How important does listening affect your influence?

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

When you are overwhelmed with things that happen in your life, how do you refocus? One of the things that is the hardest things to do but yet very easy is the act of listening. The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) states, “By becoming better listeners, we will improve our productivity, as well as our ability to influence, persuade and negotiate. More importantly, we’ll avoid conflict and misunderstandings in the workplace. When we engage in conversation, it is critical for us to give our undivided attention.”

I argue that by becoming better listeners, we improve every aspect of our lives: home, work and play. So how is it that this act of listening then becomes a habit? Listening is a special act of progression towards being habitual. It is only one part of communication but it may be the most important.Take time to personally refocus by listening. Listen to an audio book, audio blog, or just listen to some calm music. You have to be the one in control. What ever you listen to, stay objective, have no bias, clear your mind, your thoughts, be receptive.

Many of the people I know are in some form of customer service. Even if you aren’t in the formal form of customer service where you might be providing a direct service to the customer like bringing their dinner to the table in the form of a waiter, or taking their money in the form of a cashier, you might be in construction where you have a customer that you may never see, or a dentist who fixes teeth, or many other jobs. Everyone is a customer and most people take care of a customer. So why is it that when you are a customer at a fast food restaurant, you sometimes do not get the right order.

Maybe the person who heard your order wasn’t actually listening. So if we have the ability to influence other people just by listening, why then do we not take it more seriously? I had the opportunity to experience having the wrong order just the other night. I wanted to order a piece of chocolate cake. What did I get? Chocolate yes, but chocolate chip cookies. I got home and the cookies were there but not the cake. What am I talking about? I didn’t order the cookies.

Being positive is the first response to the negative action. I went back that evening and asked the cashier for a cake. I had already called about it and really wasn’t mad. I did however need to make sure that the management knew about the situation so that training could be done if that was the choice. Some days are more difficult than others and I had my share of difficulty that day. My attitude over the fact that the cashier wasn’t listening and wasn’t paying attention to me as a customer remained positive as I couldn’t deal with anymore negativity anyway. It’s difficult to always be positive and motivated, but when you motivate yourself. If you concentrate on making yourself better time after time, you then are the catalyst of change. Staying positive allows you to rethink many situations you encounter. You have the ability through your actions to become influential for others.

Life is . . .

It has been awhile since I have written a post. I have no excuse because those aren’t really something winners use. I hope you are well.

I don’t think there is a word that is dreaded more in the English Language than cancer. I remember the day my wife got diagnosed like it was yesterday. My life went from completely normal to panic, chaos and sadness in about 30 seconds.

Life is short. If cancer has taught me anything, it’s how short life really is. Life can change in a matter of seconds and literally flip your world upside down. My wife was diagnosed the day before Thanksgiving in 2014. Sometimes it feels like yesterday and other times if feels like a lifetime. Regardless of the stage the cancer is diagnosed, it has has this way of turning your life into complete panic mode. Every fear you have ever had is coming to light right in front of you and there is no way to stop it.

This one word that we are so afraid of, has this awful way of making you feel like death is knocking on your family’s door.

Life is unexpected. Life has this awful way of ripping the ground out from under you right when things start to feel normal and stable. Nobody goes to bed at night and thinks that they themselves or their loved one is going to be diagnosed with cancer the next day.

It’s an awful curve ball life just kind of throws at you. You get this devastating news and have to make all of these critical decisions in a short amount of time. Your life becomes entirely different than it was yesterday. Enjoy every moment, you never know what will happen tomorrow.

Life is Love. Appreciate your loved ones. I think this is one of the biggest lessons that have come from “The C word” entering my life. We get so caught up in life that without knowing it, we neglect many of the relationships with the people most important to us. We forget to call. Nowadays, cell phone usage is the way of the world. Most programs associated with the phone gives you as many minutes as you can use and the term “long distance” is almost obsolete. Even then, do we make as many calls as we should. I think not.

We forget to write. We forget to appreciate our loved ones without even realizing it. Cancer has taught me to never go a day without telling the important people in my life that I love them. It only takes a few minutes to make a phone call or send a text to “check in.” Don’t push aside the people who mean the most. Writing has also changed. Sending a letter by mail is just about obsolete. Nobody sends postcards or jots down a note, puts it in an envelope, puts a stamp on the outside, and allows it to be delivered by the post office. Nowadays, we use email, text, facebook, instagram and so many other electronic versions of writing. Yet do we make the contact to the important people in our lives?

Life is Good. Don’t forget to enjoy the good things in life. With everything hectic happening around us, it is so easy to get caught up and forget how to have fun or how to enjoy the simple, happy, moments.

So many of the great memories that we are making, we will never get to experience again. Put your phone down. Live in the moment. Enjoy every ounce of good that life has to offer you.