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The Anatomy of Genuine Listening From a Traditional Chinese Character

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genuine listening
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The oxford dictionary defines “listen” as “giving one’s attention to a sound.While this definition captures an essential part of the definition, it oversimplifies the listening process. Listening involves giving! Giving a lot more than mere attention, but undivided attention.

Listening involves giving our heart, eyes, effort, love and so much more. The process of listening is so complex that no single definition can fully capture what really happens when one listens. As a result, from a single Traditional Chinese character, I will show that “genuine listening” involves more than auditory perception.

listen

(“聽“ pronounced “ting” ) which literally means “listen” is a phono-semantic compound made up of several distinctive parts, each carrying meaning that represents what we actually “give” when involved in the listening process. As can be seen from the character, the word “耳” which means “ear” is just part of a whole. Listening involves more than auditory perception. Genuine listening happens when instead of saying “I am all ears” we say “I am all present.

Genuine listening means giving our heart (心 – xin)

People come to us, because they need to be understood. Listening to them with empathy could be the greatest gift we will ever give them. Being heard and understood feels good because it is connected to our deepest sense of self-worth. Listening to someone with empathy means caring and acknowledging.

Empathetic listening can’t unfold when we are overwhelmed by worries. The golden rule is to be self-aware and to never get into a conversation when we’re not emotionally prepared. Any attempt to get into a conversation when we don’t feel like it will come across insincere and can’t be concealed.

Listening with empathy gives the other person a chance to unfold as they are and to fully express themselves. This meaning is conveyed by the character (心 pronounced “xin” meaning“Heart”).

“The most basic of human need is to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”- Ralph Nichols

Genuine listening means maintaining eye-contact (目)

When engaged in a conversation, words represent a fraction of the meaning that is conveyed. A lot more information is transmitted nonverbally. Albert Mehrabian, a pioneer researcher of body language in the 1950’s, found that the total impact of a message is about 7 percent verbal, 38 percent vocal and 55 percent nonverbal. Since then, many researchers have replicated his research and found consistent results.

Respectful eye-contact is the agent that dissolves the boundary between the verbal and nonverbal. It brings a pure quality of receptivity as it opens the window to content and context of the message. Rid yourself of all visual distractions, open the window to your soul to person talking to you. This is the meaning of the “eyes” part of the Chinese character “目”(pronounced “mu”) which literally means “eyes.”

Listening means giving your undivided attention as you would a king (王)

When was the last time you gave your undivided attention to someone you were talking to? The challenge here is to bring our full attention to the person whom we are talking to. Listening with undivided attention means do away with external distractions as well as with internal distractions.

Oftentimes we listen with our attention focused on how we are going to respond or refute what the other person is saying. Genuine listening is different, it involves listening with curiosity, compassion, and with the true purpose of understanding. Imagine being invited to a royal feast. Treat the other person as a king, your guest of honor, because they are. This is what these Chinese characters mean (pronounced “yi” meaning “one,” and 王 pronounced, “wang” meaning “king”).

“Hearing is listening to what is said. Listening is hearing what isn’t said.” – Simon Sinek

Genuine listening assumes everyone is whole ()

The evidence of fingerprinting conveys an important truth that seems to elude us most of the time: each of us is unique. There are no “two” individuals with the same fingerprint. If we hold this simple fact upfront, we shall become more tolerant. We shall stop using our perceptual filters to judge others when difference of opinions emerges.

We become fully appreciative of the other, understanding that their uniqueness and wholeness are to be celebrated. This new paradigm shift will allow us to be whole again, and consequently make those around us feel the same. After all, if you see yourself as an individual worthy of being understood for who you are, why not do the same to others? This is the meaning conveyed by the last Chinese character 十 (shi), which means complete.

Imagine a world where everyone felt heard and understood. Wouldn’t you want to live in a such a world? I would! May these simple yet powerfully transformative principles inspire you to help create a culture built around empathy and love.

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

My name is Bachir Bastien. Being the sparkle that will ignite the fire of possibilities in as many people as possible is how I define myself. I was born and raised in Haiti by my mother. My life has been a struggle since conception. I decided that I was going to use my stories to empower others. These experiences may have been lemons, but I can use them to make sweet lemonade. This is what I have decided to do. That became my life purpose. My first name Bachir means messenger of good news in Arabic; I have been doing just that for the past two years here in Taiwan through articles, workshops, seminars and speeches. I have seen students changing behaviors, increase in confidence, watched students conquer stage fright, etc. This in turn gives me the unwavering certitude that I can empower more people.

Life

Don’t Want To Feel Like A Failure Anymore? Stop Doing These 6 Things

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It’s pretty annoying isn’t it? All those great and accomplished people telling you that FAILURE is a necessity on your way to success. Yeah, that’s easy for them to say; they’re already ‘on the other side’! You on the other hand, are still struggling all day everyday to get your business lifted off the ground and are really not that sure if you’re indeed going to make it.

There’s that little voice in your head that keeps telling you that you don’t have the stuff to make it all happen. Not now and not ever. You feel like a failure…it’s holding you back and you don’t know how to deal with it. Well you could do yourself a favor and start dealing with it by doing the following things:

1. Stop Denying You Feel Like A Failure

Telling yourself things are going great when they’re not is one of the biggest, though most useless, coping mechanisms human beings deploy in rough times. Common denial signals among entrepreneurs: trying to regain more control by working even more hours and on the other side compensating this by letting go of all this control by partying and drinking way too hard.

What you’re doing is denying yourself the opportunity to actually feel what’s going on and acknowledge the problem; that both you and your business are in a bad place. Without acknowledging it, it’ll be pretty difficult to actually STOP feeling it. And remember, just because you feel like a failure, this does not mean that you indeed ARE a failure!

2. Stop Making It Bigger Than it Really Is

This is one of those other ‘fun’ things human beings do; we blow things way out of proportion in our heads! In business, when you lose that big client you’ve been working on for weeks, it feels like it’s the end of the world. You start doubting yourself, your strategy, your entire business model right up to the point where you barely sleep because you’re working on pivoting the whole thing.

But what if that customer simply didn’t have the money to go for your service anyway? Or what if they just decided to go for someone who is cheaper but who offers less quality? Does that mean there’s something wrong with YOU? Or that this was the ONLY customer out there and that you’re now doomed forever?

Of course not, it simply means that THIS CUSTOMER wasn’t a match. It’s a bit like dating actually…So if you take this into consideration, could it be that you just feel like a failure instead of really not succeeding in that what you want to at this point in time?

3. Stop Thinking You’re The Only One Who Feels Like This

You’re not! With the possible exception of the true sociopaths, that feeling you’re feeling is very normal to EVERYONE. It might not seem like it on the outside – because people don’t like to acknowledge this remember – but I can guarantee you that it’s true. But unlike 99% of the world’s population, YOU’RE not going to let this feeling stop you in your tracks. Are you?

4. Stop Thinking You’re Supposed To Be Superhuman

In fact, it’s very likely that you’re already doing, learning and succeeding at WAY more than most other people are. But for entrepreneurs, somehow, that never seems to be enough. You don’t just want to be successful after a few years of hard work (which is normal). You want to be successful after only a few months. Because you’re special…or at least you think you are…

Well, here’s the truth: you ARE special! But…it’s just not very likely that you’re one of those – very very rare – entrepreneurial superstars that – seemingly – just added some hot water and got instant business success as a result.

5. Stop Being So Incredibly Stubborn

Entrepreneurs are stubborn…almost by default. It’s what makes them push forward in the hardest of times. But…if you’re not doing the right things right you might just be hammering a square peg through a round hole. Which will only add to that frustrated feeling you’re already having. So why not stop being so stubborn for a moment, stop hammering away on that what obviously is not working and ask for help?

No matter who you ask – a business mentor or coach, a befriended entrepreneur – someone with a neutral perspective on you and our business will be very likely to see what’s going on with a lot more clarity than you can and can guide you to a place that will feel a whole lot more comfortable.

6. Stop Being Afraid Of Failure

I know, I know, you’ve heard this a million times before and you wouldn’t be in this pickle if you could do this. Right? I’m right there with ya!

But, if you get really rational about it, what’s the worst that could happen?

  • You might have to get a ‘real’ job for a while and start over on the side;
  • You might not be able to afford your rent anymore…but with Airbnb on the 1 hand and couchsurfing on the other, you should be able to work it out somehow;
  • You’ll have all the more experience to start over a whole lot faster;
  • You’ll be no less respected by anyone because it’s clear you gave it your all;
  • In a few years, when you’re an established and supersuccessful entrepreneur you’ll also have a cool failure story to tell;
  • None of your limbs will fall off;

Now that’s not too bad for a plan B is it? Failure is such a negative word. And the associated feeling is terrible and numbing. But really…how is giving it your all and not succeeding really the same as failing? Shouldn’t the definition of failure not be along the lines of ‘not even trying’ or ‘giving up when it gets hard’?

In other words: stop beating yourself up over this!

There’s really no need to feel like a failure at all because you’re sticking your neck out, you’re trying to make a difference and you’re still moving upward on that treacherous entrepreneurial mountain.

And that…is what success REALLY is.

Those Who Failed Their Way To Success

Quotes To Live By:

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want” – Richard Yates

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

“We are all failures – at least the best of us are.” – J.M. Barrie

“Success is stumbling form failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill

“Don’t let success go to your head and failure to your heart” – Will Smith

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Life

Why You Never Have Enough Time and What You Need to Do About It

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Has this ever happened to you? You had an assignment, and the deadline was far away. You didn’t work on it much, but in the back of your mind, that insistent little voice was always whispering, “I gotta get this assignment done.” (more…)

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Life

6 Unusual Exercises to Effectively Increase Your Creativity Faster Than Ever

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Although a vast majority of people think that creativity is something you are born with, the truth is a bit different. While we cannot deny that you need natural talent to a certain extent, stimulating creative thinking is indeed a matter of practice. If you give this thought a bit of thinking, you can realize pretty quickly that even the most fascinating and creative minds have faced the lack of creativity at some point in their lives. (more…)

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Life

3 Psychological Facts That Can Unleash Your Inner Power

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Some people will achieve great things. Others won’t. But why is that? We’re all just “talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe,” as Joe Rogan puts it. So why do some “talking monkeys” build 7 or 8 figure businesses, travel the world, and live the life of their dreams while the rest of us… well, wish we were living the life of our dreams. (more…)

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