering someone’s ‘internal life’ is huge.  And sometimes all it takes is a smile or the patience and time to connect.

My friend Pam sent the link of this powerful, must read article:

now.msn.com/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother-says-mom-of-mentally-ill-son

 

We can all do one small thing with huge results!  Remember:

“Whoever saves a single life, it is as if he had saved the whole world.”

— The Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:5

If we can’t banish guns off the face of the planet, we can still save the world!

What kindness will you pass on?

Dinosaur Communication – Tongues vs. Thumbs

14 Jun

I’m a  bit of a dinosaur.

The good news is, that we are never as alone as we think!

I prefer face to face conversations, writing letters on stationary dropped into a mailbox on the corner.   My palm  is open and empty.  I walk the city focused on feeling while resisting the trend to record and capture ‘the moment’.  I lug around a paper book , savoring the feel, the mustiness.  Tentatively holding a page between my fingertips, that millisecond before turning it to the ‘been there, read ‘that’ side adds sweetness to my read.  My books are strewn with pieces of paper marking remarkable quotes and scenes to be reread on a whim.

Evolution is inevitable and species either adapt or become extinct.   Life and technology changes, moving us forward.   My preferences are becoming archeological treasure while my survival instincts kick in.  Why I can text, and LIKE it!  I can be a 21st century woman though that definition is still being written.    To be sure, how and what we communicate has evolved and now resides in this century.  These change effects how we interact, relate, and feel

Remember meeting and talking at the water cooler before water bottles and emailing messages across cubicles? Interestingly, the people pictured are ‘older’. Are water coolers extinct? How much office culture is created over a shared beverage?

about ourselves and our relationships.  How can it not?  Right?

Cyberspace must need well-trained air traffic controllers to handle flying messages.  I sometimes think counting messages is the modern-day equivalent of counting ‘coup’.   I love listening to a friend’s messages, knowing we will both laugh at the same thing at the same time in the message.  Does a written LOL count as a shared laugh?

And yet, it is so seductively easy to send a text, an email rather than press

What’s wrong with this picture? Is there anywhere we don’t text anymore?

the keys to call and connect to a friend.  It gets the ‘job’ done, too easily, too quickly.

But here’s one thing I think, I know for sure:  while our thumbs are winning the competition with our tongues in communicating and connecting, our basic human needs to be acknowledged and LISTENED to still need to be met.    And I wonder if the partnership of thumbs and technology will ‘do it’ for us.

(I’ll stay clear of references to tongues, other than with respect to the physical act of talking.)

Communication is like playing catch with a ball tossed between two or more people.  These days, that ball is often tossed into cyberspace, caught, assumedly,

Never to young to learn to ‘play’

unreturned, or twittered as a fly ball with the hope that someone, somewhere, will catch it.

Communication is the game to play!  Playing is a way to get that need to be acknowledged and listened to met.   Blogs, twitter, and, Facebook bolster hope someone ‘out there’ is acknowledging and ‘listening’ by reading. I hope you are there.  Are you?   It’s a great effort, but it’s NOT playing catch.  Unless you leave a comment.

Game on!  It’s tongues vs. thumbs

Which satisfies your need for communication and connection? 

VOTE by checking out the next post!!! Which do you prefer (or use more often) tongues or thumbs or tongues to communicate??? Leave a comment!

Which do you prefer to actually use?

My suspicion:   many of us miss and crave face-to-face ‘catch’, a.k.a. two-way conversation and connection.

 Do you spend enough time sitting across a table, waiting for a raised eyebrow, a hint of a smile, or                                                    sharing tear-induced laughter?

I  miss it!

So here’s my question: 

 is ‘thumb-communication’ an evolutionary advantage to tongue-communication?

Where do you get your quality ‘tongue’ or face-to-face communication?

As a dinosaur, I’m flexing my thumbs and doing all I can to propagate face to face, ‘old-fashioned tongue’ communication   (i.e. talk!).

Stay tuned for posts filled with stories and tips about how communication is the key to survival.

Join with me and share your thoughts on how we can naturally select how we communicate and thrive!