When I worked for Xerox – yes, long ago I was a sales rep for Xerox and back then – after extensive in house training – Xerox had the luxury of sending us to their national training facility in Virginia for three weeks. I was most impressed by the training we had on Listening Skills. (This probably helped lead me into my current career as a Counselor, Relationship Coach and Life Coach.) The best sales reps have the capacity for really hearing what their customers need and then merely helping them to obtain it. To often sales reps try to push their products on their customers without regard to whether or not their product is a good match for the customer.
We often do the same things in our relationships with others. We all like to be heard, to feel what we have to say is heard and valued by others. Perhaps the greatest gift we can give another is to allow them to feel heard and understood. I imagine each of you can think of a time when the other person just didn’t get what you were talking about. I hope you can each also imagine a time when you felt truly heard and valued, respected and understood.
Listening takes time. We all like to be multi-taskers – doing the dishes, watching TV talking on the phone and planning in our head next weekends activities while worrying about what bills need to be paid and the project that is due at work tomorrow. Good listening requires focusing our attention fully on the other. Put the newspaper down, step away from the computer or turn off the latest version of reality TV. Or if it is really something you are in the middle of, ask if you can talk in a little while and set a time. Remember these words of wisdom. Seek first to understand and then to be understood.
I often work with couples on listening skills. Each individual may have become bitter and angry, and each stopped really hearing their partner a long time ago. The couples are often amazed to find that there is often much more agreement than disagreement when they truly listen to each other. Good communication is both the responsibility of the listener and the speaker. For now we are focusing only on the listener’s part.
First it may be helpful to think of what good listening is not. Good listening is not telling the other person what to do, fixing the problem or any form of advice giving. Understanding what the person says and how they feel does not mean that you as listener have to agree with the other person. Please do not confuse being heard with having the other agree with you. Being heard and persuading the other to your point of view are two entirely different things.
So what is good listening? Above all else being a good listener requires that you be accepting, non judgmental and respectful of the other, whether or not you agree with his or her point of view. One of the most effective tools a good therapist has, is the ability to listen in a way that creates for the client, a safe, accepting place to feel heard and valued. Without that the work of therapy or coaching is not likely to happen.
Being an effective listener is one of the most valuable tools you can develop to improve and deepen your relationships with others whether these are relationships with business associates or coworkers, friends, children or that someone special in your life.
Until Next Time,
by Amy Barnes, MBA MA LMHC
Until recently I didn’t realize that I had a choice. Then I realized how small I had been playing. I could make lots of excuses about why I was playing small, not working up to my full potential or using all my gifts and talents in most areas of my life. The unpleasant truth was that I had chosen to show up being less than I could be.
I could make lots of excuses. I could blame my childhood or the fact that I felt it would take too much of time and energy or that I would have to be different than who I am or others wouldn’t like me or I just didn’t believe in myself.
I think the truth was closer to I have been doing the same thing for a long time and had fallen into a rut. Not necessarily an unpleasant rut. I like my coworkers. I thoroughly enjoy working with the vast majority of my clients.
I’ve been doing this for almost 15 years and it’s time I gave myself a promotion. As a body centered coach and therapist I’ve learned more tricks, more tools more ways of working with people to get them from where they are to where they want to be much more quickly and easier. I need to appreciate my own growth and new skills. I need to listen to myself and trust my gut to know it’s time to do things differently. It’s time for me to spend more time in my own Zone of Genius.
Just as I support and empower my clients to be the best they can be I also need to do that for myself. So in the coming months you’ll see changes in my website and changes in how I go about doing business so I can reach more people in a way that is best for both myself and my clients.
I encourage you to play big, not stay small and I’ll do the same for me. In the meantime contact me if you feel I can support you in going from where you are now to where you want to be in all areas of life – both work and play.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Until next time,
By Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC
This morning I tossed a red Frisbee to my grateful black lab pointer mix, Char whose favorite sport is jumping up in the air and catching it again and again and again. I was quite comfortable with only a light sweater despite the ice still on the deck and the several inches of a crunchy icy snow mix still covering my backyard from Indy’s massive ice storm and subsequent snow several weeks ago. No buds on the trees, no visible sign of spring, only one day of sun and a weather forecast of snow next week. Because we have had years of experience of snow melting and spring coming we not only have faith that spring will come, we know without any doubt that spring will come.
However we often do not have that same faith in ourselves and our relationships. In relationship counseling, I meet with couples and their relationships start to improve, for most ever so slowly. The couple becomes confident that everything will be perfect and all will go smoothly. Yet at this point the relationship is often still quite fragile. Often after a minor disagree they become extremely discouraged. They had a taste of spring, a taste of what they want in their relationship yet they cannot sustain it. They are not yet ready to weather the ups and downs of even a healthy relationship.
We are not meant to be perfect. It’s not that we or our relationships will ever be perfect; the question is how do we learn to negotiate the bumps in the road? How will you handle your next disagreement, your next disappointment, and what will do when you or your partner reverts back to that old annoying behavior. Like the weather our lives ebb and flow we have good days and bad days. Learning to sail only on the goods days would leave you unprepared to navigate the storms.
As I counsel couples I hope to leave them prepared to handle together as a team whatever happens. So that just as we believe in the promise of spring after the winter, my hope is to strengthen relationships so couples can realize that whatever happens they know and believe in the hearts that together that can weather any storm.
Until next time,
Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC
What do you want to create in your life in 2011 and beyond? As a counselor I enjoy assisting clients in creating what they really want in all aspects of their lives. Yesterday I focused on making my “I want list.” Some of us feel very comfortable asking for what we want. I grew up for whatever reasons feeling uncomfortable about asking for what I most wanted. It was like I would jinx it or it wouldn’t really happen so why get excited or who cares. After a while I stopped voicing my wants and then I stopped wanting. I just accepted what ever came my way.
Now I am much clearer about my wants. I periodically give myself time to just write a list of my wants. Then I can turn my wants into goals. What is it that I really want to create in my life? If I don’t create the life I want who will.
Remember the Harvard Business Goal Study. Only three percent of the Harvard MBA graduates actually had written goals. Three percent had written goals. Thirteen percent had goals but not written and the other 84% had not set specific goals. Ten years later the Thirteen percent with non written goals were on average earning twice as much as the other 84%. The three percent who had written goals earned on average ten times more that the 84% with no set goals.
Creating vision boards to me is a way of setting goals of getting clear about what I want in ALL areas of my life. Louise Hay, Martha Beck and Cheryl Richardson like vision boards and even Oprah likes and uses vision boards. Vision boards are a concrete and daily reminder on what you really want. Keeping what you want in front of you every day and taking daily action steps to make it happen does allow you to create the life you want.
Join us this Saturday for Imagine Believe Create, in Indianapolis to focus on your wants and create your own vision board. Then we’ll talk about the next steps you can take to make your dreams, your goals a reality. Click HERE for more information.
Hope to see you Saturday.
Until next time,
by Amy Barnes, MMA MA LMHC
Pain and Joy are deeply connected. Sounds like they don’t have much in common. Yet as I work with clients, as a therapist, counselor and coach, I empower people like you in counseling to move from pain to joy. These two deep feelings are intricately entwined. They have everything in common. Often we become numb to the pain. The pain over a broken relationship or over not being where we want to be in life or not liking who we are is too much and we shut down. To protect ourselves from the pain we also shut ourselves off to the joy.
Bah! Humbug! Don’t want to feel the pain. Don’t want to feel the joy. It feels safe to stay numb. You may find yourself irritated at all those happy people or getting tired of putting on a happy face. Or you may in fact feel quite split. You may feel at times, joyful and at times feeling the pain.
I support clients in dealing with the pain so that they can discover and stay with the joy. I empower clients who are willing to do what it takes to transform pain into joy, to step into their full power and creativity.
You deserve to have a wonderful life. Isn’t it time you gave yourself a gift: The gift of joy.
If you are serious about making positive changes in your life, give me a call. I look forward to hearing from you.
Until next time,
Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC
Yes just breathe. Most of us are rushing around this time of year with far more to do than we can comfortably handle. We don’t even take time to breathe. Are you breathing or holding your breath??? Are you a shallow or a deep breather? Healthy breathing is a great stress reducer and one I frequently use myself and with my counseling clients.
If you want to create anxiety and stress, open your mouth, take a quick gasp of air and hold your breath. Notice the feeling in your body. For me I notice my shoulders and arms become tense. I feel anxious and no longer relaxed. Now focus on taking six slow deep breaths, noticing the air come slowly and gently in and out of your nostril. When I do this I notice my shoulders start to relax and I get a smile on my face. Many of are so stressed that we think the way our body feels when we are stressed is normal.
Shallow breathing only allows about a teacup of air in, making your heart work hard to pump oxygen to your brain and all those other parts of your body. Your brain then decides it needs to send out even more stress hormones – you’ve heard of cortisol and there are hundreds of other stress hormones your brain likes to tell your body to pump out, shooting adrenaline through your body and causing you to be more and more stressed.
So what can you do instead? Breathe, have a cup of tea and a nice conversation with a friend, laugh, take a few laps around the mall before shopping.
The simple act of spending two minutes each day focusing on nice slow, gentle and deep breathing can do wonders to lower your stress and anxiety and increase your immune system.
If you want to find more ways to lower your stress and anxiety, improve your relationships, and just feel really good about yourself, give me a call.
Isn’t it time for you to step into your full power and creativity?
Until next time,
Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC
by Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC
Instead of shopping for your family on Black Friday, (or at least in addition to) give your family and friends the gift of listening, of actually paying attention to them. The day after Thanksgiving, is also National Listening Day, sponsored by the Fetzer Institute, The Fetzer Institute just happens to focus on love, compassion and forgiveness. The StoryCorps web site comes with a list of questions and suggestions for conducting and recording and sharing the interviews. There are also other interviews you may listen to such as Sean Lennon interviewing his Mother Oko Yono.
Listening Day was started in 2008 as a way to honor a loved one, to honor an important relationship in your life in a way that can be saved for future generations. Most of the time we want other to hear us. Today is a day for us to focus on hearing others. What if you just took the time to really hear your spouse or children or other family or friends today? Taking the time to really understand another’s point of view and how it is both similar or different from yours. The gift of listening can make a major difference in the quality of your relationships.
I intend to interview my 89 year old Mother. The National Listening Day website even has suggested questions to make this easier. It’s amazing how many times I said I would do this and haven’t gotten around to it. Who would you like to interview? Who would you like to share the interview with?
by Amy Barnes MBA MA LMHC
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It’s a day for focusing on relationships. I love to cook and I enjoy the wonderful conversations and time together, the wonderful relationships with family and friends. I so appreciate the gifts of time and laughter I receive from each of my guests. We have certain tried and true recipes and then the experiments. The Tofu Pumpkin Cheesecake which turned out surprisingly tasty, was added when one of daughters was vegan. Now it has become a staple.
Thanksgiving for many of my clients brings up questions about family relationships. There may be great sadness for friends and family members no longer with us or anger over relationships gone sour or just that one family member you never quite got along with.
How can you enjoy all that time together?
★Who is bringing what? If you are vegetarian (or other dietary restriction) and everyone else is die hard meat eaters (or whatever it is you don’t eat) bring a dish you love to eat.
★Give yourself breaks from family. Respect your and others need for down time.
★Say no nicely. You don’t owe anyone a detailed explanation of a lost job, a difficult divorce or a tough year.
★Respect others. No gossip. Don’t say anything behind someone’s back that you would not say to their face.
★Turn off the electronics and enjoy some quality face to face time with family and friends (at least when you are not watching football).
★Consider making a donation to the Mosel Sanders Dinner or other Thanksgiving programs. These programs feed thousands who would not otherwise have a Thanksgiving dinner.
★If you are spending the day alone, make it special, do something special for yourself or another.
★Be lavish with heartfelt compliments and appreciations, after all the holiday is called Thanksgiving.
Plan ahead and travel safely. Have an amazing Thanksgiving, no matter who you spend it with.
One of our earliest life tasks after mastering basic survival is discovering who we are in the world. NO! How I love to watch two year olds as they run out into the world seldom out of eye range of a loving parent or caretaker. Then the look back to make sure they are still seen. Then the sudden running back, can’t get too far away in those forays into independence. The ability of a two year old to say NO! I’m not you. I have my own mind, my own body and my own heart.
Some of us maintain that two year old “No,” being on guard and wary of connecting with people for a variety of reasons. Some of us swing the other way saying “Yes” even when we mean no. We may become fearful of losing connection, holding onto a relationship even if it means losing ourselves. Neither position allows for a healthy relationship with ourselves or with others.
The first and most important relationship we have is with ourselves. Being authentic knowing who we are and who we want to be, having the freedom to say yes or no or maybe to ourselves and to others. What a gift to discover who you are at your very core.
The most important transformation we may ever have is learning to listen to ourselves. I support people in whole body learning to listen and trust themselves. Then the Yes or No comes from an authentic place inside us.
I support clients in learning to trust their gut, to value themselves. Too often we give our power away by trusting others more than we trust ourselves.
Until next time,
Amy Barnes, MA MBA LMHC
Change Agent for Personal, Professional and Global Transformation
We all want to feel good. We want to have good things happen to us and to our family and to our friends. Yet sometimes things happen that we don’t feel very good about. Listening to the media we should all feel good all the time. Just buy this or drink that or smoke this or do that. So with all this emphasis on feeling good is their any value in feeling bad???
No, I don’t advocate feeling bad for the heck of it. But I do advocate that maybe sitting with that pain, not trying to hide it or make light of it or rush to quickly to get rid of the pain, may be just what we need to get to the other side of it and not dwell in it. Maybe you have been downsized or had a fight with your spouse or you are single and not in the relationship you have been dreaming or maybe your best friend died or maybe you just had a bad day. Honoring the pain heals.
Often we don’t know why we feel pain. We often make assumptions and our mind tells us stories of why we feel the way we do, yet our minds are not always accurate. Usually if we have very strong feelings it’s about more than just what is happening in the moment. To sit with the pain and allow ourselves to feel it in our bodies and our heart instead of just retelling the stories in our head allow us to move through the pain.
Making the shift to feel good is important. It is a vital part of what I do working with individuals on personal, relationship and core issues. I want people to feel good. But I don’t want to do this with a band aid approach. I want people to radiate that good feeling from the inside out. I am not aware of anyone who does it 100% of the time. Life happens and sometimes what happens stinks. It’s not fair and it’s not what we want.
Feeling what it is we do feel at a deep level and appreciating all our feelings – especially the ones we don’t like – is an essential piece to really feeling good. To honor and not fear or try to hide or cover up our feelings leads to genuine joy and happiness.
Until next time,
Amy Barnes, Change Agent for Personal, Professional and Global Transformation