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Gaining Power Through The Discipline of Listening

Posted on June 17, 2015
Ben Merens

Today’s listening tip: Speaking gets you attention. Listening gives you power. Get powerful today. 6-17-15

So often we think that if we are controlling the conversation, that is to say that we’re the dominant voice, that we are controlling the information exchange. However, our strength truly lies in our ability to really hear what someone is saying to us; let them know that we heard them; and reap the benefits of being known as a trusted ear. Many people don’t feel heard on a daily basis…and often feel misunderstood if they are heard. You can be that honest listening broker simply by listening more than you speak; paying true attention to what is being said to you; and letting the people you listen to know that you heard them by how you respond to them. This is where true personal power lies — not to control others but to be known for your keen ability to get what others are saying.

Make Time Management A Priority

Posted on June 16, 2015
Ben Merens

Today’s listening tip: When time is limited, make sure to keep your stories focused and allow a friend time to share his/her story too. 6-16-15

We all like to “show and tell” but time forces us to have boundaries. And, when you take someone else’s time into account, you are showing him/her the ultimate respect. This holds true at work and at home. How often do you sit through a meeting that goes way over the originally allotted time period? More often than not, this is due to someone not respecting the time consideration of others.
The way to best do this, both at home and at work, is to prioritize what needs to be discussed, shared and/or worked on and get to it first. Saving the most important items/stories for last is a guaranteed time-drain and a surefire way to let someone know that you haven’t respected their time. There is no crime in being efficient and ending a meeting early — sometimes this allows for non-priority but real interesting stories to be shared. Respect someone else’s time today and feel his/her gratitude.

Making A World Of Difference By Sitting Still

Posted on June 12, 2015
Ben Merens

Today’s listening tip: In the sacred time that we have on this earth, you can make a world of difference by sitting still and listening to another. Sit very still today. 6-12-15

Getting somewhere in life doesn’t always mean that you must be moving. We can “travel” by sitting still and engaging with another and learning lessons from the stories they share. We make a difference by our presence not necessarily because of how many places we visit daily. Our time here is indeed sacred. You can be a blessing to another when you make time for them; hear them; and answer them. Sit still – breathe – listen. Have a great day.

Today’s listening tip: Choose to hear the good fortunes in your life today and you’ll truly be a rich man/woman. 6-11-15

You hold great power in your hands today. You can choose to focus on what is good or what is bad in your life. You can see what is working or what is broken. You can be positive or be negative. These basics truths are really quite powerful. They make the difference in how you live and feel about your life. They make a difference in how others view you. They make a difference in how others feel about you and speak about you. In other words, they make all the difference. I’m not talking about blind optimism here — Being centered in the real and the now is important but where is your focus? What are you shining light and attention on right now? You get to choose. I find that we get stuck sometimes in the “negative.” We can’t help but see what isn’t right in our lives or the lives of those around us. This doesn’t mean there isn’t good in front of you — but when we allow the “rut” to rule our perspective…the good gets lost. Need some help? — How about feeling good about being able to “hear” my message right now? How about feeling good about being able to see and read this? How about feeling good about your current breath? Please feel free to post one “thing” you can feel good about. Let’s share this and fire up a ton of positive energy through a shift toward looking at things with a more appreciative eye. It never fails me. I hope it helps you too.

Why Listening To Another Fully Can Change Their World

Posted on June 10, 2015
Ben Merens

Today’s listening tip: Listening is not a passive act. Lean forward into the messages of others and let them know you are present. 6-10-15

Great listening is difficult to do if you are busy doing something else and half-heartedly listening to someone else. Great listening is a full-body pursuit. It also can be a calming experience for you as when you focus on just being present and listening to another, all else gets put aside. This means that you actually “relax” into your listening to another (or yourself) and allow your breathing to deepen, your pulse to slow down, and your mind, heart & soul to center. And, the person you’re offering this listening experience to will pick up on the fact that you are giving so much of yourself to him/her. They will appreciate your effort. And, you will have made a major impact on the life of another. Now what else do you have to do today that is more important than this?

Today’s listening tip: In confrontation, anyone can hear their own position, real listening involves hearing your opponent. 6-9-15

This one is so much easier to write than for us to actually put into practice. When we are in conflict with someone, it is only natural to see the situation in an “Us vs. Them” scenario. But, if we can find the wisdom to see even the most contentious situations as an “Us” scenario, then the above tip is achievable. Actually, it is because we don’t actually see the other person as our “opponent” that we can truly hear them in the spirit of “Us.” I’m not saying this is easy or that I have found the way to do this as well as I would like to — but I know this is the right way to proceed when in conflict. Good luck and feel free to write me privately about how this is working for you. I’d like to hear your story. Ben.

Today I Said Good-Bye To A Dear Friend

Posted on June 8, 2015
Ben Merens

She died much too soon. Lauren Arnold was only 41 – Born and raised in Milwaukee, she moved to Phoenix and began a transgender journey of transformation from Lance to Lauren.

She lived as a pre-op female and donated time to a church that tended to gender-challenged teens trying to find their way. It was shortly after leaving “work” on May 17th when an apparently inebriated driver hit her traveling at 40 mph.

Lauren most likely would have died right then and there if it hadn’t been for the caring efforts of two trauma nurses who just happened to be driving by immediately after the accident. The two “angels” stabilized Lauren’s neck, opened her airway and kept her alive until she could be transported to the ICU of nearby Banner Hospital.

Lauren showed great progress in two weeks. She had two broken legs, two separate spinal injuries and severely bruised lungs. She found the strength to move her arm and acknowledge her brother Brent when he stood by her bedside.

However, infections set in and she had a stroke May 31st. All in all, the injuries were too much for this survivor. She was laid to rest back home in Milwaukee today (Monday, June 8th).

The funeral was well attended. Many family members and friends shaking their heads that she is actually gone.

As Lance, Lauren was a difficult person. He had some physical and emotional issues that demanded a lot of patience both from herself and those that knew her. I told her that I believed she was a much better person as Lauren than as Lance. She had more compassion for others and more patience.

She was my friend.

When she told me about her transgender journey and asked for my response, I answered honestly – as a white, heterosexual, married male – I didn’t know how to react. I ‘ve always thought of myself as open-minded…but Lauren’s journey was putting me to the test. I told her so. I also told her that she is my friend and that I’ll support her in any way I can.

She made inroads into the Phoenix-area transgender community. However, as often happened with my dear friend, she found ways to pollute many of her new friendships. As I said, she demanded people be most patient and understanding with her – some just couldn’t handle the work that was involved being friends with Lauren Arnold.

She always seemed to land on her feet. Ironically, she over-walked when she first got to Arizona and ended up in a hospital for a while. Her diabetes didn’t help the blood flow challenges in her sore feet.

She got out of “The Rock” as she referred to her rehab center and continued on her journey.

Just like at home where she found work at movie theatres, McDonalds and even as a blackjack dealer in a Milwaukee casino, Lauren found jobs in Arizona as well. She wasn’t one to hold on to her self-pity. She had it and then found ways to let it go.

She didn’t always know her boundaries and was probably too quick to trust others with her story. But I’m not sure if I’ve ever met a more honest person. She also was high-spirited and quick to be triggered to anger if she thought that you were making fun of her or putting her down for any reason.

All she was looking for was dignity and respect.

You know, that’s all most of us want out of each other and ourselves.

Many people wept today for the lost opportunities that no longer lay ahead to honor Lauren with their dignity and respect. She was an acquired taste and a challenging human being. But as I said, she was my friend and I’ll miss her dearly.

So why am I telling you all this? Because her life is full of lessons for those of us who still have ours. We can stop our quick rush to judgment over others who are different than us. We can stop holding grudges (justified or not) against family members, friends, neighbors, even former partners.

We can start living today with the same energy as we all wish to have on the final day of our lives. We can be our kindest self as often as possible. We can be willing to lend an empathetic ear to those in need of one – both friends and strangers alike.

We can live our lives so that we’ll have as few regrets as possible if one of our friends, loved ones, acquaintances, family members, etc. is taken all too soon from us – before we had a chance to tell them how much they mean to us.

For while tomorrow is promised to no one, today is full of possibilities.

Rest well my friend. Good-bye Lauren.

Today’s listening tip: Everyone has a story to tell – only you can choose to be the one to hear it. 6-5-15

Simple enough advice — yet so many of us think we don’t have the time to hear another’s story. We think we have too much to do and too little time to get our “work” done. Please re-think this every day when offered the chance to interact with someone and let stories be shared. Our time is more fleeting than we know — because we just don’t know how much time we have. We have the moment in front of us. This we know. And we can make a huge difference right now by giving our time and attention to another…and inviting him/her to do the same. Right now — because you can. (Thanks for listening today.)

Today’s listening tip: When someone asks you to sit down and talk with them, make the time for them and you. 6-3-15

When you give your time to another and allow their voice to be heard and their existence to be validated…you are rewarding two people — the one you hear and yourself. This a most righteous “win-win” as you can’t listen enough to all the people who need your ear and you also will reap huge rewards of information when you pay close attention to what everyone says to you. Happy listening.

Hear With An Open Heart … Listen With An Open Mind

Posted on June 2, 2015
Ben Merens

Today’s listening tip: Hear with an open heart…and listen with an open mind. 6-2-15

Keeping on open mind is a tremendous challenge for many of us. We are full of predispositions, prejudices and a surety that we know the “right way.” However, when we hear with an open heart, the mind is apt to follow and let our minds see old pictures with new eyes and a fresh viewpoint. Good luck today.