Listening and Respect

Bad Habits

I have a new appreciation for good listeners after practicing my active listening skills over the past week or so. When I asked myself, “why do you talk so much” the answer was not completely clear… until my mom called me. I barely got a word in with her. She talked at me, rarely listened to anything I had to say, and then talked over me to complain. We really are shaped by our parents at such a young age that the habits become unconscious.

After that frustrating phone call, I sat back in my chair and reflected for a moment on what had just happened. It felt like a talking attack. I don’t ever want someone to feel that way when he or she is with me. While I am definitely a better listener than my mom, I absolutely have my work cut out for me.

There’s Time

I still have some deep seeded habits like wanting to tell people my parallel story or offer advice. What I have noticed in my practiced listening is that there is time for my stories, but I need to provide a space for others to share their stories first. It’s like holding the door open for someone. You don’t hold it open to then push past him or her and go through the doorway.

Part of me always feels like there is a time limit on things, like the opportunity to share my “hilarious story” is a short time period and I may miss it. Lately I realized that my story doesn’t always matter to the conversation, and the more I listen the more I realize how unrelated my first story may have been.

Focused Listening

Slowly I’m also noticing my attention span for truly listening to improve. Clearly, I am of the “ADD Generation” with all of our fast technology, short video clips and 140 character updates. I can be easily distracted at times and wander off in my mind. However, when I listen to someone with my whole self it feels better – the conversation feels complete and more meaningful.

This was more of a stream of consciousness rant than a blog post, but consider it a check-in on my 2014 resolution progress. Thank you to all my friends who love me no matter how much I talk. Looking back, I know that you are the few whom I made time and space to listen to (even when I wasn’t practicing it).

A Clever Little Cartoon About Listening

Looking Ahead into 2014

“It was tumultuous, it was crazy, but I would not trade it for anything.” Colin Quinn

That is how I feel about 2013, and I know I”m not alone. Many of my friends and family had a similarly challenging year filled with change and transitions. While it was difficult, the events of 2013 were part of the larger journey we continue along this year. As I reflect and “prepare” for the year ahead, I’m thinking about three big things:

What are my priorities this year? What are the goals associated with those priorities? What systems am I putting in place to assure that I achieve those goals?

Priorities

  • Career – I am focusing on my marketing/writing work primarily with just one company, but how does that affect my bigger dreams of creating a business to help the creative class?
  • Finance – Money smarts and activity are getting more attention this year.
  • Love – Last year I was lucky to start the year off by meeting an incredible guy. Throughout the year I had moments of not giving him enough of my focus or energy. This year he will get the best of me.
  • Friends – I worked on my interpersonal skills and being a good listener in 2013, so I want to give that additional attention and deepen my existing relationships.

Goals

  • Create a plan for balancing my paying work with my business dreams
  • Get more involved in the music community in Austin
  • Develop a more strategic way to handle my money and investments
  • Learn more about finance and investing
  • Be a great listener

Systems

  • Once a week for a minimum of 1 hour (on Sunday mornings) I will set aside time to work on my business dreams. This can be in the form of a meeting with someone in the industry or just research.
  • Begin taking voice lessons 1-2 times a month. After 3 months of practice, begin teaching voice lessons again.
  • I am signed up for a 4 week class titled Investing for Beginners, and I’ll continue with my Women’s Investing Group meetings every month to further my knowledge.
  • I will create an updated budget that includes expenditures as well as projected income. The first draft of this budget must be complete by January 12th, and the finalized budget by the end of February.
  • Once a day take time to fully listen to someone tell a story – giving my complete attention, not interrupting with comments, asking minimal follow-up questions, not getting distracted by my own thoughts that relate, and using simple body language to confirm to my speaker that I am listening.

Goals and Systms Checklist 2014