Section 15

Enlarging your field of perception and Skills in Listening

Let’s try to remove some mundane uncertainties from your daily routines and observe how your life might change in smaller scale. Try these exercises on daily basis: Try to do one thing different from your normal routine daily. Try to go to bed at a newer time. Take a new route to work, grocery store or school. Eat something exotic such as a new fish that you would find hard to find. Try to start a conversation with someone you might have a hard time communicating and at the same time try to treat this person in a completely new way. Try to pay attention to nonverbal behavior, to their gestures, to body language, posture, and tone of voice. Hopefully you will enlarge your field of perception.

Developing skills in listening is used to ensure that one is not shutting out useful information. The more difficult the situation or the more unknown is the routine, the more likely you are to observe something new about yourself or the situation that might drastically change your perception of unknown or ways of seeing things.

The danger is the fact what we see daily become ordinary to us. People, things, sights, sounds, and smells seem to disappear from awareness. They lose their distinctiveness. The idea is to create new patterns. To develop skills in listening.

Dr. Covey in 7 Habits explains it this way:

"Seek first to understand" involves a very deep shift in paradigm. We typically seek first to be understood. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak. They’re filtering everything through their own paradigms, reading their autobiography into other people’s lives.

"Oh, I know exactly how you feel!"

"I went through the very same thing. Let me tell you about my experience."

They’re constantly projecting their own home movies onto other people’s behavior. They prescribe their own glasses for everyone with whom they interact. If they have a problem with someone—a son, a daughter, a spouse, an employee—their attitude is, "That person just doesn’t understand."

We’re filled with our own Tightness, our own autobiography. We want to be understood. Our conversations become collective monologues, and we never really understand what’s going on inside another human being. When another person speaks, we’re usually "listening" at one of four levels. We may be ignoring another person, not really listening at all. We may practice pretending. "Yeah. Uh-huh. Right." We may practice selective listening, hearing only certain parts of the conversation. We often do this when we’re listening to the constant chatter of a preschool child. Or we may even practice attentive listening, paying attention and focusing energy on the words that are being said. But very few of us ever practice the fifth level, the highest form of listening, empathic listening.

When I say empathic listening, I mean listening with intent to understand.

Empathic listening involves much more than registering, or even understanding the words that are said. Communications experts estimate, in fact, that only 10 percent of our communication is represented by the words we say. Another 30 percent is represented by our sounds, and 60 percent by our body language. In empathic listening, you listen with your ears, but you also, and more importantly, listen with your eyes and with your heart. You listen for feeling, for meaning. You listen for behavior. You use your right brain as well as your left. You sense, you intuit, you feel.

Empathic listening is so powerful because it gives you accurate data to work with. Instead of projecting your own autobiography and assuming thoughts, feelings, motives and interpretation, you’re dealing with the reality inside another person’s head and heart. You’re listening to understand. You’re focused on receiving the deep communication of another human soul.

You may be surprised at how this simple effort of giving feedback to get feedback increases your understanding of what is really being said."

Before we continue, let’s examine what could hinder your motivation; let’s call them motivation killers.

 

Motivation Killers

The biggest block to living a motivating life is our own voice of blame, negative thoughts, criticism and judgment within each of us. Research has shown that people who carry this attitude are more prone to depression.

To start getting rid of our own voice of criticism, we must acknowledge it’s presence! This is also the voice of fear, anger, negativity and unknown within us. Can you think of a time when you came up with a great idea and were afraid to materialize, or act on it?

In most cases someone else eventually acts on the same novel. The effect on you is most probably a feeling of disappointment, depression, sadness, and you might even hear more of the same voice of blame and criticism. It seems you can’t escape this maze of negativity no matter what. A vicious circle; more like a psychological pain that might paralyze your life. As they say about alcoholism in AA, the inner voice is "cunning, devious, and powerful."

Most of the time the voice of blame looks like something like these:

"I do not do as well as others."

"If I do not do as well as others, it means I am inferior human being."

"My values as a person depends greatly on what others think of me."

"It’s definitely a great idea I have, but it’s sad that I’ll never get a chance to make it happen."

"People wont like it and as always it wont turn out well."

"I guess only intellectual pursuits are accepted and worthwhile."

"It seems like everything new I do will turn out wrong."

"No one would marry someone with an income like mine."

"I’m only appreciated by women if I hold an important position in a prestigious corporation."

"I can’t invite people over because the furniture is shabby."

"I can’t leave this house without my makeup."

"I’m not lovable unless I’m perfect."

"I will be and of course I deserve to be punished for my failures."

"Watch it, If I ever fail or disappoint someone on this idea, I’ll ruin someone’s life, a spouse, wife, boss, or colleague.."

"I should just shut up and maybe someone else will make it happen."

"No matter what I do it’s never good enough."; There must be something really wrong with me!"

Every time we make a mistake or get rebuffed, we might say: "There! I knew I couldn’t make it!"

Your unconscious negative assumptions, your self-defeating behaviors and beliefs are powerful blocks to your self-esteem and self-worth. Most important such beliefs are known to make you depressed, largely because they link your self-esteem with events that, large or small, are often outside your control.

The voice of blame might also destroy simple chances in life, stopping you from saying hello or making contact to someone that might lead to great interactions or even marriage.

More, the negative views one has of himself/herself and the world distorts how one interprets valuable feedback. It might affect how one defends himself/herself when he/she is critiqued and faced with challenging tasks. Each of these consequences may then result in the underestimation of competence and motivation.

 

Peer Pressure as Motivation Killer

It is what the unfriendly members of society use (through advertising and media) to control. We’re even more directly influenced by social messages. We try to conform to what society teaches us and seems to expect. If we can’t meet these ideals, because our bodies aren’t the right shape or we don’t have the money to buy the right whatever, we feel rejected and pessimistic.

The influence of peers begins early in life. However, it is not as significant as that of parents. If parents don’t encourage social activity by their kids, the children will take on the message that the outside world is inherently dangerous and they will set themselves up to be rejected. Whatever the cause, feeling shunned by other kids is one of the prime causes of both de-motivation and pessimism later in life and can also foster aggression and impair intelligence and reasoning ability.

Gifted kids do not understand bounds, family secrets and/or limits. We are all to some extent autonomous. People who are autonomy supportive influence others to treat them in a more autonomy-supportive fashion. Some of us are to some extent controlled in our behavior. This is also the desire of them that seeks or creates controls. People who are in personality and character more autonomous naturally have higher self-esteem. Furthermore, these people have more positive mental health and are more satisfied with their interpersonal relationships. The important point is that the innate personality and character of people is more determinant of the extent to which people’s behavior is autonomous, creative, vital, and intrinsically motivated. Even though the social context is enormously important in affecting people’s motivation and behavior, people’s personalities also affect their motivation and behavior.

Even though the environment has deep influence on people and their intrinsic motivation, we believe people can change all that. This book is all about teaching people how to begin to act more autonomously.

By behaving more autonomously, we like to show that is possible for all of us to become more proactive in making things happen for ourselves. The most important point is that it is all in our own control to ask from the social context more and more support for our own autonomy.

 

The source of Voice of Blame; why is it there? How do you get rid of it?

Unfortunately this voice could have been instilled in us in childhood. When kids do something wrong, what do parents say to them? What do their teachers say to them?

Kids listen carefully not just to content but to form and tone, not just to what adults say to them but how adults say it. This is particularly true of criticisms. Kids remember the criticisms they get, and use them to form their explanatory style.

Can you remember a time when an authority figure, parents, or uncle blamed you for not behaving in certain way? Do you remember his/her tone of voice? Unfortunately the tone of voice is more remembered than what was said. That tone of voice is daunting, harming, and must be vanquished. Most people carry this voice that is rooted in fear and holds us back, thinking it helps them avoid pitfalls in life. Nothing can be so untrue. This voice, tone of voice and guilt serve only to promote suffering and amotivation. These voices keep you captive and even exacerbate the lack of general interest. These self-defeating beliefs and behaviors are learned and can be unlearned.

To get rid of this voice you must first recognize how it operates on you. Unfortunately it operates different in each of us. Only you and you can disassemble it, pack it and send it for a long vacation. If it is your childhood voice, try to remember who said it. Try to remember his/her motive for saying it. Most of the time there are selfish reasons. Try to analyze those selfish reasons and make sure you will agree that it should not have been said to you. In second chapter we discuss the incubation stage where you develop child like observation skills and also mediation skills that can remove this voice effectively.

 

Removing Projection

Do the criticisms of yourself echo your criticisms of the other people? Psychologists have long been familiar with this phenomenon and they call it projection. When you project, you are attributing qualities that you are reluctant to recognize in yourself to others.

Projection and voice of blame sometimes work together to ruin our relationships with others. You not only hear these voices for yourself, you hear them for others too; these voices intrude into your relationships with others. You want others to hear yours and act on them. To know their presence and to pay attention to these criticisms allows you to put distance between you and them. Developing this new insights eventually enables you to get rid of your own voices of blame and also others too. Now that we blamed our authority figures for our own voice of blame, how should we behave with our own children. The next section can also give you some ideas as how to observe the world like a child. It is more about child-like observation and how children view challenge and motivation. When you read the next section, imagine you are the kid. Try to remember your own childhood events as your read below.

 

Developing Motivation in Children or in Yourself; Intrinsic motivation is the key to a child’s creativity

To develop child like observation skills we need all the insights and in depth understanding of children’s motivation aspects.

The destructive pressures that inhibit a child’s motivation occur early in life. According to Marianne Miserandino’s research, children come to believe in their competence or otherwise at a very young age, certainly by the third grade, and it has little or nothing to do with their actual achievements. Rather, it has to do with what is going on in their home life. Children in preschool or kindergarten are excited about exploring, learning and they love being in school. Why then, by the time they are in the third or fourth grade, many don’t like the school or their teachers. Here are some of the reasons psychologist give:

A) Most kids don’t like being watch or observed. Psychologist have realized that while a child is under scrutiny or constant observation, they lose their motivation, their creativity is at the lowest and they don’t respond well.

B) Kids don’t like being judged or worry how they are being evaluated. Rather than feeling or worrying about how others judge them, kids like to explore, be motivated, how to create, and mostly feel satisfied with their accomplishments.

C) Kids don’t know how to deal with excessive rewards, prizes, money, or toys. If these are overused, they will deprive kids from normal inside motivations.

D) Kids don’t like competition or win-lose situations. They hate it when only one kid or one group comes on the top. I recently saw the movie Mad Hot Ballroom. Here was the movie about Kids in New York learning how to dance Ballroom. When a group or a school won the competition, kids were confused. They thought they were better or equal. Their motivation was crushed. Letting kids to progress at their own rate is the key.

E) Kids hate being managed or ruled. What kills motivation, creativity and originality is telling kids exactly how to do things such as their schoolwork. They hate being told which activities they should engage in. They like to follow their own curiosity and passion and that is motivation. It is way better to support and allow a kid to choose his/her interests and inclinations. Kids hate pressure. They hate unreasonable expectations. To press or force kids to learn math or other skills before they show motivation and real interest will result in aversions, lack of motivation and it might even backfire.

F) Intrinsic motivation is the main key to a child’s creativity. Time is the crucial factor. The worst thing a teacher, an authority figure or parents can do against a child’s motivation and creativity is inhibiting a child of such time. One must cultivate and nurture this time.

Children are more naturally motivated or born motivated than adults. They get more pleasure from their natural motivation also. In this state, children don’t feel time; time doesn’t matter; timelessness is the state of moment. Adults do. It is this state of the moment that is more satisfying and comfortable for children. Adults are more concerned with time and are more conscious of the passage of time.

Children have abundant capacity to get themselves lost in the moment and whatever they’re doing in their natural inclinations. The biggest mistakes adults do is to interrupt these moments and get them out of deep concentration. When you were a child, did you ever remember you heard : ‘Enough, stop it, let’s go.’

Stopping this process when children are doing what they love to do because of time or other has the most devastating effect on children and their motivation. Adults need to give children the chance to continue with the activity for as long as it captivates their imagination, even if it lasts over days or weeks. What is even more stifling is that we have become fast food society where time is now even more pressed. We are now a hurry-up culture that again and again parents destroy children’s creative moments. Only teachers see how creative children are disturbed by ring of the bell while they are still in their creative moments. Children don’t feel the end is needed. Adults do.

As children do what they do over and over and over without concern for time, they become experts. They do small steps and small steps without thinking of end results. There is no end results . They just do and do the same task in a variety of different ways and naturally they perfect whatever it is they are doing. Repetition even though might seem crazy or aimless in the eyes of adults, help children perfect their skills. It allows children motivations to grow and become part of them.

The Capital Children’s Museum in Washington DC set out an effort in the city to find all those students who drove their teachers crazy because all they did in class was draw. The museum then organized several dozen of these young artists into several animation classes.

The Museum was able to show that those aimless hours the kids were spending drawing cartoons were not a "waste," at all as their parents and teachers assumed. It was actually an essential motivating step in mastering their craft.

The Museum classes provided a more effective and more motivating setting where the craft was highly appreciated and valued. Stanford psychologist Albert Bandura believes successful practice develops confidence, a motivating belief in oneself. He calls it self-efficacy, the sense that children can master challenges.

His research proves that children who have little self-efficacy are less motivated and are, understandably, more timid. This translates into little faith and in their ability to become successful adults. As they grow, they dislike taking risk. Risk taking is not a joy; it is actually frightening to them.

But those who are confident of their abilities, from a history of accomplishments, face life challenges with incredulous strength. Tackling something new, they are motivated with a strength that comes from having met and mastered many challenges before such as writing a poem, playing the piano, solving a quadratic equation, acting in a play, and so on. The unknown for this group is more like a challenge rather than a threat. They relish risk taking.

They dare to be original, motivated to try the most novel and the uncharted. Self-confidence also depends on the feeling that adults, parents and teachers have respect for one’s ability. What can undermine a child’s motivation, sense of confidence, effect self-doubt and insecurity, and destroy the self-efficacy of even the most able child is criticism.

That is the voice of the blame he will hear when he needs to try something new as an adult. The motivation spirit feeds on encouragement and shrivels with criticism. Letting children do things over and over in their own endless time is one way children build self-confidence; letting them know their work, how aimless it is with no results at end, is appreciated develops confident adults.

First Chapter Section 16

Alexander K. Katiraie BS, BA, MS, MBA

Mentoring Program

To reach me please call 424 200 2328 or email alexkatiraie@gmail.com