Get Quiet and Listen

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Pay attention to when you're talking a lot. Do you feel anxious? If so, work on coping in other ways. How are you feeling? Are you feeling anxious? You can do things like count to 10 in your head or take deep breaths if you're anxious.

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You can also try giving yourself a pep talk before social events. Remind yourself that it's okay to be nervous, but you should relax and try to have fun. If social anxiety is a major problem for you, see a therapist to address it. Avoid speaking to impress others. In work situations especially, people tend to talk too much to impress others.

If you notice you talk a lot, think about whether you're trying to show off. Instead of going overboard talking about yourself, reserve your input for moments when you can contribute something valuable to the conversation. Focus only on the speaker. When in a conversation, do not look at your phone or glance around the room. Do not think about things like what you're going to do after work or eat for dinner that night. Direct your attention solely on the speaker. This will help you listen better, as you'll focus on what's being said.

If you find other thoughts creeping in, remind yourself to return to the present and listen. Eye contact shows you're paying attention.


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Meet the person's eyes as they talk. Eye contact conveys that you're paying attention and present. A lack of eye contact can come off as rude or disinterested.

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Keep your phone in your purse or pocket when talking to someone so you're not tempted to look elsewhere. Eye contact can also let you know if you're boring someone else. If someone breaks eye contact while you're speaking, you may be talking too much. Pause and give the speaker a turn. Think about what the speaker is saying. Listening is not a passive act. While the speaker talks, it's your job to listen to what they're saying. Try to withhold judgment while you do so.

Even if you disagree with what's being said, wait your turn to speak. Do not think about how you'll respond while the speaker is talking. Create images in your mind that represent what the speaker is saying. You can also try to latch on to key words and phrases while the speaker talks. Clarify what the speaker is saying. In any conversation, it will eventually be your turn to share. Before doing so, however, make it clear you were listening. Paraphrase in your own words what the speaker said and ask any questions you have.

Just rephrase your understanding of what they said. Also, keep in mind that active listening is meant to help you pay close attention to the speaker and let them know you are listening. Do not use active listening as a way to interject or make your opinions known. For example, say something like, "So, you're saying you are stressed about the upcoming office party. For example, say, "Where do you think this stress is coming from? Do you want to talk about that? You can express respect and validate their position without giving up your own position.

Express yourself when necessary. Do not take speaking less to mean not asserting and expressing yourself. If you have a serious concern, or an opinion you feel is important, do not hesitate to speak up.

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Part of speaking less is knowing when it is valuable to share. It's also important to share if your opinion could be valuable. If you, say, have a strong opinion about something at work, it can be beneficial to share with your boss and co-workers. Do not overdo eye contact. Eye contact is important. However, constant eye contact can come off as too intense. People do tend to associate eye contact with confidence and attentiveness, but overdoing it may make you appear distrustful.

It's appropriate to hold someone's eye contact for about 7 to 10 seconds and then look away for a moment. Asian cultures may find eye contact disrespectful. If you're meeting someone from a different culture, make sure to read up on social etiquette surrounding eye contact.

Keep an open mind when listening. Everyone has opinions and their own sense of what's right and normal. When you're listening very attentively to another person, they may sometimes say things you take issue with. However, while you're listening, it's important to keep judgment behind. If you find yourself making judgments about someone, pause and remind yourself to focus on the words.

You can analyze information later.


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  • When listening, just focus on the speaker and leave judgment behind. When I'm at school, I try to listen to my teacher talking, but then the person who sits next to me says something funny and I start talking to them. What can I do? If you are noticing you are becoming easily distracted in class and it is making it more difficult to focus on the teacher, then first respectfully ask the other person to not talk to you when the teacher is speaking. You can also try to ignore the other person sitting next to you while the teacher is speaking.

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    If these strategies don't work, then you can switch to a new seat where there is less distraction. Not Helpful 8 Helpful Listen actively, focusing on what the other person is saying. Don't think about what you'd like to say or what you plan on saying next; instead, just let the conversation unfold organically.

    Ask the listener questions about what he said to contribute or to clarify points to show that you are involved in what they're telling you. Not Helpful 6 Helpful How do I speak less and not be awkward around people because I'm not speaking?

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    This will help you to think about the next question or how to follow up the conversation in a more natural way. Don't get too stressed thinking about what to say next. If nothing comes up, it's fine. Not Helpful 2 Helpful But accomplishing things does generally require a fair amount of work, which usually means concentrating on the task at hand and not talking or engaging in other distractions while you're doing it. That doesn't mean you shouldn't talk when you're in social situations. Though even in social situations, it's important to listen, think and observe, not just speak mindlessly. Not Helpful 10 Helpful People actually enjoy people who are good listeners.

    Your friends may enjoy you more if you learn to listen. Not Helpful 7 Helpful Avoid conversation by taking detailed notes each time your teacher is speaking. I hate everyone in life, and I want to avoid speaking at all. How do I do this? Nod or shake your head when absolutely required. You know who I really appreciate? Those people with whom you can sit at a table and have a delicious meal and not feel uncomfortable when none of you has anything to say.

    I love people who can communicate with one another not just with words but also with silence. She kept going on and on and on and I honestly thought my head was going to explode because of all the noise she was making. I was amazed and irritated at the same time. She was talking so much and so loud but her words seemed so empty of meaning. You know that quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: A lot of times we just talk and talk but without actually saying anything.

    But is that really the way to go about it? Silence is a precious gift. When the mind is quiet, when there are no thoughts and no words to be said, we can hear our own heart talking to us.

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    We can hear our own soul and our own intuition. Herman Melville has a really beautiful quote that explains exactly what I mean: I have learned more from being quiet and from embracing silence than I have learned from thinking and from talking. Who says that you have to be thinking and you have to be talking all the time?