A Ting about listening

Active listening is a key to great communication and a required part of coaching that works.

In a group on Facebook Kasia Gurgul mentioned that the Chinese character Ting nicely sums up what’s needed for that kind of listening. I of course got curious and I found two images that describes the Ting character in slightly different ways.

The first image comes from Mastering Ting: the Ancient Chinese Listening Secret. It’s a long interesting article about listening.

Based on the Ting-character there are six elements/areas that are important. I rank them different from the article, all are important.

  • Be present. With body and mind.
  • Undivided Attention. Focus on the conversation and what the other person says.
  • Hear what’s said and how it’s said.
  • Mind, keep it open.
  • Eyes.
  • Heart, feel.

The article linked above also describes “The 3 Levels of Listening”
1. The Internal Broadcaster
2. The Attentive Listener
3. The Universal Listener

The second image comes from Mindful Listening. I like that it also mentions mindful listening. Mindfulness is about being present in the moment and situation.

A related approach is ‘mindful listening’, a concept taken from Buddhism and applied by the language educationalist Stella Ting-Toomey, to situations of intercultural conflict. She informs us that in the Chinese alphabet, the character used for ‘listening’ (as opposed to ‘hearing’) embodies ‘attending to the other person with your eyes, ears and heart’. The act of patient and deliberate listening is a sign of generosity, and an acknowledgement that you are taking the speaker’s needs seriously.

Fascinate F-score test

After watching How to Fascinate – Sally Hogshead I was fascinated and curious about the seven fascination triggers.

I found the F-score brand personality test which gives you your primary, secondary and dormant triggers out of the seven fascination triggers.

  • Passion
  • Rebellion
  • Alarm
  • Mystique
  • Power
  • Prestige
  • Trust

The test was free and gives you interesting information which is valuable when you work on creating and maintaining your brand, whether it’s your personal brand or your business brand.

How to Fascinate – Sally Hogshead

The newsletter “Outside the Lines” from Michael Bungay Stanier listed “8 Brilliant Videos You Should Watch”. The video that really caught my attention is TEDxAtlanta – Sally Hogshead – How to Fascinate (Video is below).

In today’s world of 9-second attention spans, our introductions mean more-than-ever before. Sally Hogshead reveals the seven triggers of fascination and how to get others to fall in love with your ideas, instantly.

Sally Hogshead starts with “All markets are like online dating markets” and talks about our short attention spans of 9 seconds (the same as a goldfish). Her main message is the seven fascination triggers.

Every day, intentionally or not, you’re using fascination triggers to persuade people at work and home. Whether you’re pitching a new client, or inviting a friend to lunch, or lulling a cranky toddler to sleep, you’re using triggers to elicit a certain response.

At YouTube there’s also Sally Hogshead: Keynote Speaker on Innovation | Marketing | How to Fascinate. It’s a promotional video but it includes interesting pieces from some of her presentations.

Video: How to Fascinate – Sally Hogshead

Pomodoro Desktop Timer

Tomighty is an excellent desktop timer tailor made for when you use the Pomodoro Technique.

The Pomodoro Technique is a simple way to boost your productivity when performing mind-consuming tasks. It helps you keep yourself focused while reducing mental exhaustion

Tomighty has as default 25 minutes for the Pomodoro work-session, 5 minutes for the short break and 15 minutes for the long break. You can change this if you want but it works really well.

Just start the clock for a Pomodoro, focus on your work and 25 minutes later the timer goes off. Select a short or long break, I suggest you leave the computer during the break. Once the break is over the timer goes off again and it’s time for another Pomodoro.

Read more about The Pomodoro Technique – manage your attention.

The Pomodoro Technique – manage your attention

I was reminded of The Pomodoro Technique™ when I attended Øredev 2009. It’s an interesting concept described like this:

The Pomodoro Technique™ is a way to get the most out of time management. Turn time into a valuable ally to accomplish what we want to do and chart continuous improvement in the way we do it.

Time management is a misnomer since time cannot be managed, it’s all about managing your attention. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato, it refers to the timer you use to keep track of time and the only tool you need. The basic unit of work in the Pomodoro Technique™ is as simple as these five steps:

1. Choose a task to be accomplished
2. Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer)
3. Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper
4. Take a short break (5 minutes is OK)
5. Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break

The Pomodoro Technique is great. Step three above is about working on one task and that task only – no distractions and no multitasking. Knowing that the timer will tell you when the time is out means you can focus completely on the task at hand. The Pomodoro Technique works great together with the 18 Minute Plan.

The timer sound gets a bit annoying hearing it that often. I’ll do some work on my timer to make it more quiet. An alternative, as long as you are by your computer, is Tomatoi.st which is a Pomodoro timer in your browser. Another option is focus booster which can be used online or as a desktop application.

To get a quick introduction to the Pomodoro Technique, get the Cheat Sheet in Pomodoro Resources. The Cheat Sheet is described as This one-page paper is a valuable tool for Pomodoro Technique™ beginners. It’s also the perfect way to show your friends and colleagues how the technique works. In the Pomodoro Resources are also Worksheets (To Do Today and Activity Inventory) and a 45 page PDF that explains the concept more in details.

WebWorkerDaily asks The Pomodoro Technique: A GTD Alternative? To me it’s not about one method or another, pick what works for you in the different methods and create your own mix.

You can follow @PomodoroTech on Twitter and join Pomodoro Technique on Facebook. Francesco Cirillo, the man behind the Pomodoro Technique, is on Twitter at @cirillof.

Update December 27, 2009
I found ClockSmith Lite and use the chime every half hour as my timer. At the chime I take a five minute break, then work for 25 minutes until the next chime. The chime sounds much nicer than my kitchen timer.

Update March 27, 2010
Today I came across Tick Tock Timer which is a very nice online timer. It’s now bookmarked for future use.

Update July 7, 2011
See a really nice Pomodoro Desktop Timer.

This was originally posted at Bengt’s Notes, another blog of mine.

Start Managing Your Attention

Over at ChangeThis is a great free e-book Quit Managing Your Time… and Start Managing Your Attention. Time can not be managed, time management is a misnomer and misleading. This little book is about what we can do – manage our attention and our priorities.

You can’t manufacture time, you can’t reproduce time, you can’t slow time down or turn it around and make it run in the other direction. You can’t trade bad hours for good ones, either. About all the time management you can do is to cram as much productive work as possible into each day. What you can manage, however, is your attention.

The e-book includes a simple question that helps us indentify what our top priority should be:

If I could accomplish only one thing right now, what would that one thing be?

The e-book also describes the Eisenhower method for sorting our tasks by importance and urgency, it’s simple yet powerful.

This was originally posted at Forty Plus Two, another blog of mine.

An 18 Minute Plan That Keeps You Focused

Yesterday this interesting article popped up in my Twitter stream: An 18-Minute Plan for Managing Your Day from Harvard Business Publishing.

The article mentions time management but time can not be managed. We can manage our priotities and that was the article is about.

The 18 minute plan is simple yet powerful when it comes to keeping us on track.

Step 1

STEP 1 (5 Minutes) Set Plan for Day. Before turning on your computer, sit down with a blank piece of paper and decide what will make this day highly successful. What can you realistically accomplish that will further your goals and allow you to leave at the end of the day feeling like you’ve been productive and successful? Write those things down.

I already use pen and paper for my planning, see Task management my way – pen and paper, step 1 above is just doing it differently from what I do today.

STEP 1, continued. Now, most importantly, take your calendar and schedule those things into time slots, placing the hardest and most important items at the beginning of the day. And by the beginning of the day I mean, if possible, before even checking your email. If your entire list does not fit into your calendar, reprioritize your list. There is tremendous power in deciding when and where you are going to do something.

My planning is usually not done in time slots, more a list of things for that day. Using time slots will make it clearer what actually can be done in one day. What really hit home was the ‘when and where’ part of the article (read more in their post):

If you want to get something done, decide when and where you’re going to do it. Otherwise, take it off your list.

Step 2

STEP 2 (1 minute every hour) Refocus. Set your watch, phone, or computer to ring every hour. When it rings, take a deep breath, look at your list and ask yourself if you spent your last hour productively. Then look at your calendar and deliberately recommit to how you are going to use the next hour. Manage your day hour by hour. Don’t let the hours manage you.

This is a smart trick, a regular reminder to check that you are on track and on time. It’s easier to manage hour by hour than to manage on day level.

Step 3

STEP 3 (5 minutes) Review. Shut off your computer and review your day. What worked? Where did you focus? Where did you get distracted? What did you learn that will help you be more productive tomorrow?

This is a great one too. I do review my days but not in a more formal way. Doing what’s in step three above will make the learning process much clearer.

Read more:
The jar of life – stones, pebbles and sand
Let limitations guide you to creative solutions
55 Ways to Get More Energy

This was originally posted at Forty Plus Two, another blog of mine.

Worrying gets you nowhere

Worrying keeps the mind busy and zaps energy but it does not change anything.

Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere. ~ Glenn Turner

Worrying in itself does not make the future better.

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy. ~ Leo Buscaglia

Worrying stops you from doing things.

You can’t wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time. ~ Pat Schroeder

Worrying can cause physical problems.

Heavy thoughts bring on physical maladies; when the soul is oppressed so is the body. ~ Martin Luther

Worrying is often about things that will never happen.

Most things I worry about never happen anyway. Tom Petty

Worrying about something is like paying interest on a debt you don’t even know if you owe. Mark Twain

Since worrying does not get you anywhere, do something about it instead. Take one worry at a time, either solve it or drop it. It is a waste of time and energy to let worries continue to spin.

“Worry a little every day and in a lifetime you will lose a couple of years. If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train yourself not to worry. Worry never fixes anything.”

This was originally posted at Forty Plus Two, another blog of mine.

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