Before I had the stroke, I believed that I achieved professional success and physical health because I worked hard. I prided myself on putting exceptional effort into watching what I eat, exercising to keep fit, updating my knowledge, and meeting the needs of the employees or clients I served. Whenever something bad happened, I knew what to do. I would work hard to make it a temporary setback. Then came the stroke, and it became clear that working hard wasn’t enough.
My brain accident was a miraculous eye opener. It showed me that my success in life was not all about me working hard. I was forced to be still, quieten my racing mind, accept what other people are offering (not necessarily what I am working hard for), and understand who people are. I have had to really learn how to listen to others, in order to truly understand them. As a result, I now have access to more minds, more connections, more interdependence than ever before.
One of the first steps I had to take, to better connect with others, was to focus on eliminating the things which prevented me from hearing and knowing others. What really helped was categorization of the 12 roadblocks that inhibit communications, outlined by Bolton in his book, People Skills.
The characteristics listed under “Judging, Sending Solutions and Avoiding Other’s Concerns” kept me from connecting with or really listening to others. Focusing only on the good I thought I was doing, I would never have thought that actions, intended to be harmless or even loving, could be taken in a negative way. Therefore it is important to study all the 12 roadblocks, as seen in the post on Communication Spoilers, and see how they can unintentionally prevent all of us from connecting with valuable clients, colleagues or the special people in our lives.
The intention of this post is to suggest that perhaps even more than working hard for ourselves, success comes from understanding, connecting with, and developing a true relationship with others. As such, we have to move away from what we think we know, away from our own perceptions, which are often the source of our roadblocks.
Once we are able to avoid the roadblocks, how does it help us to listen? What are some strategies for active and effective listening? What strategies have worked for you? In the next post on this topic of People Skills, I will share some strategies suggested by Robert Bolton, and based on my own professional experience.
Copyright © 2011 M. Dawn Armstrong. All rights reserved.