Become a Better Listener with these 5 Skills

And even better?

Become a better listener with your Ho‘ohana Community…

“[This] makes me think of my husband who is training to be a therapist. I can see when he is tuned into his listening mode and it changes everything about the way we communicate. It makes me get to the kernel of what is bothering me sooner; without the exchanging of ideas, my own are allowed to emerge.”
Emma Newman, responding to a posting at Joyful Jubilant Learning called Listen More to Communicate Better, written by Phil Gerbyshak

Hmm. Do you have a listening mode you fall in and out of, like Emma’s husband does? Has it become recognizable to others you have conversations with frequently, so they can easily tell when you will be a better receiver than usual, or even a different receiver? As for Emma, I would bet that “it changes everything” about the way others communicate with you too.

Im listening... cant you tell?
I'm listening... can't you tell? You trying to tell me these ears might not be enough? Really?

I propose to you, that grooming a listening mode is akin to grooming any other skill: It is something you can proactively cultivate, something which could prove exceptionally useful to you (like learning to see with your ears). Your listening mode enhances your approachability, so you can more skillfully attract and handle insightful conversations. In fact, a skillful listener is one who turns every conversation they have into one of interesting new insights.

“A receptive ear gains more love and respect than a silver tongue ”“ don’t you think?”
Brad Shorr, within the same Joyful Jubilant Learning conversation

How about if we work on cultivating our listening skills together?

It is November 30th in some places of the world already, and thus as our Challenge Day 1, your November 30th will be the final day you can sign up for the 5-day challenge I am coaching within the Ruzuku alpha (when you sign up, you will be asked to note your time zone).

Are you in?

Still thinking about it and hoping for more of a preview? Okay… keep reading….

What are the skills we could be working on as we improve our listening?

I think there are several. Listening ranks way up there as a skill we can each work on our entire lives through, for every time communication shifts and changes, the way we listen must respond, shifting and changing as well. Just think about how this has happened in recent years with social media — there is definitely a smart way to listen on Twitter (5 Twitter Tips for Leading), on LinkedIn and other social networking platforms.

A few of the listening skills which immediately come to mind are patience, reading body language, and learning the art of interruption. Then there is that healthy respect for silence, for you can listen to silence just as you can listen to sound; noise is just one kind of signal transmitted in communications.

A skill a day to keep the noise at bay…

As your Ruzuku Guide for the alpha, I have picked 5 specific listening skills for us to work on, one per day. I have chosen these 5 in light of the favorable peer-to-peer coaching environment Ruzuku offers: We will take advantage of the Ruzuku alpha while we optimize our learning. In contrast, you can enhance skills like increasing your patience, or taking better notice of body language in other self-taught or localized team environments.

“Take 5” means what, exactly?

“Take 5” is a language cue carried over to this challenge from The Daily 5 Minutes. It is a known invitation in the workplace environments practicing Managing with Aloha organizational culture norms. When you ask someone if they will “Take 5?” with you, you are asking for a 5-minute conversation ending in a win-win agreement, a conversation you are ready to give them as a gift of listening.

Therefore, our Become a Better Listener challenge can really give managers who wish to learn the D5M a significant edge!

As I explained, we will not impose the D5M conversation on this challenge specifically, however we will frame it within your existing conversations. Since we only have 5 days to work with, we will also keep our focus on the learning to be gained within one-on-one conversations. This particular challenge will not address group discussions and passive listening (getting the most out of podcasts, audio books, that sort of thing.)

Here is a preview of the 5 Skills I have chosen:

Skill 1: Monday/ Learn to broadcast the signals of your Listening Mode.
Skill 2: Tuesday/ Converse to write a Relationship Story.
Skill 3: Wednesday/ Use well-placed Questions to Eliminate the Vague.
Skill 4: Thursday/ Teach Your Speakers to help you listen better.
Skill 5: Friday/ Make Conversation the Subject Matter.

Here’s how our Ruzuku Listening Challenge will work

When you click in to the Ruzuku alpha each morning I will have posted more about the day’s skill, explaining it more fully. Your challenge is to apply the skill via the conversations you have that day with others; you take the skill for a test drive. You then return to the alpha to post about your results, so you can gain feedback from me and from others there: We will all be working on the same thing so we can compare notes. Thus you learn exponentially — from your experience, and from the experience of others seeking to apply the same skill in the same window of time.

For any who may have been in our first Ruzuku alpha, this will differ from the Daily 5 Minutes challenge in that you will not be asked to frame a certain kind of conversation. The skills we will work on are anticipated to be those you can apply to the conversations you normally have within the course of your day as usual. You may need to initiate more conversations in the week to come (and hopefully you will have fun with this and you will want to), particularly if you are one who normally does a great deal of solo work or you work from home. However you will not be teaching others any defined conversation parameters — any conversations will do, and the more variety the better. For instance I have already heard from a few participants who are interested in comparing their virtual listening skills with their habits when speaking with others in person.

Are you ready to get started?

Just click on the badge below to be whisked to Ruzuku.

Remember: We all start together on your Monday, November 30th, and end together this Friday, December 4th. This sign-up will close for you by midnight of your own time zone on November 30th.

I know the learning will be rich, but I fully intend to have a lot of fun with this too!

See you there,

Take 5 to Learn 5 Skills and Gain (at least) 5 Benefits:

Take 5 Listening ChallengeThe “Take 5” Listening Challenge: Daily 5-minute Conversations focused on Becoming a Better Listener. Sign up here.

This challenge is free during this time we remain in the alpha stages of our Ruzuku offering. We will begin to charge for these programs shortly after we enter beta testing, so sign up now and give yourself the Christmas presents of peer-to-peer coaching in a terrific web-based learning environment. You will:

  1. Learn 5 Listening Skills, one each day
  2. Simultaneously improve the quality of your conversations within the process of this learning.
  3. Test your self-discipline as a lifelong learner within a self-coaching expectation.
  4. Be audience and peer-coach for others who are taking on the challenge in the same window of time.
  5. End the challenge with a sequential learning intention focused on the additional listening skills you wish to now pursue having this foundation.

Photo Credit: African Fennec Fox by Yvonne in Willowick Ohio on Flickr

Living Mahalo with my Dailies

It is Stephen’s Day

I have an annual ritual for November 28th. It is the birthday of someone now in heaven who was exceptionally special to me, and so in his honor I call this Stephen’s Day. When Stephen died, I decided that I needed to commemorate the day somehow, so I would keep remembering and working on some of the things he had taught me to be grateful for during all the time he blessed my days. Having his birthday fall at the end of November, a month I have always associated with the diligent, focused practice of Mahalo (appreciation, gratitude, and thankfulness) seemed to be an added affirmation.

That affirmation has now become gift. Living within mahalo is living within thankfulness for each element which makes your life precious to you.

KÄ“ia Manawa

Stephen was someone who could focus on the present moment clearly and with perceptive intensity, able to see the everything existing in the here and now (he was a great toe tickler :). In Hawai‘i we call this kÄ“ia manawa, living in moments which seize the day with both hands, with heart, mind, gut and soul. KÄ“ia la; today you own the day.

Stephen was someone who never looked behind him, easily letting things go and leaving the past behind. What was over was done. He was also someone who was never in a rush to have tomorrow come, fully knowing that a single day is never long enough for us mere humans to milk it fully of all its possibility. However have no hesitation or doubt: We are here to try. And try he did; Stephen lived his too-short life in a joyous way that made everyone else feel lucky to be on earth with him.

However Stephen was not obsessive about whatever he chose to do either; in fact, he had relaxing down to an art form. His was a life of contentment. When you live in Mahalo as Stephen did, you die with no regrets because you never feel you have missed anything.

My Dailies

This is my annual ritual: On November 28th I rewrite my Dailies for the next year to come, starting from scratch and letting my spirit’s intention do any remembering of carry-over necessities. My Dailies fill a simple list on a single sheet of paper, and I print a dozen copies, putting them wherever I may need them to be readily accessible for me in the coming weeks until memory and habit-building kick in. The electronic copy goes on my calendar as a daily recurrence so I read it whenever I first switch online.

On My Dailies is a listing of everything I would want to do each and every day if I could possibly fit them all in.

This is not an exhaustive list of everything I do each day, and I do not duplicate the business-of-life stuff on my calendar or my family time unless I am creating some new habit: It is a list to direct my attention on a daily basis to better train it, getting actual attention to match up with desired Ho‘ohana intention. Whenever those “what shall I do next?” or “how can I fill this found time?” questions pop into mind I look at my Dailies and can simply choose something.

From year to year my Dailies have gotten either longer or more detailed and ambitious. I do stick to my one-page-only rule, but frankly, I have never had a day where I did everything on it. If you add up all the minutes, it probably isn’t even possible.

But here’s the rub: Without my Dailies, I probably wouldn’t accomplish half the things I do each day. I would not manifest as many possibilities as I do, and I would miss opportunities I now see more clearly because they seem to somehow conspire with the universe swirling around me. Possibilities present themselves to me, seeping into my attentions and intention. Looking at the Dailies I have just now written, I usually do achieve the first six at minimum, and when I make it further down the list, wow. It’s a great feeling.

Another fringe benefit has been that having my Dailies written in late November has completely replaced any desire to jump on the New Years resolution bandwagon: By January 1st I am well on my way within the new habits I have chosen to award my attentions to.

My Mahalo for a brand new year to come

Here are the Stephen’s Day Dailies I settled on for this year, as I had the grace and peace of the Thanksgiving holiday to get a jump in them. You may recognize a few influences, and I’ve added in some explanation and links for you. Eventually my own copy of this gets whittled down to a single index card with just the words in bold. Habit creation takes care of the rest, cementing my initial intentions into them.

  1. Stretch and Exercise: In past years this has said “Run” or “Walk” but I have recently discovered that these past loves are adversely affecting my spine in a significant way, and I must change my habits. Yet I must have a replacement of some kind, knowing that without good health the rest of this list doesn’t matter, and personally it affects my head space (the quality of my thinking). So developing a new fitness habit is a significant learning for me, so much so it tops my list.
  2. D5M: Do the Daily 5 Minutes. As you all know, I am currently championing a rediscovery of the D5M for us in two Ruzuku challenges to come, and I am fully aware our successful prospects start with me walking my own talk about it. Though the D5M has long been my habit, it is back on my Dailies to trigger my thinking about virtual opportunities as opposed to face-to-face ones.
  3. Ho‘ohana Projects: Complete my day’s work as planned (whatever I’ve calendared in my Strong Week Plan/ per my Weekly Review): Am I attending to my projects or not? There’s usually a good 4-5 hours of work here per day, and in my case it’s a mixture of personal and professional: You have to choose the right work to begin with, and that is where the value of Ho‘ohana comes into play so beautifully with its personal hidden meaning, and also as a Wow Project container.  To ho‘ohana is to have resolve and determination, and to seek mastery with personal efforts of your own deliberate, thoughtful choice.
  4. Work your Alaka‘i ABCs: I loved doing this Language of Intention exercise last week, and I want to see how I can continue to incorporate this listing I had come up with into my Ho‘ohana and Strong Week Planning. Writing that list jolted me, and it super-charged my attentions in a very good way. It was an energy burst I will seek to continue sparking.
  5. Connect to Sense of Place: Get outdoors and feel where you are. Appreciate it. This is about wherever I might be, and not just when home on Hawai‘i island. Having this on my list will help tickle my toes, and ensure I do not miss things like this sunset seen Thanksgiving Day evening:
  6. Sunset Flares

  7. Write to Goal: Writing does so much for my overall sense of well-being. There is simply no denying it, and I would not want to! I have my morning pages, my blogging, my gratitude journal, my coaching and curriculum product design, my correspondence and preferred ways to reach out to others — there is so much that writing enables and influences for me, and yet I have to make directed time for it, organize it and channel it purposefully.
  8. Slow down, Stop and Savor: This has now been on my list for a few years, but worded in different ways. In 2007 I wrote, “Believe in your biology and cherish your brain” and  my study of Daniel H. Pink’s  A Whole New Mind has been an added influence in the last year, particularly with the elements of play, story, and design he speaks of. Having this on my Dailies coaches me to slow down at some point because otherwise, I tend to work like a bull in a china shop. I need to stop whatever I am doing more frequently and mind-sweep, seeking to respect every thought, and write everything down. Get quiet, capture and savor. Deliberate and decide using the current filters I might be favoring (like Pink’s and others).
  9. Listen as the way I Read: This is my self-coaching to listen to a few book chapters or podcasts via my Audible Library. One of my current goals (trying this yet again) is to learn of any auditory capacity I am not using. By nature I am highly visual and kinesthetic” one result is that MWA is still not offered in audio” shameful!
  10. ‘ÅŒpala ‘ole: Literally, rubbish be gone! I am trying to clean something or declutter for at least a good (i.e. highly physical) 20-minute’s time each and every single day. Material freedom, and discovering how little I can make do with has been one of my fascinations for a while now, and the more virtual my business becomes, the more I find I am enjoying (and needing) the physical exertion of my ‘ÅŒpala ‘ole movements.
  11. Ma‘alahi: The persuasion toward calm contentment. What complexity did the day reveal that I can streamline and make more simple? I truly want to stop any fluffery and continually add to my Stop Doing List, shedding the less important for the more meaningful. What “should-ing” or busywork did the day reveal, keeping me from true accomplishment? Why did I do it, and how can I stop it, particularly when it was draining my energies instead of boosting them? How can Less be More?
  12. Attention to Strong Living: Reflect at day’s end for more accurate Strength Statements: What made me feel strong? This one is the counterpart to Ma‘alahi addressing my weaknesses in my Hawaiian way, with a more studied practice of what Marcus Buckingham teaches within his strengths revolution about capitalizing on our strengths. His latest book is called Find your Strongest Life, and was written for women, and I want to internalize it: Me first, then perhaps it will filter into my coaching. We shall see: Counterintuitively, Buckingham advocates a deliberate imbalance in the tactics we employ when living a strong life, since “Attention amplifies everything” (and I certainly agree with him there!)
  13. Nānā i ke kumu: Look to your source. Reflect at day’s end for Spirit: Did I live my signature story of my  Aloha? Each and every year the writing of my Dailies reveals a Hawaiian value to me I know I need to recommit to. Nānā i ke kumu has been speaking to me for weeks now, and there was no question it would be the one.

Stephen died in 1977, and my first Dailies were written that same year. Since then, they’ve provided me with a kind of annual chronicle of what was important to me each year. For instance, the years my children were born are all about my learning to be a mother, first for one child, and then for two. The year came that I taught them both to do their own dailies; this was such a great way to stop them from saying, “Mom, I’m bored!” on those long summer days! As they did with Stephen’s death, my Dailies have pulled me out of several rough patches when I lost other people who had been so important in my life, like my dad.

What do you think about this exercise? Are you game for adding Stephen’s Day to your calendar too?

Try it this weekend:  Your Dailies are completely up to you.

This planning practice is Mahalo in sweet action: Live within thankfulness for each element which makes your life precious to you, and commit your intention to doing more of it. Focus your attentions on your energy boosters, and away from your energy drainers.

Wa‘a na Alaka‘i Nalu

What could be on your Dailies for the coming year?

If you work on a list of your own now, you too can be sailing along with me, feeling you have made a significant start come New Years Day. Will you incorporate Mahalo, Nānā i ke kumu, or another value currently speaking to you in a louder and more insistent voice?

Perhaps it isn’t “sailing along” which appeals to you, as much as the thought of burning your boats (I keep thinking about that one too.)

Listen to your Muse, for he/she has your well-being in mind, as does your Aloha spirit.

Black Friday our Talking Story way

Did you enjoy your Thanksgiving Day? It is a good holiday, isn’t it. I think one of the best things about Thanksgiving is that there is no expectation of gift-giving. We don’t expect to get more, and are simply reminded to appreciate what we already have.

Today, I am one who chooses not to partake in the Black Friday craziness, and have decided my own holiday shopping can wait a few more days. I will contribute my share of dollars to our economy soon, just not today. I am thinking about a gift we can give ourselves and each other, to share in learning virtually instead (our Talking Story way), and I am gearing up for the two challenges we have coming up on Ruzuku. If you missed it, I had posted about them in full detail here (back story, lessons learned from those who participated, plans going forward etc.):
The D5M Ruzuku Report (and 2 New Challenges!)

“True innovators have a mantra: The enemy of the best is the good.
They are constantly daring to make things better.”

—Robin Sharma, The Greatness Guide

Do we dare? Yes we do…

Thus I took some time in the quiet of my early Thanksgiving yesterday morning to update the Daily 5 Minutes resource page we now have here since it serves as our Ruzuku bridge, with a mantra continually scrolling through my brain as coaching: Keep it simple… keep it simple… keep it simple… for it really is:

Ho‘ohana CommunityYou don’t need a bunch of links from me… you just need the desire to learn (the desire being your value-driver of ‘Ike loa, the value of lifelong learning), for you can experience it as we learn it together.

Being part of our Talking Story Ho‘ohana Community is a constant invitation to you, to learn with company, the company of a like-minded community sharing many common goals. Chief among them, is another constant: Our goal to learn behaviors and new habits which align with our personal values.

Today’s message is an encouragement to you. If you have not yet signed up for one or both of the Ruzuku challenges to come, please reconsider. We learned so much in our first round, and this second one seeks to weave in our lessons learned and make it even better. Those who have already participated in a Ruzuku challenge will eagerly tell you how valuable they have been, and how they have helped forge some great peer-to-peer self-coaching relationships.

Here is a reminder on what is coming: I do hope you decide to jump into the learning with us! Another way to look at these two challenges, is stated within another constant goal we share here, to build a powerful Language of Intention:

  1. In the first challenge, “Take 5” will become a natural part of your better-listening vocabulary
  2. In the second challenge, The Daily 5 Minutes will become “D5M-ing” your management style

Thank you for reading today,

1. Starting Monday, November 30th, a 5-day challenge you can take on its own merit, or as a D5M warm-up:

Take 5 Listening ChallengeThe “Take 5” Listening Challenge: Daily 5-minute Conversations focused on Becoming a Better Listener. Sign up here.

You will improve your listening skills in a daily self-coaching focus, seeking to fully value others and learn from them every day for 5 days: 1 new listening conversation each day is required to participate. The challenge will end on Friday, December 4th.

2. Starting Monday, December 7th, a 15-day D5M Habit-builder. This time, we will stick to the playing field we know best, and will be focusing on our efforts exclusively on you as a manager and emerging leader in the workplace setting:

D5M Habit-BuilderThe Daily 5 Minutes Habit-Building Challenge: 15 Days to Build the Manager”²s D5M Conversation Practice in Workplace Communications. Sign up here.

You will practice the Daily 5 Minutes as a giver in your workplace, creating and building your D5M conversation habit as a better manager, and fully valuing another person within your learning process: 1 D5M is required to participate, every day for 15 days. The challenge will end on Monday, December 21st.

Both are still free during this time we remain in the alpha stages of our Ruzuku offering. We will begin to charge for these programs shortly after we enter beta testing, so sign up now and give yourself the Christmas presents of peer-to-peer coaching in a terrific web-based learning environment.


Thank you for being here

Being it is Thursday, I do have an official Thanksgiving Day posting up at Say “Alaka‘i” today, which is called Growing up with our Thanksgiving Mahalo, and I invite you to join the discussion there if you care to.

However no duplication on Talking Story today: This is a day I wanted to keep it more personal here on our mothership, less management-teachy, so I could simply say Mahalo to you as directly as I can. Thank you.

At Morning Blush

Thank you for reading, and for being here. Thank you for commenting when you do, and for sharing my writing with others. Thank you for trying out those things I suggest to you as we learn together, pursuing our mission to reinvent our workplaces for the better, value by value.

Thank you for being the ones who have stuck with me through all my seemingly selfish experimentation as I dropped my value of the month program, stopped sending my email newsletters, and began to fully play online instead, adding different sites too numerous to keep track of and expecting you’d make the web-based adjustments too, regardless of any workplace firewall standing in our way. Thank you for following my links, checking out my Tumblr, Twitter and Flickr, and now, Ruzuku.

I cannot quite explain why blogging nurtures me in the way it does, even during those times when any business conversion from it slows to a mere trickle. I know I write to think, and to clarify what I myself feel I need to learn, but there is more to it than that, a more to it that includes you: It is very important to me that you are here, and that someone else is reading all of this… as I said, I can’t really explain it, but it just is. I know it helps us thrive in the way we learn, and thus, in the way we continue to grow and prosper.

So I like to think it is good for both of us, a healthy win-win within our ever-evolving web-based ecosystem of human exploration. Like Aloha itself, it just is, and need not be explained much more than that.

Ultimately, is it all about business still? I guess so, for all of my Ho‘ohana Publishing remains rooted in that reason for being, and for being birthed in the first place. I believe that business endeavors continue to hold much promise for us and our ‘Imi ola (best possible life), and we need not apologize for them, or shy away from them. However our relationships have flowed from those first rootings in many different ways, blooming within the Aloha and Ho‘ohana we share, and I am profoundly grateful for all of them.

On this Thanksgiving Day, please know how very much I appreciate you, and wish you every blessing.
Mahalo nui loa,

Rosa Say
Rosa Say