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Do You Listen?

in From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

Do You Listen?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

I mean TRULY listen.

Or are you waiting for your turn to speak?

We have conversations every day, but I don’t see many engaged conversations. I see many participating, as if they are following a script’s cues: talk, talk, talk, and wait to talk again.

listeningGreat communicators listen actively, not waiting for their opportunity to speak, scrolling through things on their smartphone, or talking past others in the conversation.

In political conversations, it seems that we only wait for our opportunity to talk past one another. Unfortunately, that means that no participant actually understands the others’ concerns or point of view on the issue being discussed. We simply wait to throw out our next fact, figure, emotional pitch, or sound-byte, rather than listening to what others say.

When we truly listen, we get the benefit of hearing a different perspective. We hear their concerns, and we find out how they work through solving an issue of concern to them.

What can you do to make yourself a better listener (and a better communicator)? Try out these five tips from Inc. on The Huffington Post:

  1. Be present. Being “in the moment” is not just for yoga or Grateful Dead concerts. If you are going to take in what someone is saying, you have to truly focus your mental awareness on the person. Push distractions aside. Give a person the gift of your attention. Put down the smartphone, turn off your computer screen, put down the book or magazine, and look at him or her with a neutral or pleasant expression. Most people are so accustomed to having half of someone else’s focus at any given moment that this gesture alone will make them feel important and it will allow you to actually hear what they are saying.
  2. Turn down the inner voice. Internal analysis of any conversation is unavoidable and necessary, but often it’s at the expense of objectivity. That voice can actually take over in your brain to the point at which you are no longer listening to the person talking and instead simply listening to the diatribe in your head. There is plenty of time after a conversation to assess the value of what you heard, but first you have to hear it. One technique for quieting the inner voice is simple note taking. Writing down even key words or short phrases will force you to absorb the information coming in. Then you can process it on your own outside the presence of the speaker. As an added benefit, you’ll have a more accurate representation of what was actually said for later discussion.
  3. Hold up a mirror. This is a technique many psychologists and counselors recommend to help alleviate conflict. When the opportunity arises, speak up and describe for the person what you have just heard him or her say. It is OK to rephrase in your own words. Be sure to end with a request for confirmation: “So what you’re most concerned about is that the new hires lack training. Is that accurate?” The speaker then knows you are paying attention and fully engaged.
  4. Ask for clarification. During a conversation, hunt for areas of interest where you might further inquire. Without derailing his or her train of thought, ask the speaker to expand and clarify: “What do you mean by ‘interesting?’” or “Why do you think that is so important?” The speaker will appreciate the interaction, and you will gain better understanding of the person’s perspective as well as your own perception of the information.
  5. Establish follow-up. At the end of any conversation, discuss and determine if there are action steps required. This check-in will alert speakers to your actual concern for what they said, and help them assess their own relevancy to your needs.Express appreciation for their sharing, and let them know what you found to be valuable from the conversation. Making them feel heard increases the odds they’ll truly listen to you when you have something to say you believe is important.

So, are you ready to listen?

What’s Your Number?

in Communicating Liberty, From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

3500

That’s my number.

I’ve administered The World’s Smallest Political Quiz 3500 times. This week, I crossed that threshold with a research project I’m in the midst of.

Quiz TIP CardThat figure doesn’t count the number of times I’ve left our “TIP Card” along with my business card to a server at lunch or dinner.My number above just counts the interactions I’ve had with people at county fairs, gun shows, on campus, for research, and as part of conversations with friends, new and old. That is a lot of conversations about liberty and libertarianism.Before I joined the Advocates, I was already passionate about liberty and the libertarian movement. Now, I get to turn up the gas on that flame for liberty.

So, back to my original question, how many times have you given The World’s Smallest Political Quiz? What were the outcomes of the conversations that the Quiz broke the ice for? Did you find an existing libertarian? Did you discover a NEW libertarian?

I want to hear from you about your successes. I also want to hear from you about your challenges.

Have you found that your outreach was more successful the more outgoing and gregarious the Quiz-giver shows themselves to be? I know that I have.

Recently, I visited an outreach booth of a local libertarian organization that I knew would be administering the Quiz, and I gave them some tips that tripled the number of people who took the Quiz over the prior year. They also saw a tremendous amount of activity under the tent, as passersby took an interest in libertarian philosophy.

What did we do to make such a big difference?

We re-arranged the “standard” booth layout, by putting the table at the BACK of the booth. This put all of the volunteers IN FRONT of the table, removing the barrier between those volunteers and the festival goers. Moving the table to the back of the booth also made it almost impossible to sit down, so the volunteers were on their feet with a lot more energy, and that energy spilled over into their conversations.

What better way to start a conversation about liberty than filled with energy?

What about you?

What tips do you have for tabling or outreach that you’d like to share? I may feature them here in a future issue or on social media as a tip for our supporters who are passionate to dispel the Left-Right political myth.

Who’s ready to get an Operation Politically Homeless kit to begin a conversation about our burning passion for a more libertarian society and way of life?

If you already have one, try something new with how you present your tabling/outreach effort and share your successes.

I love it when liberty wins the day, so let’s share what we’re doing to talk about libertarianism in a positive and effective way.

How to Strengthen Your Voice and Prevent Hoarseness

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by Michael Cloud Comments are off

(From the Persuasion Powerpoint section in Volume 19, No. 4 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

If you’re a libertarian candidate, public speaker, or seminar leader, you need a strong, reliable speaking voice.

Not just for two or three 20-minute talks. But for six hours to nine hours of speeches, conversations, and questions and answers each campaign day. Each seminar day.

How do you protect or treat your voice against raw throat, hoarseness, and voice fatigue?

For years, professional speakers have used throat lozenges, cough syrup, throat spray, and other over-the-counter remedies. Results? Temporary, minimal relief.

“Not nearly good enough,” thought Steve Chandler, a longtime public speaker and seminar leader.

He looked for and finally found an all-natural, reliable and free solution.

What is it?

“Sing… for an hour a day,” urges Mr. Chandler. “Before I started my singing practice, I didn’t have much of a voice at all. Now I never have a problem with my voice. I can always fill the auditorium with it, even if the AV system goes down and the microphone goes out.”

When does he practice? When he runs errands, he plays music CDs in the car — and sings along with them. Sometimes when he works out, he plays the music on his iPod — and sings right along.

Skeptical? I was. So I put it to the test. For the last 20 days, I’ve sung along 60 minutes each day — to my favorite rock and pop singers. My voice has gotten stronger, more clear, and I have NO rawness or hoarseness.

Try it yourself. You’ll love the results.

* * * * * * * *
But It Now!Michael Cloud’s latest book Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion is available exclusively from the Advocates, along with his acclaimed earlier book Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion.

In 2000, Michael was honored with the Thomas Paine Award as the Most Persuasive Libertarian Communicator in America.