Permission for sombre in the social media world?

I had a thought. A question. Something I was wondering about. And, wondering if you ponder it as well.

Do you feel that with all the opportunities to express, share, and be present with social media platforms, blogs etc, that you have to or should be positive all the time? Do you sense there is no room for some difficult or more sombre truths of your life? Do you think it’s bad business to share harder moments, or challenging “I hate these times” moments?

"Dali in the Alley" by Chara Berk Photography

Sometimes I feel that way.

I post a gratitude list at the end of every day, finding it a good way to appreciate the positive aspects of my life, regardless of the type of day I’ve had. It’s a good way to go to sleep. My ritual (inspired by a friend) has helped me especially when I slip into examining what is NOT working. (guess we all do)

But, sometimes I wonder if gives a false impression. Your life appears successful with very few bumps in your social media streams. Then… does that affect your readers’ viewpoint of their life? “Wish my life was as interesting as hers” …kind of the same idea of comparing your life to a movie where they avoid all the quotidian because, well, it’s just not interesting in a film.

A tad philosophical  I know but.. I’m curious. Do you allow yourself to share some of those tougher moments? And, if you do, what kind of feedback do you receive? And, how do you feel if you do reveal these darker occasions?

I remember hinting on twitter I was having a tough moment one time. A friendly, compassionate connection “direct messaged” me to see if I was okay. We ended up having a private message exchange and I have to say… it was a cathartic and helpful.

Perhaps witnessing a vulnerable moment via social media can help us, as readers. It might give us an opportunity to give some warmth, and also know we are not alone. A good thing, yes?

I guess we can assume that life being what it is, everyone is surely having  “moments”, but keeping it private. (most of the time)

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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The Art of Listening…?

I was in grade 8. It was lunchtime. Hanging out in the classroom with my friends, I was eating my tuna and pickled onion sandwich (home made onions by my Mom) and launching into a story.

I can’t remember the story now, but I do remember suddenly noticing one of my friends completely interrupt me to talk about something. I was incensed. I stopped talking. Eventually, all of my friends noticed my silence. The girl who had interrupted told me to continue.

I refused. I dug in my heels and point blankly refused. “You weren’t listening, so I’m not going to tell you the rest.” And, I didn’t.

When I was even younger and hanging out with adults a fair bit (I was an only child) I used to ponder the magic of these big people. As I watched and listened to them, I marveled at how they could talk and listen at the same time, since their voices were often all going at once.  As a kid, I concluded that you gained an extra sense when you became an adult enabling you to listen and speak simultaneously.

Nope!

Listening. Hearing. Empathizing. Sympathizing. Understanding. Relating. Connecting.

In recent rehearsals for a play, our director would remind us to listen, really truly listen to the others. This advice was always valuable as it pushed a sort of “refresh” button. Anticipating the delivery of your lines and your fellow actors’ lines kills the life in a scene.

In performance, you must hear, and speak the text as if for the first time. If you trust your listening skills, the interpretation will then reveal fresh nuances . The result is a greatly satisfying experience for both the audience and the actor.

In real life, ineffective listening shows up chronically.

Wandering eyes, vacant looks, the chest rising with a breath that is ready to interrupt with their own thoughts that are quickly formulating in their head, or a polite nod, are all clear indicators of an unsuccessful listener. And, they never ask questions. (The good ones do the opposite!)

In business, truly listening to a potential client, and being curious about their needs will most likely be more effective than constantly “pitching” them. I know most of us get annoyed at those badly scripted phone calls from large companies trying to sell us something.

The other day I had one of those calls. At breakneck speed, a guy assumed he had what I wanted and pitched me over and over, using statements like “I want you to..” “You need this..” “I will sign you up today…”. He most certainly was not listening to me as an individual with unique needs.

I stopped him and suggested, gently, that his company should change their tactics to ask what the potential customer would actually like before they assumed they knew best! Their business would most likely improve!

Today, we communicate frequently via the social media (Facebook, twitter, etc..)  where some “interesting” listening is occurring. Some people seem to think that constantly giving people information is a “social” action.

In my mind, being social usually entails listening, conversing, and possibly mutually creating deeper value. The  successful internet socialites shine and are a great example.

What do you think?

What is your best or worst listening experience, and your best or worst “being listened to” experience? I challenge you to observe those around you, and yourself as the art of listening unfolds. I will join you in this venture… honest!

Let me know how it goes.

(Oh, and by the way… one of the most important listening skills to develop is listening to yourself, your instincts, your ideas, your dreams, your loves, your questions, and your ponderings.)

And, for your listening pleasure…..