Category Archives: Heart

How to Solve the Listening Problem

Getting Men Out of the “He Just Doesn’t Listen” Box

There are some things that just don’t seem to change for the majority of people. One such thing is the idea (some women would say “reality!”) that “men just don’t listen” to women.

“Why don’t men just shut up and listen??” Is what most women seem to be saying in magazines, movies and music. Men think they listen just fine. Maybe we are missing something – what exactly women want men to listen to, and how they want men to respond | Photo by paladinsf

I think many couples never move past the issue because men actually think they listen well enough, and their complaining companions can’t seem to explain what exactly she means by “you need to listen more.”   Clearly there is a problem.

Well, I have been reading and based on a study recently published by the American Psychological Association, I certainly believe that a huge part of the communication problem, is wrapped up in the way women describe the “he doesn’t listen” problem.

“Just shut up and listen more!” may not be the answer. The study would suggest that women are not impressed or impacted with HOW MUCH a man listens per se. What matters most is first, WHEN (or to what issues) a man listens (pays real attention). Second, WHAT he feels (appears to feel) when he hears what is shared.

When Listening Matters Most

The study has a horribly long name  – “Eye of the Beholder: The Individual and Dyadic Contributions of Empathic Accuracy and Perceived Empathic Effort to Relationship Satisfaction” by Shiri Cohen, PhD of the Harvard Medical School and others.

What it says though is simple: it matters to women when men react to their particular emotions. So listening matters especially when emotions are stronger.

“Relationship satisfaction was directly related to men’s ability to read their female partner’s positive emotions correctly…Also, when men understood that their female partner was angry or upset, the women reported being happier, though the men were not.”

What Does Listening Mean (to Women)

Women do not just want an available ear – they want empathy. A show of common concern. A display of feeling, felt pain, understanding and compassion.

“The findings also show that the more men and women try to be empathetic to their partner’s feelings, the happier they are. The authors suggest that this research should encourage couples to better appreciate and communicate one another’s efforts to be empathetic.”

It is not good enough to have heard what she has said, it must be clear that you have also felt what she has said.

Why Does this Type of Listening Matter

“It could be that for women, seeing that their male partner is upset reflects some degree of the man’s investment and emotional engagement in the relationship, even during difficult times” the study’s lead author, Shiri Cohen is reported as saying.

“This is consistent with what is known about the dissatisfaction women often experience when their male partner becomes emotionally withdrawn and disengaged in response to conflict,” said Cohen.

Its About Good Times Too

People with cheer-leading partners are much happier. Well think about it, aren’t you happy when someone celebrates your achievements? | Photo by PRINCESS THEATER – Raising the Curtain

Things get interesting –  its not just about when she is sad. Apparently people (both women and men) have a higher relationship satisfaction status when their partners blow horns and shoot fireworks in support of their successful ventures.

Another study reports that “People with cheerleader-partners report high relationship satisfaction.”

I cannot help but point to the obvious fact that the bible got this right eons ago: “Be happy with those who are happy. Be sad with those who are sad.” (Romans 12:15) Simple but sensible tip.

For the Road

Want to get out of the “he just doesn’t listen” box? Take this with you:

  1. Open your ears especially wide when she is sharing about her pain, struggles, hardships etc.
  2. Show on your face, in your actions, by your follow up questions, by your emotional response that you are listening and taking a real interest.
  3. For both men and women: Be supportive when things go great – when good news comes, celebrate!

Well what do you think? Please share.

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Is Everything Alright In Your Heart?

One Question You Should be Asking Yourself and Those You Care About.

[dropcap style=”1″ size=”3″]D[/dropcap]o not fool yourself. What matters most in your life today is not your age, your race, your class, your upbringing or your address – per se. What matters most is not your membership in a church or any religious sect, your level of educational attainment, the size of your professional network or your overall net worth.

The heart of the matter, of every matter in your life today, is the matter of the heart. Either what is going on in your heart, or the hearts of those around you. Open your eyes to the fact that things do not “just happen” | Photo by Alfonsina Blyde »

What matters most today in your life is what is going on inside your heart.  Life is not about what you have learnt in school or think you know – it is about what you value. Not what you think you value, but what really consumes you.

To miss this, is to think you are heading West, when in fact you are heading East.

The Heart is the Issue

I am currently doing my legal internship – doing criminal defence work. As I attend court and observe the gory details in each case – the more I realize how driven people are by what they “feel”, what they “want”, what they think “should have been theirs.”

It is the same with you and I. Your good and bad actions are not the result of your birth month or sign. It all comes from what we call the heart. That is why I love Andy Stanley‘s question “Is everything alright in your heart?”

What is Your Heart?

Oxford struggles to define heart in a way helpful to us. They come closest when they say it is “the central or innermost part of something.” The bible constantly refers to the heart – the definition there refers to the “inner man”, the mind and will.

These are huge philosophical concepts that can easily bog you down. Nobody knows where the heck the mind is. Don’t let that bother you.

Just note, that according to Andrew Wildes, your heart is what makes you do stupid or smart things, saintly or sinful things. It is the very centre, the deepest most significant part of who you are. What exist when you put all your emotions, desires, thoughts and intentions together.

Your Heart is Not Your Brain

Your brain knows it’s not best to eat ice cream at night. Your heart thinks/feels/ strongly that you deserve/need/should have ice cream now.

Your brain knows to answer that call is going to ruin your day. Your heart just wants to hear that voice or thinks that today will be the day when things are different, or just cannot say no.

Your Heart Needs Guarding

My favourite book, the book of Proverbs says Guard your heart above all else (or with all diligence/vigilance) because it determines the very course of your life. It calls the heart the “wellspring” of life – the very source from which all actions flow.

Interrogate Your Heart

We know what it is. Why it needs guarding. This is what I urge you to do: question yourself regularly.

If you haven’t recognized – most of the post on this blog are aimed at getting you to interrogate yourself about yourself. Why? To encourage you to get to the heart of your life. You can easily do it to your closest friends too.

Here are some of the question that Andy Stanley asks about this. I think they form a good foundation for you to build on.

1. Is everything ok in your heart.

2. Are you mad at anyone?

3. Are you waiting around for someone to come to you to make things right?

4. Have you had any extended imaginary conversations with anyone lately?”

5. Do things come out of your mouth on a regular basis that you have to apologize for?

6. Have you secretly celebrated someones failure?

7. Anything going on you hope no one discovers?

8. Is there a question you hope no one ever asks you?

9. Have you lied recently to someone you love?

Do you make a habit of interrogating your heart?.

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There Are No Ordinary People

Stop, Look, Listen: Three Simple Steps to Appreciating the Wonder of People Around You

I am in Washington D.C. as a member of the Washington Foreign Press Center’s ‘Youth in Politics’ reporting tour 2012. Over the next 10 days, I, along with journalists from 33 other nations, will be exploring the role of the youth vote in the 2012 U.S. Presidential elections.

We may all look the same - like the three glasses of blue stuff. We are all that one outstanding glass of wonder however. There are ordinary buildings; as great as they are, they all rot and weaken and are no more. There are no ordinary people however, not if you believe, Like C.S. Lewis, that we all have an eternal soul. | Photo by nickwheeleroz

As I packed for my trip on Saturday night, I listened to ‘ Lessons from an Inconsolable Soul’a biographical overview of the life of C.S. Lewis, by John Piper. The implications on my thoughts now that I am sitting in the heart of “the most powerful nation in the world”, is staggering. Continue reading There Are No Ordinary People

Tell Mr. Lonely – The Best Place to Find A Girl These Days

Why Social Media May Be A Godsend For Guys Who Love Shy Girls

The alpha male types will always boast of how easily they can approach and speak to any women “in real life.” How they know the mind of a woman. How suave and unafraid they are, no matter the girl. Chino (of Yendi Phillips fame) even has a song on it:

[media url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Picgj30s9jg” width=”600″ height=”400″ jwplayer=”controlbar=bottom”]

Well, not everyone is as gifted as Chino (*insert Asafa Powell joke*). On both the male and female end, there can be unending bumbling over words, palms that sweat like rivers – you name it. Some people just struggle at interacting with people of the opposite sex they find attractive. Continue reading Tell Mr. Lonely – The Best Place to Find A Girl These Days

Marriage Looking Doubtful? Please Choose Option # 3.

An Uncommon Perspective on How to View and Respond to A Life of Singleness.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/johnpiper/statuses/107860033366269952″]

That tweet by John Piper on the 28th of August 2011, had already been retweeted by over 100 people on the 5th of September 2011 when I first saw it and was inspired to write this piece.

Some people, probably you, will choose (or be forced) to go the long journey of life alone. Single or alone does not necessarily mean lonely, sad and unsuccessful however. | Photo by Craig Sefton

The tweet got me curious. I asked myself “how does getting married or staying single affect whether you maximize your life?” Continue reading Marriage Looking Doubtful? Please Choose Option # 3.