do you see? do you hear?

When you meet someone, or even in your daily encounters with those you know, do you “see” them? Do you recognize them as individuals with dreams, passions, hopes, problems, and fears? Or are you only seeing the veneer?

When they talk with you – do you really “hear” them, listening for meaning beyond their words or even in spite of the words? Or do you just hear what you want to hear? Or do you even hear them at all?

To truly respect others, we need to see them for who they really are and as much as our limited abilities allow us and to actually listen to them with humility so that we hear the meaning behind their words and to not miss what is not being said. We owe that to one another.

By the way, busyness is a lazy person’s excuse for not seeing or listening to others.


“Active Listening” – Seth Godin

8 communication tips

Good morning!

Would you agree with me that communication is difficult at best? We all listen with so many of our “filters” on that sometimes I am astounded that communication happens at all. Then you add to that how ineffectively so many of us are in trying to communicate. In so many employee surveys poor communication is so often at the top of the issues listed.

And most of the time it’s not poor intent. People do want to communicate with others. The problem is that communicating is a skill – a skill that we need to master.

In the article “8 Ways to Improve Your Communication Right Now“, Kevin Daum lists these eight ways to improve our skill in communicating:

1. Have One Conversation at a Time

2. Look People in the Eye

3.  Ask Two Questions

4.  Write Things Down

5. Read and Respond to the Entire Email

6.  Create a Response Schedule

7.  Assume Best Intentions

8.  Close the Loop

It’s a good article – click here to read it in its entirety.

Blessings on your day!


Are You Willing To Change Your Mind?

Good morning,

I was at an excellent presentation on leadership by George Barna yesterday. He spent time talking on some of his material from his book Master Leaders (great book by the way and worth adding to your library).

If you have been following my posts lately, you will notice I have mentioned several times the importance of listening. During his talk today about all the master leaders he interviewed, they were unanimous in their contention that listening is one of the most important, if not the most important, skills of a leader. Yet it is the one most often missing.

One quote he used was from Ken Blanchard – “You cannot listen effectively unless you are willing to have your mind changed.” Quite a statement and it really struck me. Too many times I really am not willing to have my mind changed, regardless of what the other person says (I am not talking about core beliefs right now). So, was I not really listening effectively? Probably not.

What do you think?


Four Components to Listening Better

Good morning! Getting a bit nippy here in northeast Indiana.

Listening well is a skill and one many of us have yet to master. It is a weakness of mine that God has convicted me of so I am trying to develop this critical skill. Fortunately Ambassador not only places a great value on this skill, they also teach you how to listen.

One tool they have is the four components of effective listening. (click here to read Ambassador’s article on this subject)

  1. To hear is to focus all of my senses on what the speaker is communicating, making it as easy as possible for him to say what he means and to have confidence in my full attention.
  2. To understand is to comprehend what the speaker means. This has nothing to do with evaluation or agreement; that comes later. I should be able to communicate back what they said to their satisfaction.
  3. To consider is to evaluate what difference his input should make in what I feel, think, or do.
  4. To give feedback is to expose how I will consider her input and to express appreciation for it. This can be done immediately, even before I have had time to thoroughly consider all of the implications of the input. Later, I can expose how I have incorporated it into my thinking and what I have done or will do as a result.

Start incorporating these four components into your listening and see how much more effective you become.

Have a great week serving our Lord!

Effective Listening Begins With . . .

Are you a good listener? Personally I struggle with being a good listener. I am much better than I was, but still not that good. So, I am trying to learn how to listen.

Do you ever have the problem of preparing what you are about to say while the other person is still talking? Do you ever go into a conversation completely sure of your position and instead of having a conversation, you and the other person are just trading statements? So how do we become better listeners?

We begin with a key concept – humility. Yep – humility. It is key to us being able to truly listen to another person. Check out this article on listening on Ambassador’s Engage site:

Humility says:

  • My perspective is incomplete (wrong) and I need others to complete it.
  • You and your communication have value.
  • Your message is worthy of being understood.
  •  I cannot judge the value of your message until I understand it.
  • I do not understand your message until you say I do.

So, to truly listen to someone as you seek understanding, the place to begin is with a humble attitude. Practicing humility will make you a better listener.


Listening to Understand

Good afternoon – still haven’t quite gotten back into my rhythm of posting yet. A move really shakes things up!

As I mentioned before, as part of my orientation here at Ambassador Enterprises is the reading of and reporting on a series of excellent books. The one I just finished was To Understand Each Other by Paul Tourner. The focus of this book is understanding each other in the context of marriage, but so much of it is applicable to other relationships as well.

He goes beyond simply hearing or even listening to working (hard) to understand one another. The first criteria he mentions is that we must actually want to understand the other person in order for it to happen. That really struck me hard – you have to want it! It just doesn’t happen, so I began to ask myself if I truly desired to understand others. You should also seek to first to understand others before you seek to be understood. An others first mentality.

Courage is also key in understanding one another. Are you courageous enough to expose yourself to someone else that you are close to and are seeking to understand? Are you willing to let them really see you as you are? That takes courage – even between husband and wife.

At some level, we all want to be truly understood by someone – we want to be known by someone. To do that, you have to be very, very intentional. Also, it is a journey, not a destination.

So “be strong and very courageous” and seek to truly understand those closest to you and to be understood. Your life will be so much richer and effective as a result.


What Did You Say?

Last Friday was a tough day in our family as we said goodbye to our little 15-year old dachshund Frieda. She brought us a lot of joy and laughter and the house seems a little bit emptier now. She is no longer hurting, but we are just a bit now. 

Question for you, have you ever been in a conversation with someone and wished they would just listen for a minute? Instead of having a dialogue, you are listening to a monologue? You knew that if they just stopped and truly listened then they would actually understand what you are trying to say.

The problem is, that we are too often the ones giving the monologue! Sometimes it is “out loud”, but often, we are giving an internal monologue. Instead of listening to the other person for understanding while they are talking we are actually using that time to rehearse what we are going to say next. So, while it may appear outwardly that a conversation is taking place, in truth it is a monologue – or two monologues taking place at once!

Listening is a skill that can be learned. But even more than a skill, it is an attitude – it is an attitude of caring for others and esteeming them more than yourself, it is an attitude of humility, and ultimately it is a key characteristic of a true servant leader.

So – do you have a “listening” attitude?

Click here for a good article on the four key components of listening.

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” Proverbs 10:19

So today, take heed of God’s Word, restrain your lips, and focus on and care for the one who is trying to communicate with you. Listen!

Blessings on your day & upcoming week,

Seeking Understanding

Good morning – we sure are needing some rain here in southwest Michigan!

As the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters I often enjoy reading the “Proverb of the day”. In chapter 18 today is something that really strikes me:

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”


I so often am more interested in sharing my own opinion rather than listening and seeking to truly understand the other person. That means I am often a fool! That is a sobering thought.

So how about it – are you more interested in sharing your opinion than listening to and seeking to understand the other person? While someone is talking are you listening intently or are you already preparing your “statement”?

Be wise as the Lord would have us be – be more focused on understanding than having to share your opinion.

Blessings on your day today!

Do You Have To Explain?

Good morning from beautiful Florida!  It sure is noce to be here after the snow and cold of Michigan.

Question for you – do you ever miss out on good input or counsel because you are too busy explaining yourself?  I found myself doing that yesterday.

We have a tremendous Board of Directors.  Godly and wise people and we only have so much of their time each year.  Of course they don’t have all the context they need when talking with us (staff) and there is not enough time to catch them up on everything.  So, sometimes they are making suggestions we have considered or already or doing and so on.  So at times I found myself “defending” or explaining things that ate up precious time and really did not add to the meeting.

I should have simply accepted the input without feeling the need to explain. I would have been blessed by that, it allows the Board more time to give input and feel more valued and so on.

Do you ever miss out on great counsel, great conversation and etc. by wanting to “explain” yourself?  For me, I believe that actually falls into the area of “image management”.

So don’t miss out on great input from others by talking when you should be listening or managing your image when you should be taking n counsel so that you may grow.