What’s love got to do with it?

uhl31

We are in the “love month” – a perfect opportunity to talk about how love and unhurried living intersect. What does love have to do with unhurried living? E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.

Love has everything to do with unhurried living.

Our ability to love others well requires unhurried living. We demonstrate love through thoughtful intentionality, quality time, patience, focused attention, engaged listening, perseverance, and undistracted presence… all of which require a lack of hurry.

I do not love well when I hurry.

Some of the things I try to do to unhurry my time with others:

  • remember people are valuable
  • put my phone facedown and lock eyes with the person
  • ignore the to-do list in my head
  • breathe deeply and be present
  • remember all those times when someone took time to listen to me
  • stop multi-tasking or invite the person (child) to help
  • relax and enjoy the time together
  • If I am truly unavailable temporarily because of a deadline or lack of emotional bandwidth, ask to schedule a time as soon as possible
  • leave margin in my day for unexpected interruptions
  • trust that God is ultimately in control of what I do in a day
  • repeatedly read over this list

Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible.

Living unhurried has all kinds of benefits for our health, our reflective thought processes, our decision-making, and our productivity. It only makes sense that unhurried living can also greatly benefit those we love. 

How can you unhurry your love for others this month?

doing away with distractions

Authentic listening requires intentional, active, uninterrupted attention. Distractions are a common hindrance to listening well, and they interfere with our desire to communicate and/or coach with care, curiosity, and connection. 

respect listening

I have been very challenged and convicted by all I am learning in my M.A. Counseling and Coaching class. We spent weeks studying listening skills, and I realize how much I still have to learn and improve.

One of the books we are reading is: Leadership Coaching: The Disciplines, Skills and Heart of a Christian Coach by Tony Stoltzfus. I highly recommend it.

listening flattery

This is one of the listening self-evaluations from the chapter on distractions. When I read through these statements, I saw many ways I could improve my listening. I think you might find it helpful also. Reflect on a recent past conversation or coaching appointment you had. Answer the questions, adding or subtracting points as appropriate.

Let me know how you did!

Distracting Environment

-1   Your e-mail or IM program was open in front of you.

-1   Your to-do list was sitting out in front of you where you could read it.

-5   You did e-mail, IM or work on other projects while you were talking/coaching.

-1   You were sitting at your main work desk.

-1   You could hear a noticeable amount of background noise (others talking, a phone ringing, TV, etc).

 -2   Your door was open, the place you were coaching in has no door, or you were in a public place.

-2   You finished another meeting, project or deadline within 10 minutes before the appointment.

-2   You rushed in or worked on other tasks right up to the moment the appointment/conversation started.

-2   There is a fair amount of stress and conflict in your life, or you are emotionally needy.

-1   You were hungry, thirsty, tired or otherwise in a state of physical discomfort.

___   Total

Supportive Environment

+1   You organized your notes/resources for this person/client and kept them easily accessible.

+3   You took at least 10 minutes before this appointment to get centered and review your notes/materials.

+2   You’ve made a serious personal commitment to be all there while you were coaching/talking.

+3   Your desk, screen, and or table/desk were clear, or you had a separate place to talk/coach away from daily work.

+1   You had a phone headset. (If the conversation took place by phone.)

+1   You had a comfortable environment to talk/coach in (correct temperature, good chair, etc.).

+1   You prayed for this person/client this week.

+3   You didn’t have any calls, walk-ins or interruptions while you talked/coached.

+2   You scheduled your appointment at a time of day when you are alert and well rested.

+1   Your connection was clear and totally reliable. You aren’t using a cell phone or voice chat.

___    Total

Distraction + Supportive = ________ Final Total

(**If your final score is negative, may want to change your environment. If you are coaching professionally, the bar should be higher: if your score is less than +7, you may want to make some changes to improve your listening environment.)

Do distractions affect your ability to listen well? What could you change?

___________

Stoltzfus, Tony (2005). Leadership Coaching: The Disciplines, Skills and Heart of a Christian Coach (Kindle Locations 2662-2685).

how are your listening skills?

listening skillsThe most important skill that any people helper/developer can cultivate is to listen.  Listening to people is not a passive activity, but an active one. 

Leadership is about influence. Some leaders use positional power to manipulate behavior, but true leadership is relational. Good communication strengthens relationships, and the first step to good communication is good listening.

I have spent the last few weeks in my M.A. class learning about listening. It has been convicting, challenging, and motivating. I thought I was a pretty good listener until I took time to really evaluate my normal communication tendencies against these listening skills…

Listening with full attention

Sitting calm and centered. No fidgeting. Giving eye contact. Projecting warm curiosity. No distractions.

Listening with acceptance

No judgement. No forming opinions in the back of the mind. No planning a rebuttal.

Listening for understanding

“I hear you saying…” “Can you tell me more about that?”

Listening to hear more

Truly engaged and focused. Allowing for silence; not rushing to fill the quiet spaces. Waiting. Lean in.

Listening for information

Can I learn from what they are sharing? Is there something I need to hear? Not getting defensive. Open to hear more.

One exercise I did for the class was to try to listen to someone else talk for three to five minutes without saying a word – just making good eye contact and using body language to show interest and engagement. It was SO hard to not jump in with a comment, advice, or suggestions. You might want to try this… Let me know how it goes for you!

How are your listening skills? What do you do in order to listen well?