Today I have brought you an article from the category: Knowledge we don’t actually need in everyday life and that is precisely why we keep it in mind.
Those who know me well know that ornithology has long been close to my heart and that in this context I make a tiny contribution to improving the climate, at least in my garden. Recently, when I was looking for a gift for a friend with whom I share a passion for observing wild birds, I came across the German book “The Names of European Birds” by Viktor Wember. It is scientifically structured, with a lot of diverse information and an attempt to derive or explain both the German and scientific names of the birds.
The other day a client asked me: How exactly does good listening work?
Actually, it’s quite simple: listening is always about the other person. Always….Listening has something to do with turning towards the other, with openness towards the other‘s world. And with my willingness to do so.
Are you one of those people who think meetings are a waste of time? You could work so well if it weren’t for those constant discussions. And then the behaviour of the “fellow-meeters”: you start to relate something and are impatiently interrupted. “Why don’t you get to the point? We don’t have all day.” Or they pick out one aspect of your contribution and react exclusively to it, perhaps even with suspicion. Or a participant explains to you for the umpteenth time what you already know and have known for a long time. Or you are told: “That won’t work”, coupled with body-language reactions of devaluation, and your ideas are brushed aside. And so on, and so on…
She was already there when I occupied my allocated hospital bed. She had already been there for some time, for five days. And she was in a bad way. She quickly found in me a compliant victim for her protracted medical history. I was a good listener after all.
Inspired by Max Frisch’s questionnaires, the questions below are meant to invite you, dear reader, to reflect on how you deal with breaks. Perhaps you would like to look more closely at one or two of the questions. Perhaps one question in particular concerns you. Take a conscious break and write down what comes to your mind about the questions. In this way learn how you treat interruptions. By reflecting on the questions, you will learn more about your attitude towards “downtime” and whether or not you want to change your specific behaviour. The collection is subjective. Maybe there are other other issues about this topic that you refelect on. There is so much more to discover…
“Everything is always there in her. Past and future she knows not. The present is her eternity.” (Georg Christoph Tobler on nature)
Do you own a garden? I see it as a place of diversity and also of evolutionary anarchy. Or can you get out into “nature”, woods, fields, vineyards without much effort? If you can’t, you can also hear them in the city. Because if you listen carefully, you will notice that the air is once again filled with a multi-faceted cacophony! The birds are getting into the act and making as much noise as leaf blowers usually do, only nicer. In his book of that name published in 2015, Bernd Brunner writes of “Birdmania” to which, I confess, I too have been addicted for very many years. But, I am fine. Thank you for asking.
Isn’t “let go” a wonderful expression? In German it has a special meaning for yeast dough: allow it to rise. Only when yeast dough is allowed to rise long enough, i.e. to ferment away in peace, will it grow (ideally even doubling and tripling its volume) and thus develop into the basis for a delicious loaf of bread or a special cake. If it is not allowed to rest, the bread will become firm, flat and sometimes even moist inside. I have baked many loaves – believe me, you don’t want to eat bread like that.
When I met a client (an executive in a German corporation) for coaching shortly before Christmas, she told me with a tired expression on her face: “Yesterday I had continuous virtual meetings or phone calls from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm and not a single break! And not for the first time.” And when international time shifts are added to the mix, the first meetings can start even earlier and the last ones end very late. I asked her why she let them do that to her. She looked at me in surprise because she hadn’t thought about whether there was anything wrong with it.
I have been working as a leadership coach for many years. Every few weeks, I go in this role to a monastery with managers who have lost their jobs. In the workshop we work on the themes of inner images, the future, failure, fear, hope and so forth.
They have been dismissed because of a personal conflict, have fallen victim to restructuring or have themselves decided to leave the company. What the participants have in common is that they previously had power over others and now have lost it. Until now, they had been used to developing visions, strategies and concepts and making decisions for others. Now, others have often decided over them.