Listen with Curiosity, Not Judgment

Click here if you would rather listen to this article:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“We have the opportunity many times a day, everyday, to be the one who listens to others, curious rather than certain. But the greatest benefit of all is that listening moves us closer. When we listen with less judgment, we always develop better relationships with each other. It’s not differences that divide us. It’s our judgments about each other that do. Curiosity and good listening bring us back together.”  ~Margaret Wheatley

Where could you listen with more curiosity and less judgment? What difference might that make in the relationship?

Please share your thoughts, insights and questions below. Your participation provides wisdom that all can benefit from. Thank you!

Denise Yamada © 5/2011

The Secret to Expressing Your Love

I had to chuckle at the posting of one of my Facebook friends this morning: “Happy Hallmark Holiday to you!” Regardless of Hallmark’s marketing, I like the idea of setting aside a day to intentionally express your love. And there’s no reason why you can’t do this every day. Think of the possibilities! Imagine what your life—and the world—would look like if we each did this every day. It wouldn’t take much to do it. But there is a secret to expressing your love so that your loved one actually gets the message!

The secret is to speak the emotional love language that your mate, child, parent or friend speaks. In my work as a personal development coach, I’ve seen many breakdowns occur in relationships when one partner is speaking the equivalent of Mandarin when the other partner speaks English. I use as a resource a brilliant book by Gary Chapman called The Five Love Languages. Chapman says different people express love in different ways, and distinguishes these five specific languages of love:

  1. Words of Affirmation – these can look like unsolicited compliments, expressions of love and appreciation—written or verbal. This is my primary love language. You can imagine the effect my sweetheart’s Valentine’s Day message had on me! He wrote: “Being with you is the best part of being me. I love you more and more each and every day!” I love him completely…and love the way he loves me!
  2. Quality Time – this means giving someone your undivided, totally focused attention. This means no distractions like television or sporting event in the background. This is my son’s love language. Now I understand why, when he was little, he just wanted me to sit with him and watch him play—I didn’t even have to play with him—just focus my time, energy and attention on him and what he was doing at the time.
  3. Receiving Gifts – this love language is not to be confused with plain, old materialism; it’s putting thought, love and effort in selecting a gift for your loved one. This has him or her feel known and cared for.
  4. Acts of Service – this is simply doing things you know your loved one would like you to do. It can be something as basic as taking out the trash, making dinner, walking the dog. But the power in the act of service comes when it’s done with love and a willing and positive spirit; not because you have to or else. This is my daughter’s love language…and even after many years of practicing it, I am still amazed at how little acts of service so positively impact her and our relationship.
  5. Physical Touch – this love language isn’t all about sex, although it is part of it. It also includes holding hands, hugging, kissing, stroking the face and other caring touches. This is my sweetie’s primary love language (followed by a close second in Words of Affirmation). I know that he feels most loved when I express it physically, but it’s important that I do it on his terms, or as Chapman says, when I speak his dialect. For example, some folks love getting back rubs or body massages. My honey isn’t fond of massage, so that’s not in my repertoire.

This is just a brief explanation of each of the love languages. I highly recommend the book. I’ve seen it transform relationships!

What’s your love language? Please write me a note below and let me know! And may you be loved fully!

Things You Must Do to Make Me Happy

Really? No, not really. But it got your attention, didn’t it? Who is in charge of your happiness? You are! I got to thinking about this the other day when I was reading over the list my sweetheart gave me of things I must do to make him happy. Mind you—it’s just a fun little game we play. In fact, we have this pad that’s pre-printed with a list of about 200 things to choose from, including things like:

  • Read my mind
  • Proclaim your love
  • Switch the laundry
  • Remember what I tell you
  • Tell me I’m hot
  • Massage my ego
  • Massage my body
  • Tattoo my name on your arm
  • Wonder

…and lots of other fun, funny and even suggestive things! Then you get to demand them yesterday, immediately or from now on. And just in case, you can check “please,” “pretty please,” or “or else.” Now, we do it for fun, but it’s a great opportunity to take a look at what we expect from our loved ones and whether we hang our happiness on whether they comply.

Expecting others to make us happy is the old paradigm for life and relationship. It has never really worked well and if it does, it won’t work for long if you don’t take charge of your own bliss.

Your pleasure is the key to the life you want. If you don’t pay attention to what you want and what pleases you, you’re an empty shell. My apologies to The Doors, but “Come on, baby, light my fire” can be a recipe for big disappointment for you, and resentment for your partner. Happiness is an inside job! How will you light your own fire? If you fill your own life with joy, you automatically uplift everyone around you. You become a magnet for joy and other juicy things.

We’re all mere mortals, full of humanity and tender parts. Recently, I’d even forgotten to take my own life coaching! I’d gotten entrenched in filling a coaches training program, evaluating coaching calls, raising my children, earning a living—life. I’d forgotten to water my own flower, fill my own cup. I did a little of that, but it just wasn’t sufficient for the level at which I’d been operating in life: Big commitments, big measures, and big stress call for big fun, big joy and big pampering.

I’d put out so much love, time, energy and attention for others that I had this gnawing emptiness that even with all my training and experience I didn’t recognize until I was flat on my butt with those birds circling my head, wondering what the hell happened! Our culture tells us that we’re here to serve our mates, children, bosses, and jobs, and that alone should bring us happiness; that we should ignore our own needs and pleasure. I’m here to tell you that’s a bankrupt fairy tale.

I have recommitted to purposefully caring for myself and getting back to the business of bringing myself joy and pleasure. This is where you can practice with me. What brings you joy and pleasure? You might be asking, exactly what kind of pleasure are you talking about? There is no limit. Because I know you’re likely thinking it: Yes, sensual pleasure. But also musical pleasure. Spiritual pleasure. Emotional pleasure. Your work can bring you pleasure. (I adore my job!) Even the most mundane tasks like doing the laundry can light you up.

Whatever it is that gives you pleasure, do it with abandon. You might not know what pleasures you. It’s your job to find out—do not leave it to the man or woman in your life or leave it to chance, like “if it were meant to be, it will magically happen.” Nonsense. Try this on: “If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me!” Life is not a passive, spectator sport. You create your own passion and excitement. When you’re practicing that, you can have fun co-creating it with others, whether they’re lovers, business partners, friends, employers, children—you name it. Imagine the impact your joy could have on every area of your life. When you’re in love with yourself, you are more beautiful, more productive and apt to create exactly what you want!

I invite you to leave a comment below and share some things you’ll start today to create what you want!