17 June 2010

Be Skeptical, But Learn to Listen

The Fifth Agreement: Be Skeptical, But Learn To Listen.

"Don’t believe yourself or anybody else. Use the power of doubt to question everything you hear: Is it really the truth? Listen to the intent behind words, and you will understand the real message." ~ Don Miguel & Don Jose Ruiz

There is a tiny yet powerful word in the middle of BELIEVE. Yes, it is LIE! Not the malicious, on purpose lie you might know and be familiar with (hmmm); but the kind of lie that is truth for you but not for someone else. My truth may not be your truth.

You were conditioned as children to believe what the elders told you. Well, who told the elders? Their elders! And if the beginning elder has incorrect information, then guess what got passed down? You guessed it – incorrect information. Remember, playing telephone as children? The first child would whisper a message in the ear of the next child and so on down the line. When the last child repeated the message, it was so different from the original message.

The second part of Don Miguel’s fifth agreement is crucial in building excellent communications skills – learn to listen. This is where so many people fall down. Listening is an art and a skill and one not readily taught to the masses. Most of the time, people just don’t listen. Instead, they are rehearsing their rebuttals, eagerly awaiting their turn to speak. When you actively listen to someone, you come away drained, but listening is an action.

I have been told that I am a good listener. I have honed this skill. I want to hear what someone has to say. That is not to say that I sit and listen to gossip and slander or toxic negativity. No, no, that is not being helpful in any way. I listen to help another. I listen as a coach, as a counselor and as a facilitator. I listen for the other person’s truth, though it may not be my truth; and I listen without judgment or criticism.

Just for today, STOP, TAKE A BREATH, and ASK:
“Am I listening to fix or judge, or am I listening to learn?”

Coach Carolyn

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