Monday, January 09, 2006

What Did You Just Say?

We all know the classic amusing explanation of why you should not assume, because it makes an "A** of U and Me", but assumptions can be much more serious. An assumption can make way for hurt feelings, misconceptions, and resentments. When we make assumptions we completely de-emphasize another person's feelings for the sake of filling in the blanks that exist in our own minds.

Why do we make assumptions? Assumptions occur when we do not have a clear picture of what the other person is trying to say, or when we do not understand their actions. How can we eliminate the need to make assumptions? The answer is, by fully listening and asking questions. The average person does not "fully" listen when they are being spoken to. They are thinking of what they want to say next, what must be done, the task that they were performing before the person interrupted them, or a multitude of other things. But the fact remains, that they are not fully engaged in a conversation. I'm going to use a classic cliché. The husband is watching a football game on television; his wife walks in and decides to hold a conversation with him. He "Yes Dear's" her, but in reality his attention is on the game and he has not heard a single word she has said. She realizes that he is not paying her any attention and walks away upset. He was clearly NOT fully engaged in their conversation. He could have asked her nicely to speak with him after the game, he also could have taken his attention away from the game by turning it off for the duration of their conversation, or his wife could have waited to approach him until after the game. Any of these solutions would have helped them avoid hurt feelings.

Why are questions important? Questions allow us to eliminate the assumptions. But if we are not fully listening, we will not know the right questions to ask. Questions help clear up any miscommunication. With all of our differences, it is no wonder that what we mean and what we say may not be what someone else hears. A simple, "Do you mean...?" could help a great deal. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Questions let others know that we really were paying attention while they were speaking. Everyone likes to feel as though they are being valued. One little question could make all the difference in someone's day.

4 Tips for a Fully Engaged Conversation Free from Assumptions:

  1. Just Listen
    Don't think of possible responses or questions while the person is speaking. Don't interrupt. Never interrupt while they are speaking and don't try to solve the problem until they are done detailing it.
  2. Be Loving
    Don't pass judgment. Listen with love and acceptance. An opinion or behavior that is different is what makes each of us unique.
  3. Be Available
    Be fully present with your whole heart, mind and spirit. If you cannot do this, wait until you can. You will both benefit.
  4. Ask Questions
    Once you have finished listening, ask questions to make sure you fully understand the situation. If you "think" that you understand, ask questions until you "know" that you do.

This week, take note of your conversations and see how well you fully listen. Make it a point to only listen when you can be fully engaged, and re-schedule conversations if you have to. Determine if you are asking enough questions to overcome the natural need within to make assumptions. Your conversations will have much more meaning to both participants. You will have all of the information necessary to offer help or advice, and the person that you are conversing with will feel that they were important enough to you to have your full attention. It will be a mutually enlightened conversation.

To your continued success!

Eva Gregory, master coach, speaker and author of The Feel Good Guide To Prosperity has instructed thousands on the Laws of Attraction in person, on the radio and in dozens of teleconference training seminars and programs. She is the author of several books and e-books and has co-developed several telephone-based and internet-based training courses on the Laws of Attraction. Her most popular program to date is her Leading Edge Living One Year Success Program. Eva is regularly featured on radio and in the media and is a recognized authority on the Laws of Attraction. To learn more about her products and services, visit Leading Edge Coaching.

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