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“With money in your pocket, you are wise and you are handsome, and you sing well, too.” ~ Yiddish Proverb

Take this short, three-question, multiple choice quiz from the Atlantic Monthly

  1. Suppose you had $100 in a savings account and the interest rate was 2 percent per year. After five years, how much do you think you would have in the account if you left the money to grow? A) more than $102; B) exactly $102; C) less than $102; D) do not know; refuse to answer.
  2. Money_is_a_Beautiful_Thing_by_fotophiDo you think that the following statement is true or false? “Buying a single company stock usually provides a safer return than a stock mutual fund.” A) true; B) false; C) do not know; refuse to answer.
  3. Imagine that the interest rate on your savings account is 1 percent per year and inflation is 2 percent per year. After one year, would you be able to buy A) more than, B) exactly the same as, or C) less than today with the money in this account?; D) do not know; refuse to answer.

The correct answers are 1-A; 2-B; and 3-C.

How did you do? Did you respond correctly to all three questions? If you did, then you belong to a shockingly small global minority.

If you got all three correct and live in Russia, you have very little company – only 4% of the population got all three answers right; in Sweden only 21% were spot-on; in Japan, 27%. In the United States only 30% of the population got all three answers correct. What’s up with that?

How the brain develops structurally, how it’s affected by stress, and how it fails to learn how money works both personally and globally lies at the root of such dismal performance in my estimation.

Why Your Money Brain Loves to Eat the Marshmallow

One significant difference between the brains of the 10% who own 85% of the wealth in America and the other 90% of us is that when it comes to money, the 10% know the value and importance of something called “delay discounting.” Delay discounting is the tendency for far off outcomes to have less value than what’s pleasurable right now. Distant benefits affect the pleasure centers in our brain very differently than immediate ones do. One famous example of delay discounting is Walter Mischel’s marshmallow experiments at Bing Nursery School on the Stanford University campus. Kids were given the choice to eat one marshmallow immediately, or wait while the experimenter left the room; they would get to eat two marshmallows when he came back. All kinds of benefits accrued in later life to the kids who were able to exert strong impulse control and not immediately gobble up the single marshmallow.

With respect to money, the feel-good chemicals produced in the brain by buying things today, doesn’t feel anywhere near as good as saving that money and watching it grow through investments and compound interest year after year.

The Good Money News

The good news is that we know that neural plasticity can change the way those two different experiences feel in the body and brain. So, for example, we can begin learning and practicing doing simple things with small amounts of money that do manage to stimulate the pleasure centers in our brain and at the same time, contribute to our personal sense-reality of wealth and well-being. Whatever the brain pays increasing attention to tends to expand.

Diffusion_Tensor_Imaging

The Enchanted Loom

In my own case, I take 10% of every dollar I earn and invest it in something I consider to be a potential appreciating asset (something that will gain in value, as opposed to a depreciating asset which turns out to be what most of us spend our money on). Investing in appreciating assets can transform our spending from “hot” to “cool.” One thing I invest in is new books about neuroscience. Learning about how my brain works makes it both feel better and work better – buying neuroscience books pays me big dividends in the dopamine delivery process (dopamine is the predominant neurotransmitter most closely connected to pleasure). Not only does my knowledge increase, but so does my creativity, which is an additional great source of pleasure.

There are added pleasure benefits as well from this small financial investment: over the years I have managed to build out the pleasure centers in my brain through performing community service. That’s primarily what this blog and The Enchanted Loom are about: I’ve sufficiently changed my brain so that it derives great pleasure from being of service to the world. When it comes right down to it, much of life is about feeling good, and the good news is that money can be placed into creative service to sculpt the pleasure centers of the brain in precisely that fashion. Stay tuned to find out more about exactly how.

Last Novelty Reminder: Be sure to check out this week’s “Book Review in Pictures” – The Enchanted Loom!

Mine was a class in Social Psychology taught by Dr. David Schiffman at SUNY New Paltz. The first day of class I found myself surrounded by 26 other students – none of whom I knew – who were all at least a half dozen years younger than me – 20 and 21 to my 27.

desk_chairsAt the start of the semester, Dr. Shiffman walked in, handed out a syllabus and announced the name of the class – The Social Psychology of Tavistock Groups. Then he sat down at the front of the room in a desk-chair exactly like the ones we were sitting in. And for the next two hours, that’s ALL he did. He didn’t say another word. At most, he crossed and uncrossed his legs now and then, answered no questions, and only occasionally made eye contact with a student here or there around the room.

As you might guess, most of the students in the class, including me, found this approach to teaching somewhat confusing; not to mention anxiety-producing (to those it didn’t piss off).

The next class – now reduced in numbers to about 22 – found Dr. Schiffman offering us a bit more “instruction.” About every 20 minutes or so over the two hours he would make a dispassionate process comment. “People seem really upset about not being taught anything.” “The group seems to want different things.” “It doesn’t seem worth it to waste two hours each week doing nothing.”

The Benefits of Age

Since brain networks basically aren’t finished building out until roughly age 25, while I didn’t know it at the time, I enjoyed a significant advantage the rest of the class clearly did not: I could easily see a number of meta-teachings going on here.

One was: I essentially had two free hours when I could basically do anything I wanted and get course credit. I could study materials for my alternative housing class, I could analyze data from my experimental psych class, I could probably read a good mystery novel on my Kindle if Kindle had been invented then.

But what I mostly could see is how conditioned we all were to have teachers teach and students learn. Why did it have to be that way? Why couldn’t students learn AND teach (years later my friend and co-conspirator Dr. Ruth Cox and I would design college courses precisely that way).

Leaders Emerge

Over time two leaders emerged from the group. Both male. I wasn’t one of them. One leader wanted all the students to simply boycott the class and stop attending all together. The other wanted the students to agree on a petition for everyone to sign to bring to the department chair demanding that Schiffman be fired.

BoycottSchiffman didn’t seem especially concerned, making process comments throughout. “Many students seem content to let two people do all the talking.” “What is it that prevents more people from speaking their minds?” “No one seems to know the best course of action to take.”

The Takeaways

I took a lot of brain-changing learning away from my time in David Schiffman’s Social Psychology class. One significant takeaway was my recognition that, left to their own devices, for better or worse, groups invite leaders to emerge; and I don’t do well with self-appointed or self-proclaimed authority. Another learning was that groups with a majority of women operate more intelligently. Finally was the realization that no matter the purpose or place, groups go through developmental stages, perhaps best characterized by Ohio State professor Bruce Tuckman as:

  • Forming (pretending to get on or get along with others)
  • Storming (letting down the politeness barrier and trying to get down to the issues even if tempers flare up)
  • Norming (getting used to each other and developing trust and productivity)
  • Performing (working in a group to a common goal on a highly efficient and cooperative basis)
  • Mourning (the feelings that emerge as the group comes to an end)

Probably the most significant takeaway however, was the clear recognition that I wouldn’t necessarily be well-served by solely relying on teachers for my learning. For that I would be best served by taking responsibility by being the director of my own education and searching out what it is I wanted to learn and who best to get that learning from. It is a teaching that I still carry with me 40 years later.

Novelty Reminder: Be sure to check out the new weekly Wednesday neuroscience “Book Review in Pictures” – The Enchanted Loom! You’ll instantly yummify your brain’s pleasure centers. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

So I’m standing in line at the grocery store pawing through People Magazine trying to take delight in some yummy morsels of celebrity gossip when suddenly a Chatty Charlie starts burbling away on his cell phone right behind me. Apart from whether it’s simple narcissism, lack of social awareness or some form of performance art, it’s more than what Charlie’s saying that’s bugging me. As far as I can make out he isn’t talking about me and his voice isn’t especially obnoxious. Other things are making me want to stare him down and adamantly encourage him to take the call outside.

Would you believe me if I told you that my brain was processing his “halfersation” … as a threat to my survival?

Halfersations Hurt My Brain

1 sparehalfologue-flashPrinceton neuroscientist Lauren Emberson and her colleagues have discovered that hearing half a conversation adversely impacts normal cognitive function. It does so in a number of ways.

Human brains learn best – that is, grow new cells and make new connections between existing brain cells through something attachment researchers call contingent communication – I say something; you say something in response; I say something related to your response; you say something further related to mine (people who have difficulty with auditory sensory processing as a regulatory function, i.e. they struggle to remain calm in response to words and sounds, will often use non-contingent non-sequiturs to steer conversations in more emotionally manageable directions).

Unlike a publically-presented speech or a monolog, one-sided conversations are non-contingent and unpredictable, since listeners are missing half the information. Unpredictable situations generate increased levels of stress, requiring me to more closely attend to Charlie for any threat that he might pose – for example overhearing the word “police” or “crazy” two or three times sprinkled through a conversation – will immediately put the threat detectors in my brain on Red Alert.

Tone It Down, Tony

But unpredictability isn’t the only threat. Michigan State sociologists Jonathan Forma and Stan Kaplowitz compared cell phone and in-person conversations for sound levels. Many of us tend to speak more loudly into cell phones. It’s as if we don’t trust the technology to clearly convey our decibel levels. Forma and Kaplowitz measured the actual loudness of conversations on cell phones versus face-to-face in public places. They found that people on cell phones speak 1.6 times as loud as people do chatting in person. Loud talkers also put the brain’s threat-detection systems on high-alert.

Beyond his loud mouth, as more and more of my attention is required to listen to Charlie’s conversation, considerable neural resources must be brought to bear, leaving me struggling to pay full attention to what’s troubling Brangelina or Kate and Harry’s new baby Princess. Being a momentary insider to celebrity gossip is the more enjoyable place I’d prefer to place my attention while waiting in a grocery line. Having restricted attentional choice imposed upon me by someone else makes me feel quite irritated. Inflicted, uninvited distractions are like that. Think: two undergrads loud-whispering in the library, or a baby crying on an airplane, or a street schizophrenic speaking word salad.

Sounds Threatening

As Brown University acoustic neuroscientist Seth Horowitz points out in his book, The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind, part of what makes halversations more challenging than visual, physical or olfactory distractions, for example, is that our ears are always on.

1 Loud Talk

Not only are our ears on while we’re awake and standing in the checkout lane at the supermarket, but they remain on all through the night, even during our deepest sleep. Sudden night noises alert us that something happened; it’s our ears’ job is to constantly listen for changes in the nearby environment that might represent a threat. Halfersations pose threats.

But the cognitive impairment that results from being subjected to one-sided conversations isn’t solely confined to the cell phone half-alogues of strangers. The evidence suggests that we are also subjected to similar distractions and increased cognitive demands while overhearing the halfersations of friends or family members. McGill neuroscientist Daniel Levitin writes in his book, The Organized Mind that the extra work required to task switch between the heard half and the unheard half of a one-sided conversation …

has been found to increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, which can overstimulate your brain and cause mental fog or scrambled thinking….To make matters worse, the prefrontal cortex has a novelty bias, meaning that its attention can be easily hijacked by something new – the proverbial shiny objects we use to entice infants, puppies, and kittens. The irony here for those of us who are trying to focus amid competing activities is clear: the very brain region we need to rely on for staying on task is easily distracted. Task-switching is the ultimate empty-caloried brain candy.

This kind of research suggests that much like they’ve done with Distracted Driving Laws, we would all benefit if states passed distracted grocery shopping laws for those of us who like others to keep their cell phone conversations safe, private and confined to just one other person.

As the grocery cashier begins ringing up my purchases, we exchange a glance instantly conveying our mutual irritation. In that moment I also feel that in addition to whatever cognitive price I may be paying, Charlie’s halfalogue also feels inconsiderate and disrespectful: the person on the phone warrants more importance and attention than the commoners right in front of him. These are good lessons for me to keep in mind next time I’m out in a crowd with my own cell phone.

If you could take this pill and become more compassionate, would you? If I tell the truth for myself, my answer would be, “Sometimes I would, and sometimes I wouldn’t.”

To Compassion or Not to Compassion

Compassion is not a simple, single thing in my experience. Nor is it an easy action to consistently get right. For example, as a parent who knows it’s important for children to have a wide cross-section of life-experience in order for their brains and bodies to develop and grow, my job is not to shield them from all the pain and suffering in the world. It’s more to be with them as honestly and authentically as I can as they encounter and experience pain and suffering. Be KindWe often practice “Idiot Compassion” when we try to take away or encourage others to turn away from experiences necessary for growth and development. It reminds me of this wisdom teaching: “Sometimes the most compassionate thing you can do for another person is leave them alone.” Another thing you can do is … ask someone in the midst of a struggle, what they most need.

Turning a Blind Brain

But what I’m especially interested in is when opportunities present themselves to practice compassion and I turn away from them myself.

Take last week for example: I was in our local Goose Grocery Store and I saw a woman I know at the checkout counter (since we live on a small island, it’s hard to go more than a day or two without running into people I know). The woman – let’s call her Sarah – was trying to buy a bottle of expensive wine and she apparently didn’t have enough money. But Sarah was arguing with the cashier that the price was too high and she should be allowed to buy it for the amount of money she had. The people behind her waiting in line to pay were clearly unhappy.

What would be a compassionate response in this circumstance. Walk over and greet Sarah and offer to lend the money? Simply gift her the missing balance? Side with Sarah against the store and the cashier and agree that the wine price was too high?

This situation is complicated by the fact that Sarah and I have had similar disagreements between us that revolved around money that we never managed to amicably resolve. It’s further complicated by the fact that Sarah too readily reminds me of my mother; and even further by the fact that my mother was an alcoholic. Judging Mind has a lot of ideas about wine-buying and people who remind me of mom.

adrenal-gland-cross-section-stocktrek-images

My Adrenals Up Close and Personal (Click to Enlarge)

And so do my adrenal glands! I could feel them flooding brain and body with rampant stress hormones as I witnessed this exchange between Sarah and the Goose cashier. And in that moment I could only do one thing: turn around and do some more grocery shopping. None of my business. Except, of course, that is PRECISELY what my business is – what I want it to be – the ability to turn towards rather than away from suffering, and grow my ability to be present, accounted for and compassionate in these kinds of conflict situations. In that instance, the non-choice between flight, fight or freeze saw flight win out. Maybe next time I can take those three options totally off the table and make the conscious choice to engage by simply asking, “Can I help?”

Drug Assist

What’s interesting about the usage of this pill in the Berkeley study above though is not the discovery that dopamine action in the brain can be affected by a pill – tolcapone – but rather that changing the brain’s dopamine levels leads to more compassionate action. More important to me is the realization that whatever can be achieved by a pill’s neurochemical action in the brain, can often be organically achieved by repeatedly practicing the effect the pill produces, in this case, compassionate action. To increase the dopamine-inducing activity in your brain … practice kindness, practice compassionate social engagement. The brain operates such that whatever actions we perform in the world, whatever we pay ever-increasing attention to, tends to increase. We get better with practice; in the above instance, me finding a way to turn towards Sarah, rather than away would have moved me in a direction of growth that I want to head toward.

That’s a critically important neurological truism to realize, and not just solely for compassion: whatever we direct our brain to pay attention to, tends to increase.

… or, How My Brain Came to Deeply Appreciate the Dunning-Kruger Effect

“All things, animate and inanimate, have within them a spirit dimension. They communicate in that dimension to those who can listen.” ~ Jerome Bernstein

Shortly after I graduated with my doctorate in psychology, I decided I wanted to give something back to my small, private school. I’d been working for a dozen years as a grief counselor and trainer to fulfill part of my clinical graduate requirements and I knew firsthand from co-facilitating dozens of volunteer trainings that simply listening with little else added is a very challenging endeavor. While listening depends on our ears working well, just because we can hear doesn’t mean we listen. We all know people whose ears work perfectly, but who don’t listen skillfully at all. There are also people who don’t hear well and listen fiercely. In part, there are structural, brain-based reasons for that. And some of the difficulty results from differing rates at which the brain processes speech, hearing and thought. Those rates can often end up in conflict with one another. They can also be radically sculpted and modulated with training.

protege

I also knew that if I really wanted to increase my own sculpted capacity for skillful listening, one way to accomplish that was to teach the skills to others – to benefit from The Protégé Effect. So I did. I designed a course and brought it to the school’s curriculum committee. After considerable wavering, they agreed to give the class a trial run. It was 10 three-hour sessions filled with all kinds of activities, practices and experiential presentations. I had a great time. And apparently the students did as well: When the class was over and the ratings were in, the class rated 4.9 out of a possible 5.0. I think they gave me that high rating not just for the exercises and activities and modeling I presented, but mostly because they discovered what a creative act it could be to reclaim what communications professor Mike Nichols calls, “The Lost Art of Listening.” There’s far more to listening than meets the ear.

So, of course the school decided that such a class would never be offered again! When I inquired into the reasoning, the responses I got were, “Well, listening’s not important enough to devote 30 hours of training to!” “and besides, we cover the essentials in a number of our other clinical classes,” and “most people accepted into the program are already above-average listeners.”

Which brings us to The Dunning-Kruger Effect…

In 1999 David Dunning and Justin Kruger, two Cornell research psychologists, published a paper entitled: Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Leads to Inflated Self-Assessments. That paper detailed a series of four studies showing that, in certain cases, people who are very bad at something think they are actually above average. In other words, many people are nescient when it comes to self-assessment. That is, they don’t know what they don’t know.

dunning_kruger

This effect has been replicated among undergraduates completing a classroom exam (Dunning, Johnson, Ehrlinger, & Kruger, 2003), medical students assessing their interviewing skills (Hodges, Regehr, & Martin, 2001) clerks evaluating their work performance (Edwards, Kellner, Sistrom, & Magyari, 2003), and medical lab technicians evaluating their on-the-job expertise (Haun, Zeringue, Leach, & Foley, 2000). I’m guessing psychotherapists, parents, priests and other paid listening professionals would not be especially immune to this effect.

The good news is that not knowing that you don’t know something is not a crime. And, as David Dunning himself has said, the take-away is that “one should pause to worry about one’s own level of certainty, not the certainty of others.” And then go and do the work of bringing knowledge and skill to your own ignorance.

So, how to know if your therapist is an above-average listener? A. Don’t ask them! And B. Become one yourself and then you’ll have a solid benchmark to accurately measure against.

And then of course, there’s C.: Be one of the handful of people I’m able to work with this Spring in this upcoming 4-session Noble Listening webinar. Click HERE for details: NOBLE LISTENING TRAINING.

“To listen is to be vulnerable. You allow something outside your body to come inside. To be open and impressionable, to hear everything, is dangerous. You can be damaged all too easily.” ~ W. A. Mathieu

From my very first post on this blog back in 2007, most everything I research and write here has one primary central aim: to increase the awareness of, and to reduce the amount and degree of suffering in people’s lives. Recently I received an email from a friend informing me and a number of other close friends about the death of her mother after a three-year, extremely painful struggle with pancreatic cancer. Not surprisingly, many who received the note responded back to my friend and also to everyone else on the list. Empathy--300x300What was surprising is that many of those responses barely acknowledged my friend’s loss. Instead, they immediately began waxing emotionally about the difficult death of a relative of their own, or their own struggles with painful illness. It was like they’d been looking for the perfect invitation to let the world know of their own suffering, and this was it.

Non-Contingent Mis-Communication

Only it wasn’t. Not being heard, emotionally felt and understood, dismissed and superceded by someone else’s needs is the exact opposite of the “contingent communication” which research has shown to be supremely instrumental and essential for lifelong learning and neural plasticity; and for cultivating the empathy circuitry absolutely necessary for forming close connections.

When I discussed this incident with my wife, she clarified that if we haven’t been on the receiving end of authentic empathy, then it’s going to be very challenging for us to consistently be on the transmitting end. In other words, other people have to model, reflect and express authentic empathy to us during our emotionally trying times – ideally, in childhood – in order for us to grow sufficient neural circuitry to be able to genuinely express it to others later on down the road.

But what if this experience hasn’t happened much in our early or later lives? I think the response to my friend’s reaching out for compassion, consoling and condolences (from the Latin condoleo ,“I feel another’s pain”) perfectly illustrates what happens – people’s own story, the need to express their own pain and grief takes over. The result, most often, is an emotional miss or disconnect. In other words, there’s unfortunately, no believable sign of an open heart.

The Theory of Feeling Felt

Attachment researchers and social and cognitive neuroscientists have long recognized the critical role that having others respond to us in ways that let us know they “grok” us plays in unfolding human development. When it happens, we “feel felt.” Specifically, children grow critical brain network circuitry that allows them to develop a robust Theory of Mind. Theory of Mind FractalTheory of Mind is the research field that investigates how children grow up and develop authentic empathy. They can genuinely feel another’s emotional reality. Empathy operates on a continuum, of course. Too much and people become emotionally enmeshed. Parents are especially susceptible to enmeshment. Too little empathy and you’re more likely to become the CEO of a corporation or be remanded to a locked facility.

It’s Never Too Late to Have a Heart-felt Adulthood

I’m in the process of organizing an offering designed specifically to address this developmental need in our culture, not for children, but for adults. Have you experienced a great need to be understood, only to have it get pre-empted by other people telling you their story? I’m researching skillful remedies and replies to this kind of communication and I’d really love to know if this experience of mis-communication happens out in the real world as much as I think it does. Feel free to comment below.

(I love headlines like this. They so blatantly pander to my brain’s anxious, conditioned desire to get rich quick. Research, though, shows that most people get rich by first learning about, and then mindfully and methodically attending to money much as they might attend to a healthy diet or lifelong violin-practice).

“There’s a certain Buddhist calm that comes from having money in the bank.” ~ Tom Robbins

Shortly after I turned 40 years old, I found myself teaching an evening class in Deep Listening at UC Santa Cruz Extension. To my surprise and confusion, most of the 25 people who showed up for it were professionals who were already being paid big money for their listening skills: psychologists, lawyers, social workers and business managers. Not unsurprisingly, I initially felt a little intimidated. What could I possibly teach these people? listen-symbolWhen I got their feedback at the end of the class I learned that what made these people especially good at their jobs was that they knew it was important to continually hone their skills and to keep learning and improving – they weren’t too cool for school. They apparently also knew that … where skills and the brain are concerned, if you don’t use them, you lose them. It also worked to help me keep my own skills sharp. That’s how The Protégé Effect often works.

Taking My Ears to the Streets

Around this same time in my day job, I was looking for a new in-fill building project to take on in order to keep my own cash-flow flowing. To my surprise I found one in the next town over. Buying it stretched and stressed me to the hilt, since I had to max out my credit cards to buy it; and there was no guarantee it would turn out well (There was absolutely no way I could have ever predicted how well it would eventually turn out).

The property was a bank-owned foreclosure located in Atherton, California. Atherton (population: 7159) is a small town in the heart of Silicon Valley populated by many of the valley’s corporate stars and sports legends. The property I was looking to make my next project was 1.8 acres and the bank had been unable to unload it for over two years. Needless to say, I wondered why.

Listening Homework

atherton-hvac

Click to see some typical Atherton McMansions

I signed a purchase contract and put down a small deposit (courtesy of Mastercard and Visa) to secure the property while I went and tried to find out. First on my list was a meeting with Atherton’s Town Manager. In addition to learning what he might know about this property – and he knew a lot! – I was genuinely curious about what it was like to try to manage a small town (and a town council) filled with so many super-sized egos. This proved a great opportunity to meet and ask him. And I listened to what he had to say (it turned out to be the hardest part of his job). And I kept listening. And I kept asking questions about him and his job, mostly because I was sincerely interested and glad his job wasn’t mine. After 45 minutes or so, I finally got around to asking my question, “Could I subdivide this property into two building lots?”

The Town Manager could have saved himself a lot of time and hassle and just said, “No. The town has a strict 1-acre zoning ordinance and they won’t set dangerous precedent by making exceptions.” But he didn’t. Instead he said, “Well, you might be able to. There’s a little known ordinance on the books that your property might qualify under.”

And what I later learned is that by listening to this manager with sincere interest and genuine curiosity, I’d apparently made a friend: behind the scenes with members of the Town Council and the City Planning Commission, the town manager built a powerful case for why my property DID qualify under that little known Town Ordinance. I was able to subdivide that single building lot into two and essentially obtain a million-dollar building lot for free!

Transfer of Training

I’m pretty convinced that my years working as a volunteer grief counselor – years of listening to people’s heart-felt pain and anguish over the loss of loved ones – had changed the nature of the “resonance circuitry” in my body and brain. When I was listening to the Atherton Town Manager talk of the struggles and challenges of working with the children of entitlement, I could authentically empathize. I could feel his discomfort in my own body as he spoke. And this mind-blowing research in emotional micro-photography makes me pretty sure he saw that I felt it; and felt that I felt it – all unconsciously. And he trusted it because there was nothing inauthentic or insincere in my responses. My guess is that Town Manager found himself being seen, heard and felt in much the same way that he would if he’d been having a conversation with a good friend. Later, he simply decided that he would do what he could to help a friend.

I’ve been a staunch advocate for skillful listening ever since. Along the way I have come to intimately know the many benefits of increasing skill.

What about you? Have you had positive experiences of listening to someone or of being deeply listened to yourself that profoundly impacted your life? Do tell in the comments section below.

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