C.A.T. = LOVE

You probably thought of the love for a cat, which for some it’s  as strong and powerful as any relationship with a human being.  However, I am not talking about cats ,  I am a dog lover myself, but I am not talking about dogs either. I am talking about relationships, human relationships and what I think it takes to have a successful relationship between two people.  In a relationship there are key ingredients to really  love that person, to care for his/her needs and be loved and cared back the same way. In my experience, though there are many qualities that makes a successful relationship last for years to come, I find three essential ingredients that are most important for a successful relationship: Communication, Affection and Trust .

Communication: means to me the interaction with that significant person in your life. The exchange of words and feelings between two people who made a committment whether in marriage or in a friendship to  communicate words and feelings to understand each other,  growing fond to each other over time.  Communication can be verbal, expressing thoughts and feelings openly, sharing ideas and beliefs that strengthens the relationship as time passes by. Communication  can be also non-verbal and it is usually the non-verbal communication, the body language and gestures that its taken into consideration after many years in a relationship. It is not only what it’s being said but how its being said that matters most after many years in relationship with a person and if the communication is affected, the message from sender to receiver never arrives as intended or is gravely distorted. People want to grow old with someone they can communicate, understand, listen and be listen to in a relationship. Can you imagine living with someone you can’t communicate with?
Affection: include all its meanings that is love, liking, fondness, friendliness, care and regard for that person. Name one person who doesn’t like affection; everybody likes to be loved, feel the energy between two people, feel respected, cared for, and listen to. The person receiving the affection will or should treat the other person with the same affection as these feelings are rooted deep into the subconsciousness and even in our souls. If the affection is strong and well rooted, it may never be affected by any external circumstances. People who love each other will stick together in good times as well as in bad times. However, if you don’t feel the affection from the other person, problems will soon arise from this relationship. People need affection and when it is not there or declining in quality, it is one’s duty in that relationship to bring it forth to the attention of the other person in that relationship. Timing is critical!
Trust: the most important to me. It means that you can rely, have the confidence or belief in the other person’s words and feelings.  It means that you can depend on that  person no matter what and the relationship between each other feels protected after expressing such words and feelings of trust. Without trust , a relationship cannot thrive successfully because without trust the communication is greatly affected and eventually the affection towards that person is affected thus killing  the once solid roots of the relationship.  There is nothing else to hold on in a relationship if trust is affected and it is the hardest to re-establish.
If you relationship is ever challenged by the lacking or poor quality of these three, Communication, Affection and Trust, you must take charge to make the other person aware of it.  I believe LOVE cannot flourish, cannot grow if these ingredients are not present in any relationship.
  • Don’t wait too long: If you wait too long, the damages may be harder to repair and most important the essence of the relationship is affected so bad that it has no value. If it has no value to at least one person in that relationship, the relationship will stop growing, communication will be even harder as both parties will be voicing and expressing reasons why it is not working, finding blame and creating resentment. Happiness will fade away as any attempt to make a workable solution will be subject to objection. As resentment and differences in opinion sets in, the affection will wither up over time and eventually the relationship will die. All this could have been avoided by expressing your concerns as soon as you notice them.
  • Be tactful yet firm: You must be tactful yet firm communicating your concerns and make sure that the other person is really  LISTENING to your feelings and understands your concerns. Also you must be willing to listen to that person’s point of view and make your best effort to understand that person. It works both ways and never one way!
  • Be patient, but don’t die in the process: if you really want the relationship to work, you have to be patient, willing to compromise and be consistent in your efforts. However, you must watch for a mutual reciprocity of your efforts or otherwise you will die alone trying to make the relationship work.  As I stated before, it goes both ways or none at all. You may try as you might but if both in the relationship are not committed 100% in to making it work, might as well kiss the relationship goodbye!
In a relationship, it is all as one or none at all. Love is unconditional”

Financial Freedom Manifesto

I created a financial freedom manifesto as a way to pass my thoughts into paper so when I do accomplish financial independence, I have an action list to start working immediately. I felt that since everything starts with a thought, that thought must be transferred into something tangible like in paper not just a dream or a mere wish list floating in my mind. In this manifesto, I wrote everything I have thought to be, do and have on a larger scale when the opportunity is presented, what I am going to do in some detail and how I will do it. It also explains with whom I will share this experience and why. It shares my mission and long-term vision of my goals, the life I will lead and the legacy I will build for the generations after me. Creating this manifesto seals my commitment to take an altruistic approach of my life for a greater good at a different level from what I am doing now , knowing what needs to be done and why I am doing it not just dreaming about it and wish to come true. Manifesting it as if already happened makes me feel even better, as if it is happening now and I know it will in due time. I will be ready so when it does happen, I will take action without hesitation.

Effective Communication and Listening Skills for Everyone

The dictionary definition of communication is the exchange of information by two people by writing, speaking or other means of communication. Communication between people should be a two-way communication, transferring the message from sender to receiver and back. It is not productive when the information flows in one direction. Part of the process of communicating with others either by face to face of by phone involves a series of  cues that often say as much as words in telling others what our message should be. There is the non-verbal cues (body language) and the tone  and inflection of voice that makes up more of the way we communicate than just  what is being said. So it is true that it is not WHAT you say but HOW you say it!  Body language ranks higher in the way we communicate. A calm, relax facial expression on the person talking can tell you that everything is cool, whereas avoiding eye contact may show a shy person or trying to avoid something. The tone of  voice also tells important cues about how the message is being delivered and it’s meaning. An agitated voice may show nervousness or that the person may be angry about something. A warm, controlled voice regards that person as welcoming and easy to understand. People are more readily understood when they speak in a positive way than negative. Choosing positive, active words helps the message to be carried out and easily understood from sender to receiver.  Here is an example on word choice between negative and positive: ” I can’t get the job done until Friday; versus, I can get the job done by Friday.” Simple yet easy to deviate to the negative because of stress and current circumstances when the conversation is taking place. However choosing positive words can get the message across more effective than using negative words.

  1. Choose words that are positive, action driven: I can do, I will say, I believe that…and avoid negative words like can’t, won’t, not, etc… See how you can change the negative in a conversation to a positive. Practice, practice, practice. Use eye contact to connect with your audience. Relax, just be yourself.
  2. Don’t interrupt people: it is impossible to listen and talk at the same time, yet we do this all the time. The problem is that we miss part of the message in the process and it turns people off when they do notice it. Think before you speak.
  3. The biggest mistake in communication is that people assume that the message sent is the message received. Check to me sure the receiver understood your message.
  4. Organize the message. To be effective all information should follow some kind of sequence: chronological, logical, topical, etc… This tends to be a problem when one tries to rush through talking without thinking what is being said similar to like spreading a rumor.
  5. Know your audience. People would rather be entertained than educated.  In order to get the message across, people sometimes tell stories, jokes use pictures or other means during a conversation to captivate the attention of their audience.  People will tend to remember a story within the message, remember a joke if it was funny and related and will paint a picture of what it’s being said if the sender uses any of these methods to get his/her message across.
  6. Keep the conversation simple and less complex. One thing at the time proves to be more effective than cramming too many points into the conversation.

Listening is the most important skill for effective communication and teamwork in any environment.  Most of our listening focuses on eye contact, facial expressions and body language of the person speaking. Some listening is spent on tone, pauses and inflection of voice  and little is spent on spoken words. When we listen to someone speaking we either ignore what’s being said, pretend that we are listening, listen to only what interest us or we are active listening, that is tuning in with heart and mind to understand person’s words, intent and feelings.

Positive listening habits include:

  1. Making eye contact. It doesn’t mean staring eye to eye, making the other person feel uncomfortable but rather focus your gaze to the nose or forehead and make eye contact now and then.
  2. Repeat the content: paraphrasing is repeating back to the speaker what you, the listener, heard them say (ideas and feelings) and checking out the accuracy of your listening. It’s putting the speaker’s message in your own words. It is not asking questions and it is not telling the speaker about similar experiences you’ve had. Some examples are: ” so, as I get it…, what I’m hearing is that…, you seem to be saying…”
  3. Allow the person to finish. Almost everyone wants the other person to finish so they can say what’s on their minds. This is a bad habit and it is not listening.
  4. Focus on content and feelings. Watch for body language, eye contact,  voice tone, etc…
  5. Good listeners will ask good questions. Some questions are open, that is  need more information and exploration of issues. Others are closed questions that require a yes or no answer or they’re used to get specific answers. Example of an open question is: “what are your ideas to improve your book?”  and for  closed questions: “did you improve your book?”

So, are you a good communicator?

Seek first to understand , then to be understood” Stephen Covey

Ref: Valencia  Community College, Continuing Professional Education Department.