MAGIC - Make A Greater Individual Commitment to Whole Hearted Listening

Setting Norms: Listen to Understand, Share the Airtime, Respect

Setting Norms ... this is especially important when you are discussing matters that are jugular. It is always important though if you want to cultivate an environment for real and honest communication to occur.

Listening is a skill. It is the most difficult discipline to acquire and when practiced provides the greatest reward. Listening is hard to do especially if you do not like what you hear.

Ask your self how do you listen now: To your Co-Workers, Friends, Loved Ones, Strangers, on a land line, on a cell phone, in person, or in line? What is your listening body language? Mouth open/ eye to eye/ eating/ leaning/ watching TV/ looking at the computer screen/ reading a book/newspaper/ writing something/ listening with head phones. What is your skill at listening to what is said and what is left unsaid? What body language do you use when you don't want to listen? What body language tells you someone is listening to you?

As we practice a new awareness about "listening" we must remember to allow a person to complete a sentence and a thought without interruption. Listening to understand another human being means not bringing a preconceived notion or bias to the dialog. It means providing a "safe classroom" for everyone; in your homes with family, in your community with neighbors and friends, in your workplace with associates and in your schools with children, faculty and fellow workers. Differences among people can be our strength and our advantage. We need to learn how to utilize our assets by listening to understand.

Share the Air Time is just that ... completing a thought and a sentence without interruption. We all know people who finish our sentences. We hesitate as we are thinking about our next word and before we get it out someone jumps in and completes it for us. Or in trying to agree with us keep saying yeah, yeah or umm, umm and want to tell their experience at the same time you are talking/telling a story and in the name of understanding you they tell about themselves so you end up talking at each other and sounding like all the talking heads we see on TV.

Perhaps you have been told to "get to the point" made to feel like everyone is in such a hurry there is no time to listen. You get afraid to ask a question or offer an idea because it could get cut off at the pass; won't work. What ever it may be, "awareness" is important for you to understand how cutting people off in mid sentence, finishing their thoughts for them and agreeing aloud and telling them your story while they are still trying to complete their thought and sentence continues the cycle of poor communication, misunderstandings and frustration.

Practice exercise: the next time you watch TV or listen to a morning radio program see if you can detect when someone does not let the other person finish a sentence before they jump in and either disagree or agree and add to the story or interrupt to tell something else. You will be amazed. Try this exercise in your home with your family watch how the listening and talking work. At school, watch what happens with the students and others ... are they all talking at each other while someone else is speaking? Remember, when people are allowed to express themselves safely, without interruption, ideas flow and creativity begins ... Share the Air Time, No Air Hogs!

Respect was made popular by Aretha Franklin and is defined by the words esteem; admiration; proper acceptance or courtesy; the condition of being esteemed or honored; to hold in esteem or honor. Most of us "don't get no respect" ... we might not be able to define the word Respect like Webster's dictionary, but we know when we feel we are being treated with Disrespect.

In the Pledge of Allegiance the sentence reads; one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all ... no matter the shape, color, size, belief or origin, we are Human Beings one and all and that fact alone is condition of being esteemed or honored. Every single time we speak or act disrespectfully toward another human being we are forgetting the value of our Word. (Remember the Mirror) You must respect your self first and be respectful to others. That's what good leaders and good followers do.