Taking ownership for our actions and dealing with them

This is a great learning post for me to write.

It is sometimes not what we do, it is how we respond to what we do. This, for me, is one of those moments

I had arranged to meet a good friend in a local coffee shop, Workhouse Coffee in King Street, Reading, one that is dog-friendly. I arrived earlier and ordered my coffee.

“£2.90 please”, said the Barista.

I offered her my card.

“Sorry, we have a minimum spend of £5”.

“Oh”, I said and gave her one of my ‘dark’ looks, (anyone who knows me well will understand, and I’m embarrassed to say, “It’s not nice”).

“What am I to do then?”, I asked coldly.

“Well, you could buy a pastry, or go across the road to the cashpoint”, she offered nicely.

In spite of me having cash in my pocket, and knowing that in the grand scheme of things walking across to the cash point would have not been a big deal. Not me, I just stood holding out my card, still looking ‘that look’, stupidly expecting her to suddenly change her mind and accept it.

I turned and left the coffee shop. Her colleague, who was in the middle of making my coffee, offered me, “Have a good day”. “Whatever”, I thought.

I walked outside and thought, now what do I do? Right, got it, sorted, I’ll send a message to my friend, to say we need to meet somewhere else. He was nearby so messaged to say he would see me in a minute, insisting that we, or rather you, need to go back. In my mind, there was no way I was going back, but deep in my heart I knew he was right, I needed to go back.

So he arrived, I sort of smiled about it and we went back in.

“I have solved it”, I said, meekly and desperately trying to contain my embarrassment, “I have found someone else”, a half-hearted attempt to retain my ego, and judging by the look on the Barista’s face, failing miserably.

We took our coffees and chatted, not mentioning the episode.

I am not sure about you, but my mind works overtime on my behalf, helping me out, giving me answers, solving my problems, and giving me nudges and sometimes sharp kicks that something needs to be done, and done now. And so it turned out on this day too.

As we were finishing off, I knew what I needed to do.

I went to the counter, looked at the Barista, and asked, “Could I have a word”.

She replied, “You want a quid?” (Just when I thought it could not get any worse!)

“No”, I said politely, “I would like a word with you please”.


“When I was first here, I was extremely rude, and for that, I am very sorry”.

“I appreciate that the rule on minimum spend is not your decision and I should have respected that. Nothing you said or did was rude, aggressive or wrong, you were simply explaining to me your position”.

“I take ownership for my words and actions, and once again, I am sorry”.

“Oh”, she said, “thank you. That means a lot”.

She was very gracious and generous in her response.

On leaving I said that I would be back, after all, there were so many good things about the place, the coffee is great, the staff and the environment are welcoming and they have an amazing selection of pastries.

On reflection, it was important for me to get off my high horse, as my Mum would say, it was good for me to be humble, it was vital for me to have owned my actions and even more so to have genuinely offered my apologies.

Thank you Alex Pidgley for helping me to learn a lesson.

Colin Smith, more often known as The Listener. Helping individuals to feel heard, think better and to learn how to listen. https://dexteritysolutions.co.uk

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When the System Lets Us Down

Nobody likes to get let down by the system, especially so my daughter who is doing what she loves, being a Children’s Nurse, working in Paediatric A&E.

It is a special relationship we have, as we get to engage most days. During these times she often shares what life is like during one of her twelve hours shifts. She may have the odd quiet day, but mainly her days are full on, and I mean full on.

She shares some of the highs and lows, the excitement, the challenges, and of course those sad moments. We have a relationship where she can share whatever she likes, however dark or difficult, which includes some choice language at times. Even more so during my recent chat with her, where the system lets her down, as you will read below.

A snapshot of a typical 6 minutes on a shift

As she is primarily ‘in charge’ of the Children’s A&E department, she is juggling priorities all the time, (there is no point in her writing them down, as they will have changed before she has finished writing), triaging the children that present to the department, deciding if their condition is an emergency and needs to be seen by a Doctor to start immediate treatment or if they can wait in time order to be seen, just been informed that there is a sick child being brought in by Ambulance and due here in five minutes, (note to self, is there a bed available in the Resus area?), what about the child that has been here over three hours, if they require further investigations, then they may breach (means going over a four hour limit and the Trust may get fined), need to call the Bed Manager to inform them there could be a potential breach, where is the Doctor I asked for to about ten minutes ago, a parent is getting cross at me, questioning me as to when their child will be seen by a Doctor as she has been waiting for nearly an hour , offer apologies and explain that the Doctors and Nurses are working as fast as they can and her child will be seen soon, this prompts another child’s parent to come up to the desk and ask the very same question, my Nursing colleague who happens to be a new Nurse, (joined the department recently, having just qualified), needs me to do a minor procedure, (which she is not yet trained or qualified to do), goodness the Ambulance will be here in one minute, I have to document all that is happening, each call, each interaction, each conversation whoever they are from, have now been asked by a different Doctor to do something that I do not feel is right for a child, (it is right for an adult), and he is more senior than me, gulp, but I have to tell him, “I do not feel what you are suggesting for the child is correct”, does not go down well, but he understands, although he was arguing with me loudly and in a place where many people could hear, I have to run, the child has arrived in Resus, oh my, this is a really poorly child, she had drowned in a swimming pool, they did mouth to mouth at the pool and in the Ambulance on the way to A&E, she looks lifeless, but we have to try and save her life, the child has been stabilised and transferred to a Specialist Hospital, quick tidy up and restock of equipment that has been used, back in the Department, triaging a new patient, dealing with an upset parent, trying to convince the Doctor they are needed and needed now, and maybe, just maybe, if lucky, a chance for a drink and maybe to use the bathroom.

The Highs and Lows

There are times when she has experienced a child who passes away on the shift, (which is understandably hard on everyone, Nurse and Doctors included, who have been desperately trying to save that life for some time), followed by a set of procedures that need to be carried out, alongside being compassionately there for the parents and family members, who need her support.

All of this goes on in a small, airless, windowless area, a large waiting room, a few small assessment/treatment rooms and a small open central nursing station where the computers/telephones are located, where parents can come up to and ask questions. The noise when it is busy is constant, frantic, dramatic, never ending. So stepping out into the fresh air and almost silence is truly like a breath of fresh air.


Most days the Nurses get used to it, for many, the drive or ride home has the events of the shift laying on their minds, did I remember to document that incident, did I speak to the parent correctly, what happened to that child we sent off in the Ambulance to the Specialist Hospital, what about the family of the child who passed away?

Some days she just needs to talk, needs to let it out, some times just to be in the silence and to know that her unspoken words are being heard.

Don’t get me wrong, she is so passionate about her job, loves helping the children and their families, making a difference, and could not see herself doing anything else.

Being let down

Sadly, as happened yesterday, the system that she works in, lets her and many of her fellow Nurses down big time. A decision was made, actioned immediately and without consultation, which undermines the more senior Nurses and sees them losing some of their potential income. My daughter is one of those impacted and it was tough for me to hear about this sudden change, especially after a day in which she and her colleagues had saved lives, made a difference and put in their whole hearts and souls.

This is what happens when the system focuses on the head and follows the money, rather than considering the heart and doing what is right for our Nurses and for the patients that they care for each and every day.

Colin Smith, more often known as The Listener. Helping individuals to feel heard, think better and to learn how to listen. https://dexteritysolutions.co.uk



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Feedback is Good, Appreciation is Better

How many times do we get feedback when we don’t want it and don’t receive appreciation when we crave it?

There is a subtle but important difference between feedback and appreciation. At a personal level, feedback is predominately focussed on what someone is doing and whilst aimed at improving performance can be positive or negative. Appreciation, on the other hand, is focussed on the person, who they are, who they are being, and is always positive.

We are quick to give negative feedback, less so the positive. Sadly, it is unusual to give appreciation.

There is plenty written about how to give and receive feedback, so let’s focus primarily on the art of giving and receiving appreciation.

In the workplace, many employees report that feeling appreciated by their employer and/or co-workers promotes their sense o self-worth, greater emotional investment in their work and fosters a more trusting environment.

For some of us, giving and even receiving appreciation is not easy….

We asked workshop participants, who all worked in the same department, to pair up and offer a word or two of appreciation to each other. For most of them, this was extremely difficult to do, both as the speaker and as the receiver.

Part of the reason it feels difficult is firstly, it is unusual, and secondly, it requires us to tune in and sense the other person, and then allow a word or two to arise from within. It is not something to think about, the words come from our heart.

However, offering appreciation itself is straightforward….

The speaker looks at the recipient, pauses and allows a word or two of appreciation to arise, not to over think it, and simply trust that the words will come. The receiver looks at the speaker, listens closely to the words and feels the emotion behind what they were saying, takes it in and says, “Thank you”. Swap over and repeat.

When working in groups, at the end of a meeting, invite everyone to offer a word of appreciation to the group and then to the person on their left or right.

Try it with your partner or child tonight, and watch them taking it in….after, of course, they ask, “What do you want?

We crave being appreciated as it helps us to feel seen and heard, to feel valued, and to know that we matter.

Colin Smith, more often known as The Listener.

Helping individuals to feel heard, think better and to learn how to listen.


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Mind the gap

Why do we get distracted when we are listening to someone speaking?

Why are we so quick to respond to a question or to offer our opinion? When, on reflection wish we had said it more clearly, added more detail and depth, or just remained silent and thought about our response before speaking?

We can speak at around 125 words per minute. We hear and understand words at around 450 words per minute. (Hence why we can listen to podcasts or videos at up to twice the normal speed.)

This means that even when we are focussed on listening to the speaker, we can get easily distracted. They say a word that triggers our distraction, e.g. ‘cinema’ or ‘football’. Or a thought that enters our head, e.g. ‘What shall I have for dinner tonight?’ or ‘I need to remember to call my boss’. Whatever it is, we have stopped listening and we need to get back to what the speaker is saying.

One way to return to the speaker is to focus on our breath. As we return, begin to notice the person speaking, their facial features, their eyes, if they are relaxed, uncomfortable, where are they looking, etc. All of these small pieces of information, added to their words, help us to form a more intimate picture of the person in front of us. Whilst we are listening with our ears, we are also seeing them with our eyes, sensing them with our intuition, connecting to their heart, and so much more. We may be fully ‘seeing’ this person for the very first time, even though we have ‘known’ them for many years. (This happened during one of my workshops, with two very colourful people, resulting in them both shedding a few tears together and finishing the exercise with a wholehearted hug.)

Recently though, I realised that there is an even more profound angle on the speed of speaking and understanding, this time how it relates to the speaker.

Typically, in a society that values the speaker and talking, there exists an unsaid competition for speaking first, most and longest. In order to compete, we need to learn to compose our thoughts, wait for the speaker to draw breath or sort of finish, all at the expense of our fully listening. (I say sort of, because it is very rare for a person to be given the time to actually finish speaking) The moment they stop speaking, we immediately speak, unless of course, someone else is even faster than us!

Quite often, sadly, we will assume that we know what the other person is going to say, and we interrupt them with our point. As we are speaking, someone then interrupts us. The stress in the room rises, as it would do in competition, and so it goes on. Because we are stressed we experience the fight or flight response, at which point the quality of our thinking diminishes.

In much the same way as the listener is able to listen and understand at c450 words per minute, the speaker also thinks at the same rate. However, they are only able to speak at c125 words per minute. This means there are probably another c325 words that have been thought, but not fully expressed at that time.

Could we give them more time to think and to speak?

When the speaker is stressed, as, in a ‘competition’, the words that are said are likely to be those words that are the simplest and quickest to formulate, a sort of path of least resistance. “I need to get my words out fast and out now, as I am almost certainly going to be interrupted or have my moment taken away when I draw breath or finish a sentence”. In that stressful situation, speaking without real thinking is all we are capable of doing.

Now imagine an environment that is supportive of people being heard, through individuals actively listening to the speaker, things would change dramatically. When the speaker reaches the end of a sentence, pauses for breath or even stops for a moment to think, if they are not interrupted and instead encouraged to continue speaking, there is a good chance the remaining c325 words will be spoken.

Even better, when it is your turn to speak, imagine how you might feel if you too were given time to think before speaking, and know you will not be interrupted.

In my experience when people are first learning the above approach, they expect it to take too long for everyone to think, speak, and fully listen. Whilst I agree that in the early stages of breaking these old patterns, the time taken in conversation is longer. However, very quickly the quality and depth of the conversation improves, the time taken reduces, which makes the effort all worthwhile. All involved in the conversation begin to feel heard, feel valued and feel that they matter. And we would all like that, wouldn’t we?

“To be interrupted is not good. To get lucky and not be interrupted is better.  But to know you will not be interrupted allows you truly to think for yourself’.  Nancy Kline Author of Time to Think and More Time to Think

My special thanks to Nancy Kline and her fellow Time to Think facilitators, whose thinking has been fundamental to many aspects of my own thinking and way of being.

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Hear from or Listen to….So what?

“Raise your arm if you believe you are a better than average listener?”

“Keep your arm raised if anyone has said, “Thank you for listening”, in the last two weeks.

I ask these two questions at the beginning of a workshop and usually, everyone raises their arm to the first question, and the majority of attendees take them down in response to the second question.

Why might this be?

Primarily, we make the mistake of believing that listening and hearing is the same thing. In addition, living in a fast-paced, multi distracting society, we feel we have little or no time to be fully present enough to deeply listen to another person.

A typical response is that listening and hearing is the same thing.

Unless you are audibly impaired we can all hear, yet only a few choose to listen.

Hearing is passive, it is an ability, it happens without our thinking. For example, someone calls your name out across a noisy room, you hear it, a train passes whilst you are sleeping, you hear it, until you get used to it. We hear everything

Listening is active; it is a skill, even though it looks like you’re not doing anything. You have to decide to listen, to pay attention; you have to be a listener. Research shows that when speakers feel they are being heard, they are more likely to like and trust them.

One of the simple ways I choose to remember the difference is, “We hear from”, and, “We listen to”.

“We hear from”, means we don’t have to do anything to hear them.

“We listen to”, means we have to choose to listen to the person speaking.


Next time you are walking in the park, stop and intend to notice the various sounds coming at you, maybe an aeroplane, children laughing, people talking, cars passing by, road works, music playing, and so on. Then, notice that you had not taken any notice of these sounds until you turned your attention to them. Yet they were always there, our brain had filtered them out as not important. Now, whilst paying these sounds your full attention, try to send someone a text message. Notice how your mind has to focus on one or the other, and how difficult it is to focus on both things at the same time.

How many times do we tune out, barely even hearing, let alone listening, to our work colleague, our partner, and our children? How many times do we try to listen to more than one thing or one person?

Take this new awareness into the workplace and your home life, and set your intention to focus on being more fully present, noticing more sounds, remaining silent and letting the other person talk.

“His gestures were few. But the attention he gave me, his appreciation of what I said, even when I said it badly, was extraordinary. You’ve no idea what it meant to be listened to like that.”  Dale Carnegie, Author of How to Win Friends and Influence People


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Why Bother Listening?

What difference could better listening skills make to you and your people?

What impact could better listening have on your business?

What value would you put on improving your connections with your clients?

Imagine the benefits if all your people fell in love with listening, listening more actively and deeply to your clients and to each other.

Imagine if this resulted in everyone feeling really heard and valued?


Listening is my passion and I offer people and teams the opportunity to feel heard and to find out how to more actively listen.

I am curious to know your thoughts and observations on the above.

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What does the Tour de France have to do with active listening?


Way back in the nineties I became aware of the Tour de France. It looked interesting, lots of action, amazing feats of riding and endurance, and the likes of Miguel Indurain, Jan Ullrich and the now-deposed Lance Armstrong making the headlines. For me, though it was just a bike race, and a bike race simply meant the fastest cyclist winning.

Fortunately, I knew someone who understood about cycling and he was able to explain that it was far more than just a bike race. I quizzically looked at him, ‘What more is there to know about a bike race, surely I know all there is to know.  I have been riding since my Dad taught me and I can see it is a bike race with my own two eyes”. Oh, how wrong I was….

He explained to me about the teams, the way they are set up, i.e. sprinters, climbers, time trialists, and the domestiques, (riders who serve others in the team). He coached me on the meaning of GC (Grand Classification), King of the Mountains, the various coloured jerseys, the tactics, etc.

Patiently, he listened to all my questions, “Why does the leader let another rider go off ahead and win a stage? Why does nobody attack the race leader on the last day”, and so many more?

Turns out that the Tour de France is far more than just a bike race. I learned how to watch it actively, rather than passively. What a difference this has made to my enjoyment and understanding of the race.

So what has this all to do with active listening?

Only 6% of us are actually active listeners, yet the majority of us believe we are good listeners. What more is there to know about listening, surely I know all there is to know, I have been doing it all my life, I can hear well enough with my own two ears”.

The reality is that listening is passive, active listening is, well, active.

So what does active listening entail that makes it so different to just listening.

  1. Attention – giving the person who is speaking your full attention. If there is anything more important to you at the time the person is speaking, stop the conversation and go and do it. Attention is the greatest gift you can give to another person, be it a work colleague, your partner or your children.
  2. Eye contact – looking the speaker in the eyes, and continuing to do so even when they look away to think. The quality of their thinking will increase when they return to looking at you and notice that you are still looking.
  3. Silence – not speaking, or even looking like you want to speak. Even when it feels or looks like they have finished, wait longer. More often the best thinking happens in that moment of silence.
  4. No interrupting – do not say anything, as doing so interrupts their thinking. Ideally, do not take notes.
  5. Be curious – intend to be open-minded and interested about whatever they may say to you,
  6. Body Language – sit facing the speaker, lean forwards, unfold your arms, be still, relax and breathe deeply and quietly.
  7. No fixing – you are here to listen, not to fix them or to solve their problem. In listening they will more often than not arrive at a solution without you saying anything.
  8. Equality – see the person in front of you as an equal, fellow human being, who needs to talk or think.
  9. No judging – difficult as it may be, this is not about right or wrong, just an opportunity for them to speak and to think.
  10. Appreciation – once the conversation is over, offer one specific thing that you appreciate about them, and do so whilst looking them in the eye.

If you wish to be heard, think better or to learn how to actively listen please call me – 07939-013651

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Eric Clapton told to wait for 10 years for his guitar to be made

Curious how three emails I received this week all fitted so well together.

The first to land was a blog post from Seth Godin.  Seth sees the world differently to most commentators, and his writing is so spot on it can stop me in my tracks.

In his post the message was simple. “Most of us are not in the business of being perfect (i.e. we are not all Doctors, airline pilots, etc.), so stop behaving as though you are!” http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/06/abandoning-perfection.html

The need to be perfect can hide a multitude of excuses for me, such as procrastination, lack of confidence, fear of rejection, not being wanted or liked and so many more.  Yet, in reality, we have no real need to be perfect.  Having said that, it is not an excuse for doing poor, shoddy work.  It also brings to mind a belief that failure is a bad thing and that successful people do not fail.  Brene Brown once commented about failure at a TED conference, by observing that everyone who spoke had failed, not once but many times during their careers.  Yet all those watching would consider the speakers to be successful.

The second message to land was from Danielle LaPorte.  Whilst not as well known as Seth, this lady writes dramatically yet with very few words, and inspirationally yet in a way very different to most ‘inspirers’.

In this post she proposed that, “We show up, be human, be honest and be real”, in all that we say and do.  She also said that, “We need to show our vibe, to create our tribe”.  http://www.daniellelaporte.com/the-risky-business-of-being-sincere-in-business

How many of us live our lives for the benefit of others, maybe out of fear, lack of confidence, fear of rejection…sounding familiar?  It is almost that to show up and be human, honest and real is a bad thing, and if we decide to behave that way, people would laugh at us, not like us, and not take us seriously.  Yet those who have shown their real selves to the world, have not only been applauded for their courage, but the connection that was there before with their tribe is now even stronger and deeper.  Furthermore, that one person’s willingness to do so, gives others permission to do the same, thus sharing their vulnerability too.  Brene Brown’s TED talks on shame and vulnerability explains this in more detail.

Finally, Jonathan Fields’ message.  Jonathan is the founder of the Good Life Project.  Here Jonathan interviews well know people, including Seth Godin and Brene Brown, coincidently.  He was also behind a great resource called The Art of Revolution, aimed at business owners who are seeking to build their business based on what they love and are passionate about.  Again, a very similar theme to what Seth offers in his book, The Icarus Deception.

In this ‘sound riff’, as Jonathan calls them, he references the work of Wayne Henderson, a legendary US guitar maker, who once told Eric Clapton that he would be happy to make him a guitar, but he would have to wait for about ten years for him to do so.  Jonathan says that, “Greatness is not just about skills it is about your essence, it is not just about your experience (as in Wayne’s case making guitars), but the sum of all your experiences (that go into making each guitar)”.  What’s important is the state of mind of the person building the guitar”.  He goes on “If you want to make better stuff, be a better person”.  http://www.goodlifeproject.com/be-better-person

We all know the old story of the two bricklayers being asking what they were doing, one replying, “Building a wall”, and the other replying, “Building a Cathedral”.  So, not needing to be perfect aligns nicely to what Danielle is saying, if we show up, be human, be honest and be real, it shows up in what we produce, be it a product or a service.  The energy in which we build and deliver our offering gets carried by that offering to our Client who will notice, albeit at a subconscious level, the difference.  Indeed, seeking to make something perfect, could take away the human element.  Eric Clapton certainly noticed this all when he picked up and played one of Wayne’s guitars.

So, how are you showing up now, or going to show up tomorrow?

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Could a Piano Concert Change the Way we Listen?

I invite you to imagine that you have purchased tickets for a concert given by a world famous pianist.  As the day arrives you are filled with excitement, looking forward to finally being able to hear her live for the first time.

You arrive at the concert hall and notice the hubbub of expectation. The lights are dimmed, the spotlight falling on the piano as the curtains are pulled back.  The pianist is announced and she comes on stage, smiling at the audience, before sitting in front of the piano.  Total quiet descends, you could hear a pin drop.  The pianist takes a deep breath to compose themselves and becomes present….

Where is the pianist’s focus now?

As she is about to start playing, a member of the audience stands up as he wants to raise something about what is going to be played.  He apologises for not reading the programme notes, but would really like to know what is going to be played, as he has heard many of these pieces before.

What is now going through the pianist’s mind?

Another audience member responds and agrees, another disagrees, the pianist, although startled starts to play, another person speaks and another, she briefly stops playing, but regains her composure and starts to play again.

How are all these interruptions impacting her performance?

About five minutes in, the doors at the rear bang open, everyone turns around and looks, the pianist stops playing and looks, “Sorry I am late, the audience is told loudly, there were problems with my train”.  Looking now her, he says, “Sorry, please continue”.

How easy will it be for her to pick up from where she stopped playing, how quickly can she get back into the flow?

Midway through the piece the pianist looks up (as they do) and notices some of the audience either whispering to the person next to them, many others are on their mobiles.

What does she think now?

A little later someone else stands up, interrupts by asking how long this performance is going on for as they have a train to catch.

Another stands up, interrupts the pianist, and without asking, offers their version of how this particular piece will end.

During a deep and meaningful part of the performance, a mobile goes off, the pianist stops and looks, so does everyone else, apologies all round, the pianist starts to play again but her performance sounds and feels different now.

What is happening to the pianist?  How is she feeling?  What is she thinking?

How would you be feeling?

We have all been to concerts, and apart from the mobile phone going off, the others never really happen.

Why not?

  • Is it about respect for the pianist?
  • It is not the ‘done’ thing?
  • I could be interested and curious as to what they are going to play?
  • Possibly attention, at this moment the concert is the most important thing on my mind for the next two hours?
  • Maybe it is a chance for me to just stop, be present, be in the moment and truly listen?

Yet all of the above ‘interruptions’ happen each and every day in our conversations and meetings at work, in conversations with our partners and especially with our children!

Research has shown that 60% of all management problems are related to inadequate listening, and in addition, we misinterpret, misunderstand or change 70-90% of what we hear.  Yet out of the four modes of communication, Writing, Listening, Reading and Speaking, Listening receives the least amount of formal training (zero to a few hours only) and is the highest percentage of time used (45%)

Returning to the pianist.  They will have invested significant time and resource in their work.  They love what they do, and they know how to get into the flow.  They know that of the million or more notes they play if they get right more than 75% of the notes, it will have been a good evening.  A great pianist plays from their heart, and we as the audience will feel the difference when they do, it will connect with us.  When they are at one with the piano, in the flow, in the moment, etc., we feel that too.

When we are interrupted, our flow is halted, our concentration stopped.  Of course, great pianists can pick things up very quickly, but something, however small, has changed and it will probably be noticed.

When we notice our audience not listening, such as through whispering to another, looking at their watch or mobile, not looking at us, etc., we feel it.  We also feel it if their attention has shifted away, even if visually it all looks the same.  Children pick this up even faster!

Ideas for being a better listener

  1. Face the speaker.
  2. Look into their eyes, even when their eyes move away to think, be there when their eyes return to yours.
  3. Be present and give them your full attention. Focus on your breath if you find your attention wandering.
  4. Be interested and curious about what they may say….you will be surprised when you do!
  5. Do not interrupt.
  6. Let them finish. Even when you think they have finished, remain silent for a little longer.  What comes out next could be so profound it will change everything.
  7. When listening is done well the speaker will feel heard, will feel valued and will feel that they matter.
  8. Great listening comes with practice, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

Happy listening.

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Listening Better at Christmas, or Anytime

Spending time with my family and loved ones”, is what most people will say if you ask them what they will be doing this Christmas.

I also believe, sadly, that in most households there will be far more arguing and upsets than at any other time of the year.  So what is going wrong?

One thing I am certain of is that it would be a far happier and more peaceful atmosphere if we simply listened better to each other.

Stephen Covey (7 Habits) rightly says, “Seek first to understand”, he then goes on, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply”.

 My top tips for listening better

  1. Stop everything that you are doing and face the speaker.
  2. Make eye contact and just listen, remaining curious about what they may say.
  3. Do not interrupt….unless there is an emergency, everything else is secondary to what they are saying!
  4. When they have stopped speaking, remain silent a little longer, they will probably say more.
  5. When they have really finished, pause for a moment before you reply.
  6. Tell them one thing you appreciate about them.

“The only thing the human mind seems unable to multi-task is attention.  It can do lots of other things at the same time, but not if one of them is attention.  We cannot do other things and listen at the same time.  Our children, of all ages and until they or we die, need us to listen to them.  Listening is right up there with food and air, and love.  Actually, it is love.” Nancy Kline (Author of Time to Think)

Two short videos on listening   Tips for Listening   Symptoms of not being heard

Colin D Smith – The Listener http://www.dexteritysolutions.co.uk




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