Theme of the Week – More Listening Less Talking

sticky-noteI’m changing up my Monday post to see if we can’t shake things up a little bit.

I’ve been struggling with 30 day challenges. They work well on tangible things like no sugar for thirty days, but when dealing with social aspects of work and our emotions, 30 days is just too long to focus. Especially for me. My ADD just kicks in and after a week I’m back to my normal routine.

So I’ve attempted a method that seems to work better for me. I have had a theme of the week for the past few weeks and it has worked well. My last theme was “relaxing my muscles at work.”

I wrote 3 sticky notes with that message and applied it in 3 locations:

1. My bathroom mirror.
2. Inside of my wallet.
3. My office desk.

That way there was always a reminder nearby.

This week my theme of the week is to do more listening instead of talking. I feel like lately I’ve been waiting for people to stop talking so that I can start talking.

Very bad habit.

So this week I’m doing more listening. I mean really listening with my ear drums, eyes, and thoughts. We’ll see how it goes.

I want it to be a more sensory experience instead of just trying to catch all the words and move on.

I’ll update you in the Hard, Fun and Beautiful post.

What about you? Have you ever thought about having a theme of the week?

Let me know in the comments section, what would be a good theme (personal or career development) that could help you become happier at work?

Are you on Twitter? Then check me out at @workhappynow. I give stress relief tips, happiness ideas, and thought provoking quotes.

* Charlie of Productive Flourishing nailed it square between the happiness eyes with his post Your Happiness Counts.

If you enjoyed this post then you will probably like this one too:

Day 1of 30 – No complaining

11 thoughts on “Theme of the Week – More Listening Less Talking”

  1. You know Karl, I don’t like to admit it, but I think I need to remind myself to do more listening and less talking too. Maybe I’ll try your method and write little reminders for myself. 🙂

  2. Themes are a great way to go. Whether it’s daily, weekly, monthly or yearly, themes help create focus.

    I originally called my approach “30 day improvement sprints”, but the problem was, it’s not about 30 days. It’s really about setting an overall theme for the month. So now I just call it, “monthly improvement sprints.” This way I don’t have to track the days, I just ride the calendar. Each month is a fresh start (or a repeat if I choose.) Within the month, I pick themes for the week.

  3. Karl,
    Listening is a great skill to work on. And even when we listen, are we really listening? Active listening means you are there, really taking in what is being said. And that is very good – it makes the other person feel valued and important. And when they feel that way, you’ve just gained an ally…

    I’ve never done a weekly theme. One idea I do try to focus on, though – is being “in the moment”. If I can fully be taken into each of the moments of my day – those moments take on more meaning, and my focus is more directed toward exactly what I am doing.

  4. Before I forget: thanks so much for the kind words and the link.

    I think themes are a great way to go, but I’m also curious about how you chunked your 30 Day challenges. You’re absolutely right that they’re easy to do for some things like eating less sugar, but harder for the higher perspective things. What does a 30 Day challenge of “be more generous” look like?

    Maybe it was ADD, but maybe it was also that the intentions of the 30 Day challenges weren’t mated up with actions to manifest those intentions. “Be more generous” might include: volunteer at the homeless shelter for an afternoon, clean out the closets and donate stuff to the goodwill, sponsor a child at the Christmas tree thing at the mall, spend one focused afternoon playing with the kids, etc. (Sorry, I’m now hardwired to translate meaning into action and can go overboard…)

    “More Listening, Less Talking” is a way in which you’ve given a broad enough theme to allow some intuition and flexibility, but the verbs (actions) are carrying the weight. I’m curious – can you come up with another theme next week in the social dimension and build some momentum by stringing them together?

    And we can all do more listening and less talking. Maybe I should have thought about that before I started commenting?

  5. That is one excellent theme! So often it is true we are just not present for each other, we think we are listening, but most of the time we are getting ready what we are going to say next.

    We just don’t give the other person(s) the space to be truly heard, and the presence from us that they deserve. I will so be keeping this theme in mind this week myself Karl – thank you!

  6. I think my work theme this week (and until it happens) might be “get a job!” (smile)

    I loved your theme idea, and one week is a really great, manageable chunk of time for many people; me, included. Like you, I grow bored, listless, and want to move on or revert to old habits a few days after trying something new.

    Listening is so very important, and a real gift that you end up giving to whoever is talking. Good for you! I can’t wait to hear about it on Friday.

    Happy Monday!

  7. Hi Marelisa, Let me know how the little reminders work out for you.

    Hi J.D. Picking themes by the week for each month is a great idea. I bet it’s a great way to stay focused.

    Hi Charlie, I do need to do a better job of defining my goals and making them actionable. It’s not easy, but that’s what it takes to be productive.

    Hi Evita, By fully opening ourselves to what someone says to us we are opening to a new world. I can’t wait to review when I’m done.

    Hi Megan, We need to create plans that we can actually follow through on. Too many times we have good intentions and fail. Maybe I’ll even break down the theme of the week into daily focus points. Hmmmmm.

  8. Hi Karl,

    It shows a lot of self-awareness that you recognize when you have not been fully attentive in the listening portion of communications. I’m betting that most people have probably had the experience of impatiently waiting for another person to finish speaking so we can have our say–and worse still spending all that time figuring out what we’re going to say rather than actually listening to what’s been said, yet we feel quite disrespected and devalued when we’re on the receiving end of such behavior. Good communication also seems to require careful observation of and responses to all the non-verbal cues and messages that are conveyed as part of the conversation.

    I think the theme per week is a good idea. What if you had a theme per month, and for each theme there were 4-5 measurable actions so that you (or others) could focus on one action for each week within the month? Just a thought, but maybe it’s something that could be collected and collated into a package of ideas or exercises for readers or client companies.

    Keep up the great work and thanks for all the great posts.


  9. Yes I believe in themes. I had declared for myself “30 days Judgment free” It was powerful! I may do it again this year and this time put it on my blog.

    Listening…something I think we all could use a lesson in! We were given 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason…or so I’m told 🙂

  10. Hi Karl — thanks for this — I actually do the same with post-it notes that usually have to do with my breathing or posture — I’ll remind myself to breathe into and relax areas that don’t get a lot of attention from me, like my lower back.

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    Less talk,less mistake! I always believe in that. Anyway, good communication always starts at good listening. In an interaction, you must listen many times rather than talking. That’s the time your conversation will be more interesting for both of you.

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