How I Fell In Love (And Built A Long-Lasting Relationship) With Writing

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I learned how to write when I was four.

I learned the Latin alphabet by the age of six.

I had short stories published by the second grade and although they were only published in the school magazines, by then I knew that I was a storyteller who got hungrier by the day.

By the time I reached twelve, I had scored most top places at school language competitions and had read more than half of the age-appropriate books in my school library.

Then, I had to stop loving words and sentences so much and needed to dedicate to building some extra life skills.

While the high school in sciences cut the cord with writing for a while, it made an amazing impact on my critical thinking and perceptiveness skills. Complex mathematics and physics lit up creative areas in my brain that I didn’t know existed.

The weirdest epiphany I got from law school was that rules are invented so that people can create opportunities from the unrestricted space around them.

Still, it was at the law school where I learned proper technical writing and essay structure that I was later able to use when I started content writing.

It was legal studies that made me read political magazines as a daily fix and swipe through issues of “The Economist” to learn how ‘smart business people’ talk real English stuff.

Luckily, my sis made a smart choice, both for her and for me, and got an English Language and Literature degree.

While we were studying, I chewed upon half of the mandatory Shakespeare, almost all of Oscar Wilde’s plays, prominent British poets and a few American modernists who made me realize that I own an unexploited writing bank that should be put to some good use.

If you are wondering why I am telling this story, by the time you’ve reached this slide, you’ve probably read the whole of it. That is a great sign that you’ve liked it and that I can keep you engrossed enough to know what readers want.

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The Pink Gorilla at the Back of My Garden

This morning I went out in the back garden to pick up some basil for my pasta.

And – there she was. The pinkest gorilla I have ever seen! How do I know she was a lady? Pretty easy – she gave an arrogant look at my messy hair. Just like she knows better!

She was picking up flowers, not at all surprised or frightened to see me.

She was more annoyed that I came to disturb her in the careful flower arrangement she was making. Little by little, my roses and lilies were vanishing in front of my nose. I have never seen something so pink in my life!

“Gosh, she must really love pink!” – I thought.

But I didn’t quite get where she found all that pink dye on her fur. It was a glittery disco-pink which didn’t go well with her deep brown eyes and her olive skin. I wondered who the hairdresser behind this horror look was.

I am sorry I didn’t have the time to ask her. Just as I turned my back on her, she jumped over the fence and disappeared.

You won’t believe what I found next to my favorite rose bush:

A twenty dollar bill!

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A Role Model from the Dark Side

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I will call him the Shrew. People did not always like him. He had a dark side to himself. But, although young, one I could easily grasp. My old soul could always relate to such people. It came naturally. I thought people were too harsh on him. Then again, I always think people are too harsh on people.

He was my literature teacher and I learned plenty from him. How to read books. How to truly read books. His lessons were the end of me passing through the pages indolently and swallowing whatever anyone decided to put there. He taught me to feel literature and to picture the authenticity behind the paper hardcovers. The grammar-akin kid in me was achingly growing by learning the worthlessness of dry words and by starting to feel books into adulthood.

One would even say that I did not perceive the Shrew in the typical, mostly supportive way expected from a mentor or a role-model. Relating was often challenging. His critical ways were a slap in the face to my young teenage ego accustomed to getting it easy through primary school. To my surprise, there was more to the world or words than just spelling and grammar.

He did not really led the decent society lifestyle or fell into the description of a politically correct person. He did definitely not fit in the teenage mentor “responsible adult” frame. But he knew books. And a great role model does not always need to be a great person, whatever stands behind the description of people’s greatness. By observing him during the four years at high school I started seeing both sides of people and I came to know acceptance, mostly self-acceptance.

The Non-Parental Mentor

The Shrew did teaching. But he was not a regular teacher. Nor a parent. Maybe that is exactly why I inadvertently chose him as a role model. Maybe his influence in my life was so important because the choice was not a conscious decision. Or maybe just because my grandmother was a teacher, too. The first teacher in my life who was not chosen, but put upon. Rather, the Shrew was my own choice and a different one from my parental figures. He did not care much about being accepted. In the open of course. He was human after all and wanted true connection.

Yet, he was genuine. Far more than many people I knew in my life. He was not so frightened to keep me so safe. Such is the ungrateful role of primary caretakers. Being so scared to keep youngsters well and safe, greater limits are made. The Shrew was filling in what I have been mostly missing as a teenager – authentic courage. Intelligence was so overrated in my family. Stupid people were laughed over. Only intelligent people were good enough to be loved. And that is why the real person behind the intelligent coward I was started emerging just as I enrolled high-school.

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Boldness aside, the Shrew was not stupid. Not at all. Perhaps that is why he influenced me so much – because he had both the mind and the heart.

His job was not easy. Making young adolescents stay till the end of a 1000-page long Russian book classic is a taxing task. I never understood why they gave such books to so young people. What can a 15-year old teen understand about Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina’s adult gender and morality burdened problems or the society-induced killer in the main character of Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”?

Possibly, we get these books because this is the most receptive age in which not everything needs to be fully understood, but in which the initial spark for the right kids can be forever ignited. And possibly, the Shrew knew this.

A Lesson from a Theater Setting

The actress lesson came upon me because the Shrew thought that often loud-spoken, I would make a good actress. Little did he know that I was loud only for things that truly mattered to me. I was not comfortable with being put on stage. Putting so much emotional energy out there was draining for an introvert like me. An evening in front of people took me days to recover.

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Still, what would the role of the mentor be if not to put me out of my comfort shoes and see how far can I go when facing other(s)?

He made me play a middle-aged woman with a father that just got out of prison and a drug-addict son. Maybe he thought I could imagine being in her shoes. And there he was right. I do easily imagine what it is like to be someone else.

His methods were not always pedagogic, but they were certainly growth-spurring. My respect for him grew after this.

The Gushing 40-Minutes Long Final Exam

It was the day of the final exam in literature at graduation. We have been introduced possible topics and books that had the same gauge running through them. Quite unusually, I did not care much about this written exam. I thought it was boring. All those rules for writing essays were giving me a headache.

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I was eighteen and finishing high school. The whole summer was before me and the beautiful May weather was not exactly the best friend to a graduation exam. I was practically angry that I had to sit there and write.

Perhaps it was all that anger that made me finish the exam within just forty minutes instead of using all two and a half hours we had at our disposal. But I’d like to think that the flow of words that was nothing like ever I’d written before came out under Shrew’s guidance.

The sentiment of that day helped me overcome the regret of not keeping my exam paper. Just then, I knew my needs, I found my voice and I made the right choice. It was the breaking step to believing in my personal value regardless of my looks or popularity. Shrew’s natural authority taught me how to find and open the right doors for me. Telling the truth to my peers just became much easier.

The know-it-all child’s best lesson from his high school guide was to question its deepest beliefs and to grow into a vulnerable adult.

 

Red Thread: the Invisible String Interconnecting All Women

red thread

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Threads have a symbolic energy meaning. They are a source of personal power for the Native Americans through their long hair, they are in our DNA and they are in our food as fibers and even in nanotechnology, galloping into the future. The analogy in the examples may be far-fetched, but it is not to be underestimated. A thread can go as long and as far as possible, and connect as many people as possible.

Thread in Tradition

In the Chinese tradition, the red thread of the destiny is the red cord of marriage. According to the ancient stories, the gods tie an invisible red thread around the ankles of those who are destined to meet under specific circumstances or to help each other in some specific way. In the Japanese legends, the red thread used to be tied around the small finger. Those that have been connected with the red thread by fate are destined to love each other forever, regardless of the place, the time and the circumstances they find themselves in during their lives. The thread can be torn by force or tangled, but the connection can never be totally destroyed.

The thin pink or crimson thread in the Jewish tradition is a type of talisman that can be carried as a protection against misfortune. The Macedonian martinka is a strand woven of a white thread and a red thread. The white symbolizes purity and happiness, and the red denotes blood and vitality. On the first day of March, the oldest woman in the family used to tie the red and white string around the children’s wrists to protect them from bad omens and to improve their health. The martinka was also used to decorate the first milk given in May and the herbs collected at the beginning of July.

How to Use the Power of the Red Thread

The red thread is a global symbol of the connection that exists among all women, across space and across time. With the monthly bleeding, the women reboot their energy cycle and get in touch with their intuition. That is one of the best gifts they can give to each other and to the world.

There are amazing ways you can empower yourself with the magic of the red thread. Tying a red string around your wrist during your monthly bleeding is an excellent way to remind yourself that you are a sovereign to your body, soul and heart, and to take as much as you want time for yourself, at least during the bleeding. If you want to create a special bond with friends or a circle of women, you can get a long string and make pieces for each circle member in a ritual.

The power of thread work on workshops with multiple participants is unbelievable. The group can knit and wave an enchanting web of interconnections just by taking the string from one member to the other, choosing the next in the circle by free will.

In the end, cats might be on to something. It is no wonder that yarn is one of their favorite toys!

 

Dogs: Priceless Carriers of Unexpected Mental Health Goodies

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If You Need Some Spiritual Love, There Is No Better Messenger Than Your Dog To Deliver It

I used to associate dharma with Buddhism only, and later, with the miraculous series “Lost”. If you were a fan, then you will know how was ‘Dharma’ involved in the story and what does it have to do with the dharma of dogs. If you were not a fan, the intermezzo of this TV snippet is almost irrelevant. Now, my favorite association of dharma is with dogs and the astounding psychological lessons I get from an army of three mischief makers that live in my backyard. The extent to which they provide therapeutic food is remarkable, both in the healing, balmy way and in the cognitive processing way.

At this point, I really need to address the issue of credit recognition. “The Dharma of Dogs” is a book edited by Tami Simon containing stories about dogs wisdom collected by spiritual teachers, among whom is Eckhart Tolle. I admit that I haven’t read the book. But I have seen Eckhart Tolle’s reference to it, and without delving into too much detail, I can almost imagine how he speaks about the dharma of dogs with his gleeful half-smile and half self-sufficiency. At least, it is a breeze seeing what do dogs have to do with the ‘Power of Now” or with the ‘New Earth’.

Without devaluing the priceless work of Eckhart, the three strays that have set a kingdom in my garden and opened a school of dog psychology without an invitation are my master teachers. While I am feeding them with dog food, they are feeding me with dharmic and cathartic lessons that often put me to shame. They are so present and intentionless. I have never doubted that dogs have a soul but many people deny them that depth. Then again, most of these people deny the soul’s existence in humans, too. I am sure that if they spend enough time with dogs and stay away from humans at least for a while, they will experience a 180-degree turnaround.

From what I have witnessed, dogs are the least neurotic beings, have the best sense of boundaries and know how to respond instead of reacting. I sometimes think that I know a lot about this behavior, but when the three dogs effortlessly surpass me in any of these three activities, carrying them out with an inborn ease, I feel as mature as a three-year old kiddo throwing a tantrum for having its toy taken.

Goody #1 – Dogs have an unprecedented lack of neurotic behavior.

If you are not sure what I am trying to say, let me illustrate this with an example. My three canines are strays whose dad is living nearby. He doesn’t have a human ‘boss’ so he spends most of his time freely wandering through the wilderness and doing dog stuff. Occasionally though, he visits his three heirs. This often happens when I feed them. (I decided not to feed him because I wanted to put a limit on how many dogs I am taking care of, and he was on the critical line). I am well aware that he is coming for the food but the main point here is how he is reacting when I chase him away. He runs away after some negotiating with me. It sometimes takes a simple ‘Go’ but more often than not it takes picking up a pebble and threatening to throw it at him.

This usually signs the deal. If I don’t continue with the same behavior the next times he comes he has forgotten all about it and starts licking my hands again. That wild hound doesn’t keep a grudge or a bad memory. He is always so present and willing to start communication all over again, as he is seeing me for the first time.

Have you ever managed to pull this behavior through, in a 100-percent way, just like dogs do? Suddenly, bearing grudges becomes less comfortable.

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Goody #1 – Dogs have super-flexible boundaries.

Flexible boundaries are a sign of good psychological health. Knowing our boundaries helps us find our place in this big world. Knowing when to tighten and when to expand them is a crucial life skill that can keep us safe, and, at the same time, help us grow and blossom by choice.

While I think I know my boundaries and I know that I am (not) flexible I am constantly in awe of the boundary lessons given by my dogs when I comb them. I use one of those anti-flea thick combs with sharp prongs that can be pleasant with gentle scratching and painful when taking it rough. It is not always easy to assess what is the right pressure. Thus, sometimes, I go too heavy. The way this is let known to me is astounding. There is a soft place around one of my dog’s heads. The moment I cross the boundary, I know. If it is soft, there are pleasant murmurs. If I push too hard, the dog pulls away. If I try to keep him by force, he opens his teeth and pulls my hand away with it. The ease by which he transcends from one boundary level to another is so subtle and so proportionate that I am wondering if he is talking to me in a sophisticated language that I am too shallow to understand. He never ever uses too much force or becomes violent.  

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Goody #3 – Dogs have an innate skill to respond instead of react.

A response is not a knee-jerk reaction, impulsive feedback or an uncontrollable emotion. Reacting often assumes coming across to others from a place of fear and pain and getting back with unreasonable force. It is not a surprise that a response is also connected with good boundaries and lack of neurotic behavior. They have plenty to do with each other since they all derive from the ‘now’ and are not filled with the psychological garbage that accompanies people acting out of presence.

Did you know how my dogs taught me a response lesson? I (unintentionally) tested their reaction using the gardening hose on them during the afternoon nap. If it were a person that was being splashed with a water hose while resting, the least I would have expected from experience is a curse spit through stiff lips. The equivalent reaction would have been getting back to me in the same way. (And I don’t even want to think about the worst).

Instead, those small barking creatures just leave the terrain and move on the nearby meadow. They are looking over their shoulder with an almost silent reproach like they are trying to say: “Hey human, what’s up? Why are you acting so weird? This is no good for me. I am leaving.” making me rest in my stupidity for a while.

Dogs have also taught me a lot about trust and forgiveness. I sometimes wonder if they have become domesticated only to serve as a projection mirror or our imperfect ability to trust, set boundaries, stay in the present and respond accordingly. I think Eckhart Tolle will agree with me.

(Disclaimer: No dogs were hurt during the writing of this article, or ever. )

How to Talk About Beauty to Young Girls

How to Talk About Beauty to Young Girls

When we are born, the most beautiful person in the world for us is our mother. While I am almost sure you don’t remember (at least not consciously) the moment of your birth, I am positive that you remember a moment of your very first years when you looked into your mother’s face with awe. If you are having a hard time picturing this, have a look at this toddler and you will get the idea. Our mother was the most beautiful creature in the world simply because she was close, familiar and – because she was ours.

This first definition of beauty rarely stays throughout our lifetime. It is molded, changed and distorted. It evolves along with our own personal ways, but also with the societal messages. From what was once a notion about closeness and intimacy, beauty is usually transformed into meeting various specific criteria.

Nevertheless, beauty is a deep human need. Art is the ultimate impersonation of beauty, and nowhere is the beauty as eclectic as in the art world. People’s utmost appreciation of art speaks about the unbreakable links between beauty and creativity, life force and vitality. It speaks about the love of life.

So, how do we talk to young girls about beauty? Do we seek to mirror our own thoughts of beauty into the outside world? Is beauty an innate need? Are beauty and aesthetics identical? Is beauty non-important? Is it an ecstasy or even something damaging?

If we want to avoid a message imprint, we may altogether avoid or refuse to talk about beauty. That is a legitimate choice, but one that may result in meeting a grown-up world with distorted and inflexible ideas about the meaning of a beautiful woman. Or a beautiful person.

We wouldn’t want to cut through the roots of thinking about and desiring beauty, especially in a world that is obsessed with it. We wouldn’t want to tell them they are beautiful, but we also wouldn’t want to tell them they are not beautiful.

What we want to talk about is the beauty of all their personal parts – emotional, physical, mental and spiritual, and how each of them is intrinsically deserving of recognition and acknowledgment. Conversation and exposure to all kinds of beauty is a much better idea than not talking about it at all or ignoring its existence.

We want to tell them that, apart from being beautiful, they are also wise, clever, strong and capable. Can you imagine doing this in an environment that engulfs a holistic understanding of beauty?

The contrast of opinions about beauty is nowhere as sharp as in the realm of the physical. Luckily, the world is awakening to grasp all beauty – the one with a crooked nose, the one with beautiful eyes, the one with a sagging belly, the one with scars, and the one with a tiara in the hair. Beauty becomes both devilish and angelic.

Our instinctive obsession with beauty means survival, gives purpose, provides love and growth, as well as joy, soul food, sexuality, life, and ecstasy. This is why we celebrate beauty. Beauty is about art and intellect, about power and strength, about humbleness and experience.

It is the woman’s charge we carry in order to transform the society’s tainted idea of it and help our children show us what embodied beauty is when we let them be who they truly are.

And if you manage to meet with a child who has an idea about beauty as the little Bennet here, let it come and give a lecture to all of us. As it turns out, children are the masters on the subject!

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Can Your Heart Predict the Future?

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The secrets of the human heart are many, and as we advance in sophisticated technological research methods and innovative software we can start unveiling at least some of them. The vital organ of emotions has been a research topic in prominent studies but we are just in the last decade or so using new measures to explore the heart’s intuitive intelligence.

To understand how the heart as part of our holistic body system perceives information, which is out of the scope of the immediate human awareness, the researchers  McCraty, Atkinson and Bradley used physiological measures such as skin conductance, EEG (electroencephalogram) and ECG (electrocardiogram) reports.

By showing 30 neutral and 15 emotionally stimulating images to the study population, they were trying to investigate whether the heart will react with changes in the above measures when faced with the option of future emotional stimuli.

Your Heart Scans the Future

Surprisingly, the study results have confirmed that the heart receives emotional content seconds before the stimulative event occurs and reacts with an accelerated heart rate. There was also a gender difference: female participants in the study had a mildly stronger response to the prestimulus. The accelerated heart rate is an intuitive response to future emotional stimuli. The heart processes the intuitive affect received in a shape of a prestimulus information in almost the same way it does for processing standard sensory stimuli.

The research results were an important evidence that although we may think that we react to only what is happening in the moment, that is practically not true. The perceptive tools in our bodies continually scan the future, so does the heart.

Defining intuition is a challenge that is not supported by a unanimous definition in science. Many disregard it as a fantastical and metaphysical idea, trying to explain it by alternative definitions, mainly including the brain. However, even the human neurological system is not that simple, and scientists are just starting to discover curious new findings of the “brain in the gut” and of new physiological functions of cranial sections.  

An Exhausted Heart is not Intuitive

There is plenty we don’t know. Researchers from the American Heart Association completed a research on 26 persons younger than the usual age population examined in heart-associated research studies – healthy individuals under the age of 40. They discovered that, when overworked, people are weak, exhausted, easily irritated and demoralized and named this bundle of symptoms “life exhaustion”.

People become tired of life and lose vitality. Losing vitality is a bonus factor in the growing psychosocial phenomena, including anxiety, depression, and social isolation. When we don’t listen to its intuitive wisdom, the heart gets neglected. A neglected heart suffers a greater risk of heart disease.

As it turns out, there are many studies that back up the proverbial wisdom to “listen to one’s heart” when making an important decision. If you are a fan of the brain logic, you may want to include the heart as an additional weapon in your arsenal of life-managing skills.  

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Mathematics – the Imperfect Language of the Universe

maths the language of the universe

“We give great value not only to the methods and the tools of science but also to the language of the universe we call mathematics.” – Neil Degrasse Tyson

Writing about the flaws of science in the age of fake news is like walking on eggshells. When supported by a public interview statement given by the celebrity astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson, though, it is a far more comfortable challenge.

As a guest in Stephen Colbert’s informal interview-lecture at Montclair Kimberley Academy, Degrasse Tyson uses the words of the mathematician and Nobel-prize winner Eugene Wigner to brings us closer to the specific bias of the scientific logic: “Having in mind that it is a product made in our heads, mathematics has inexplicably large usefulness in the universe. We have not discovered mathematics under a rock. It is a pure mental fabrication, and yet, it provides us with exact predictive descriptions and explanations about the universe.”

Tyson considers maths and physics the basics of the language of the universe. The majority of the academia would agree that they are the backbone of science. While getting used to interpreting phenomena and events through this language we forget about stepping out of the lines of established thinking. An almost perfect illustration of the limiting frame of a single scientific language is spinning the phrase “thinking out of the box” into “thinking out of the maths”.

He adds that the outcome of a one-directional interpretation of the universe is that we get accustomed to dismissing our intrinsic senses of investigation and discovery of new things we possess as children. We filtrate everything through the already digested knowledge making hypotheses and assumptions of how things should be.

In this way, we damage the childlike curiosity in the mind of a fully grown adult.     

This is where Tyson cuts it short by remembering the libretto of the Broadway musical “Phantom of the opera” and his love of another phenomenal language – the language of music: “Leave your senses – is a replica from the musical” – he says, and adds: ”One day, perhaps in another life, I too would love to write texts for Broadway musicals…”

Stephen Colbert Interviews Neil deGrasse Tyson at Montclair Kimberley Academy

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Why Does Your Facebook Comments Feed Turn Into a Word War

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It is quite sufficient to have a look at just one longer string of comments anywhere online, especially if an online space is specifically designed for socially sensitive issues, to find out how online public communication works. It is often full of spite which does not have to do anything with the concrete discussion topic.       

Part of the comments are well argued and the commenters stick to the subject, whereas huge amount aim at something related to the author’s look, personality, or attribution, or to anything personal about the author, the owner, or anyone in any way related to the text, the video or the image being commented.

Trolls Feed on Emotional Contagion

For a short while, participants stay on the topic. Then, the comments start picking up

their own pace and run out of control from the online space. The more people take part, the more the topic is dissolved. It can get particularly messy when (semi)professional trolls or flamers get involved. The usual way that the rest of the audience replies to these online pyros is by publicly shaming them.

However, instead of being silenced, they get aflame. Their flaming rhetoric gets more attention. The problem with trolling is that they feed on attention – of any kind. They can maintain a solid position when opposed and when supported because their only task is to be present.

The trouble is that, when they do this, they appeal to an army of followers who are genuinely concerned about the subject, or who are commenting because they need support or connection. This is the point where instead of a discussion – we get to witness a chaotic war of comments.     

What is the dynamics behind the creation of these violent online spaces that take a life of their own?

This happens because emotions are contagious. Not only the “real” emotions we share off-screen but also the virtual – emotional states can be transferred to others through the process of emotional contagion. When people are emotionally afflicted they feel the same emotions as someone who is nearby without the awareness of how this happened.

Emotional Contagion On-Screen: The Ripple Effect

Emotional contagion is partially supported by a series of real field experiments. The data collected from a large-scale experiment conducted in a real-world social network over a period of 20 years direct to the fact that long-term moods (depression or happiness) can be transferred between members in the social network.  

The network – a neighborhood, a company, a marriage, or a group of friends – contained clusters of happy people, in which the happiness stretched as far as three degrees of distance – for example, to the friend of a friend of a friend.

Those who were surrounded by the greatest number of happy people and those who were central in the network were the happiest. The research has shown that happiness clusters were formed as a result of spreading of happiness, and not only as a result of people’s tendency to make friends with people who share similar personalities.   

You can now even measure your own propensity towards getting the emotion virus. Even if you are susceptible to getting cold, your own awareness can help you put some water to the fire next time a Facebook feed gets violent.

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These (In)Action Tips Will Make You a Great Office Communicator

Three Inactions

The consumer-related and production-oriented business world we live in makes it difficult to discover the power of quietude and receptiveness to the environment. Taking action is so championed that most people find it extremely complicated to sit calm and do nothing, at least on the outside.

Perhaps this is so because most job descriptions include doing something; although call-center agents may disagree with me – just how many times they have needed to sit calmly through a client’s angry rant understanding that doing nothing is the best possible “doing” under the current circumstances?

I am sure they will be the ones who do not only know what I am trying to say here, but also the most adept at adding to it. Call-center agents and other service professionals feel free to help!

For others, you may just find these three (in)actions to drastically improve your world of office (and other) communications.

I am talking about listening, presence and response.

Listening versus Hearing

Talks with clients,  informal Skype communication, mobile ringing, new emails arriving, water supplies being filled up, and on top of everything, the car service calls to say that your car will not be ready by Friday as the dealership failed to deliver the necessary spare part you desperately need by the weekend.

And you promised your daughter that you will finally take her to visit her best friend who lives in the other part of the town!

By taking so much in, it is strenuous to keep a part of your energy for listening. You can only hear, and not really listen. Some people call this active listening.

This name is the best description for the illusive passivity of the quality. If you learn the difference between listening and hearing, you will know how to act from a point of understanding an essential human need shared by people everywhere.

All people have the need to be deeply heard. Active listening includes presence with all five senses. And, no, this does not mean that you should go and randomly kiss, stare or smell your colleagues!

It means that you are fully aware of the environment and the changes in the person you talk to so that you know the best way to read the message and respond. Even if you are not able to understand or fulfill all wishes and requests made by others, at least you will know that you have accommodated a genuine human need for connection.

There is great power in listening. Use it wisely!

Presence versus Presentation

Listening brings us to the second powerful in(action). They both have something in common and this relates to the five senses mentioned before.

To be fully present and available for another human being you need to be able to refrain from self-presentation for a minute. When you make a space for other people to present and be themselves, you are fulfilling the crucial human need for acceptance.

Presence does not mean being in the same office or agreeing to attend a meeting and share a conference room.

True presence means being with another human through all that they are, without any judgment. It means calm presence with no nasty sighs, ambiguous looks, eyes-rolling or turning your back on an open conversation and leaving the office.

First of all, full presence needs to happen in us, so that we can give it to another.

Response versus Reaction

The third and all-encompassing quality for all three inaction power tools goes a step further.

By employing the first two “passive” qualities you will be able to act in the best possible way.

I am sure you can remember a time when, instead of waiting for the person who talks to you to finish the sentence, you are already creating an answer in your head.

One needs to be very careful – this often happens later in the stage of (business or any other) relationships, when assumptions, expectations and learned behavior take the place of real-time connection.

Response is exactly in that space which shows up between the questions and the answer.

If you find a way of processing all that has come in without jumping into action with both feet, you have mastered the vital communication skill – response instead of reaction.

Response comes from an authentic space that happens now.

A Bonus Tip: All these power tools are valid for you, too. Do not forget: first of all, listen, be present and responsive for your own sake.

A Bonus Bonus Tip: Be patient in your attempts to become a master office communicator. Remember – borderline obnoxiousness is not included in this article, as for some people even Buddha-like communication skills will not be enough.

So, give yourself some slack and a pat on the back for each day of progress!

Call-center wizards, bring on the comments!

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