How to be a good listener

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Good listening skills are a must in any relationship. But what does being a good listener look like in real life?

Here are some simple tips to boost your listening game.

Keep your cool this holiday season

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The holidays are here, y’all.

The best thing about the holidays is spending time with family. But sometimes being around our families brings out some old patterns and anxieties we thought we had dealt with.

Unless you’re in a Christmas Hallmark movie, you might find yourself slipping back into some feelings you don’t like when you get around family.

Nobody pushes your buttons like your family, am I right?

And you know before you ever get there who pushes your buttons the most, don’t you?

Well, you can’t control your family.

Sorry.

But you can control how you react and what (and who) you’ll allow to mess with you.

You can set some boundaries so you can enjoy your holiday experience. Cuz you deserve that.

Here are a few ideas.

1) Have a plan.

Decide ahead of time how long you’ll stay at a family event. You know yourself and you know the point where you start getting too snarky with Aunt Martha.

There’s no rule that says you have to stay the whole time. Set a timeframe you’re comfortable with and that will let you pull the most good out of the experience.

Then you can walk away feeling good about your time.

Now, don’t announce it when you get there that you’re only staying two hours. And please don’t make a big deal about it when you’re ready to go (even though others may make a big deal about it).

You’re a grown up, you don’t owe them an explanation. Just a “thank you” for a wonderful time.

Part of having good boundaries is knowing how to make decisions for yoself without explaining yoself.

If you’re staying with family and can’t just leave, well, admittedly this is harder to do. Determine where you can retreat to when you’re ready for some space.

Bedroom, bathroom, that little space under the stairs. Whatevs.

2) Pick your battles.

Try, try, try to set aside your need to be right about anything or everything and whatever’s in between.

You probably already have a good idea of what’s going to get under your skin. Now, that doesn’t mean you allow people to be truly hurtful. That’s not what I’m saying.

But do you really need to answer and debate every annoying thing that bothers you? You’re not five anymore.

For some reason it’s so easy to feel defensive around our family. We want to answer for all the reasons why we’re doing this or not doing that.

When you’re ready to go there, hit that pause button and simply ask yourself this: Does my impending response advance the relationship in any meaningful way? (I would actually recommend this technique in most of your interactions, not just during the holidays.)

If that sounds like “letting some things roll off your back,” then you get an A because that’s kinda what it is.

Let it go!

After all, the holidays have such a short timeframe compared to the rest of your year.

You can be right when you get home.

3) Focus on what you do enjoy.

If it’s the food, the family bonfire, the weird neighbor, or that cool cousin you don’t get to see too much, then focus on those things.

Be proactive and engage the people and things you know you will enjoy. This will help the annoying things feel more like just noise than the main event.

Look around you and focus on the joy that’s already there.

4) Move around.

I know everybody says this but for crying out loud, get some exercise in all this somewhere!

Not after Thanksgiving dinner necessarily, you know, because of the carb coma.

But take some time for a walk or a bike ride, pull out your old pogo sticks from the garage, whatever.

It will help reset your focus a bit and get some blood flowing to the frontal lobe of your brain.

This is the region of the brain that controls your planning and responses, and it will keep you from going off on Aunt Martha.

Or you could bring that favorite cousin on a walk so you can talk about everybody else.

5) Remember, it’s not about you.

We all get triggered a bit by being in familiar surroundings, and we all revert back to patterns that we may not like.

The best thing about the holidays is the focus on being together and finding joy in spite of our differences and past annoyances.

Make the holidays about serving the needs of others and not yourself.

Focus on what you can bring to the table to make your holidays enjoyable.

Happy Monday! Now go add some value…

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“Whatever you do, add value!”

Okeedokee.

But what does that mean? And how do I know I’m adding value?

A few pithy thoughts on the matter.

Four tools to stay resilient

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When life gets in the way, we sometimes bail on the basics that keep us physically and mentally healthy.

This toolkit, designed to deal with the pressures of anxiety and depression, is a great way to stay resilient in the face of day-to-day life stressors. When things get wackadoo, it’s worth asking yourself which one of these tools may have fallen by the wayside.

The tools are simple and easy to implement in small ways each day. None of them will surprise you, but adding just one of them to your day can make a big difference.

Watch this and let me know what other things you might add to the toolkit!

#alwaysbelearnin