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7 Simple Things You Can Do to Listen Better
People need to be heard. I don’t care if you’ve got your degree at Harvard or you’ve never picked up a book in your life. We all have value. That’s why I think it is so great to talk about how we can listen to eachother better. Someday I will write a book about the power of listening, but for today I want to share with you 6 simple things you can do to listen better.
- Understand the Why
When I decided to study counseling/ psychology, I thought I would be a fantastic therapist. I legitimately thought I had all the answers. However, this is exactly the opposite of what makes counseling helpful. Dr. Leaf is an amazing therapist who writes on the subject of depression, suicide and loneliness. Her biggest solution to the issue of loneliness is listening. She says, “Take the time to listen to people’s stories. Everyone has a unique story and something to share—something you can learn from! Be sure not to just hear, but try to listen to people without judgement.” The first way to listen better is to understand the why behind hearing a person out – You could be saving a life.
2. Repeat Back What the Person is Saying
Somedays, especially when I wake up really early for my job, I have a hard time focusing on what a person is saying. This happens to me with my husband all the time. He will say something and it will go in one ear and out the other. When this starts to happen, I have trained myself to repeat back what the person is saying. It feels like a game. How well can you summarize what the other person in front of you is saying. The person you are listening to will feel heard and listened to.
3. Put down the phone.
This is all we have to say here. Distracted listening is not listening. John and I went bowling on the day of our anniversary. He politely asked me to put my phone down because he wanted to have conversations with me. So cute! Yes, babe I can put my phone down for you. <3
4. Look someone in the eye.
This small thing creates trust. Looking a person straight in the eyes will help you pick up on nonverbal messages a person may be sending.
5. Wait until they are done talking.
Actually pause before you decide to keep the conversation moving. Let a person breath. If you are constantly interrupting you are sending messages that you don’t care or that what you have to say is better or more important than what they have to say.
6. Ask Questions
I love this because good questions are not accusatory. Good questions are investigating. It is so much harder than you would think. Have you ever spent a ton of time with a person who you had good conversations with? Or you felt filled and energized when you walked away from a conversation? This is probably because THAT person is good at asking YOU questions. I don’t know about you, but I WANT to be that person. I am nowhere near being that person, but the way to get there is evaluate how much time you are talking about yourself vs. how many questions you are asking. Questions are the best way to make someone feel known and loved.
If you want to have better interactions with the person who is hard to get along with at work, if you want to show your significant other you care, if you want to be a better friend… listen. Listening to a person allows will show they are cared about, important, valued, loved, respected, and understood. Who knows, by listening you could save a life.
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