Beyond Ordinary Listening

This article by Joyce Vissell originally appeared as an article on the former Support4Change website.

Learn how to communicate so fully that your partner can’t help but pay attention and listen to every word.

Jubilee and Munin, Ravens, Tower of London 2016-04-30The art of listening is very important in life and essential in any relationship. Being able to listen carefully assures that valuable communication is passed between two people. Some communication is so riveting that we can’t help but pay attention and listen to every word.

But what about the communications that do not capture our attention fully. These are slower communications that do not pull you right in and perhaps are harder to keep your focus. It is during these times when you can “listen-plus.”

What is “listening-plus”? Though I just made up the name for this article, I have been practicing this technique for many years and it has brought me much joy. “Listening-plus” employs the heart as well as the ears and mind. Read More

What Spouses or Partners of Perfectionists Need to Know

December 17, 2012
Are you married to a perfectionist – or considering marriage to a perfectionist? This book may be the very help you need.

This post is an experiment. Read on to learn why.

How to Live with a Perfectionist Without Going CrazyThere are many theories on how long a sales page needs to be in order to be effective.  I’ve tried all lengths and have gotten mixed results on all of them.

I have discussed this for years with my webmaster, Renee, creator of a book blog, so she knows a bit about books. We have come to the conclusion that the length of a sales page depends on several things.

One, if you are introducing a new product or program that people have not heard about, it makes sense to give them enough information so they will know whether they might be interested.

Two, if you have improved a product or program that has been around for awhile, you may need to explain why it is better.

Three, if you are selling a book, there are only several things the reader wants to know:

1. Is the topic of interest to me?

2. Does the author have experience in that area?

3. What is the price?

4. How easy is it to purchase the book?

5. What do other people say about the book? *

Since today I am doing an initial launch of How to Love a Perfectionist Without Going Crazy, I’ve decided to go with the short version of the sales-page-length controversy. In fact, since it isn’t terribly long, I am including the entire sales page in this blog post. It is not something I have done with some of my other books, so this can be a trial.

What you’ll read below covers the five points above. It doesn’t cover Number 5, testimonials, because this is a very new book. But for the first five people who buy the book and give me a testimonial, I will send them a link to the digital version of Ask Yourself Questions and Change Your Life or Healing Relationships is an Inside Job.

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Is Your Relationship to a Perfectionist Driving You Crazy?

As a “recovering perfectionist” I have written a great deal on perfectionism for perfectionists. Now I have written an ebook for the person who lives with, or loves, a perfectionist.

I hope that it will help you help your spouse — or other close relative or friend — become a recovering perfectionist more quickly than I was able to do. 

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Are you married to a perfectionist – or considering marriage to a perfectionist?

Does that person ask you to do more and meet higher standards than are really necessary?

Is your relationship failing because you are tired of being the cheerleader of someone with impossibly high goals and low self-esteem?

Do you feel you always have to give in in order to keep the peace?

Do you have a relative or friend who is struggling in a relationship with a perfectionist?

In this ebook you will discover:

❖  How the author became a recovering perfectionist

❖  How to know whether your partner is a perfectionist

❖  How to help him become a recovering perfectionist

❖  How to instill high standards in your child without
creating a perfectionist

Are you ready to turn around your relationship with a perfectionist?

If you are, this is the book for you.

Here are the details of how you can purchase it:

Go to the How to Love a Perfectionist Without Going Crazy page on Support4Change and learn how to live with—and love—a perfectionist without needing to go crazy in the process.


Did you enjoy this post?
Here are a some related posts from this blog, and articles from the Support4Change website:


Assumptions Are The Termites of Peace

July 25, 2011
How often do we make assumptions about people we don’t even know?

Small drawing of two people walking with a small childWhen I read that Henry Winkler, actor and comedian, said that assumptions were the “termites of relationships,” I was struck by the truth of it. In a world where we are convinced we not only understand others, but know what is good and bad for them — even before we get to know them and learn their point of view — prejudice, conflict and war are sure to follow. Short of those major problems, assumptions rob us of the potential for relationships that could enrich our lives.

Our tendency to draw conclusions is described perfectly in The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Man and woman walking arm in armJuster. In this well-known story, the protagonist is a bored young man who finds a tollbooth in his bedroom. With nothing else to do, he pays the toll and enters an adventure with words that soar and dip as he discovers life from a very different perspective. One of the most delightful of these metaphors is the “Island of Conclusions.” The only way you can get there is to jump. Getting off the island is much more difficult.

None of us is immune to this phenomenon, which you can demonstrate to yourself the next time you take a drive or go to the mall. As you see some people coming toward you, at first you may not give much thought to who they are or whether you would like them if you knew them. The Parents holding child's handcloser they come, however, the more you become aware of your assumptions about them. With a barely perceptible “feeling,” you have made a judgment about them that falls somewhere on the continuum of good person/bad person.

You can’t help but do so! Evolution has built into our genes the ability to make quick decisions Drawing of couple in winter clothes walkingabout the “other.” When a movement in the forest could be a dangerous animal or a person, either friend or foe, being able to make quick judgments can make the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, we have expanded this capacity to judge people and situations quickly and frequently end up on the Island of Conclusions, where it can be hard to change our assumptions.

As I noted in the last Ask Yourself Questions Club question in The Stories We Tell, how we dress greatly influences the way people see us. However, without hearing the stories others would tell if we would stop to listen to them, in a split second we make assumptions about them based not only on how they are dressed, but on their age, sex, weight, and the color of their skin. Are they walking briskly and appear healthy, or do they walk slowly as though they are in pain? Does their face reflect joy or sadness? And is it a face we have been taught to admire because it is handsome and beautiful, or does the person have a “flaw” that a plastic surgeon could “correct?”

There are behaviors, of course, that deserve our disapproval, such as rudeness, allowing children to run wild in the aisles of the store, dropping chewing gum on the sidewalk, and shoving into line Man and woman walking arm in armwhen others have been waiting patiently. I’m not talking about judging those actions. In this week’s question I’m focusing on the more subtle characteristics we use to categorize people as desirable or undesirable, as someone we would like to know or someone we “probably” wouldn’t like.

I am reminded of a time we stopped for lunch at a small restaurant out in the desert when four people wearing bright motorcycle outfits came in, talking animatedly about their ride that morning. Their clothes and the fact that they seemed to live on the wild side was all I needed to paint a picture of their life. I was sure the women were probably waitresses in a bar or on welfare. There’s nothing particularly wrong with being a barmaid or, if you’re sometimes really needy, Sketch of man and woman with childwelfare. It’s just that I would never have assumed they had positions that required much education or experience.

However, as I listened in on their conversation (who wouldn’t?), my theory was shot full of holes when I heard the first woman say she had to get back in time for work as supervisor of more than twenty visiting nurses. The other woman, it turned out, was a school principal.

Unfortunately, making assumptions isn’t just a matter of misjudging strangers we’ll never see again. We make assumptions about whole groups of people. And, yes, they make assumptions about us. We all spend a lot of time on islands of conclusions to which we’ve jumped with ease.

But if we’re to make any progress toward peace in the world, we can start with recognizing that Couple with winter clothesthe assumptions we make create holes in the potential for peace, just like the termites we recently discovered in our attic have caused some boards, ones we count on to hold up the roof, to crumble.

You can begin to get rid of those “termites” by noticing how rapidly you judge other people. If you walk into a mall or sit on a park bench and watch people going by, allow yourself to simply “be.” When you see someone you’ve not met before, fill the “space” between you with appreciation for the diversity of humankind. With an open heart and mind, be receptive to accepting each person just as they are.

Drawing on man and woman with childOf course, if you are like me, it may be a long time before you can do this easily. In that case, remember that you aren’t stuck with your initial reaction. What counts is the second thought and how you treat other people. So even though initially you may feel negative toward a person who, in your judgment, is too fat, too thin, too loud, poorly dressed, et  cetera, allow your next thought to accept that person just as he or she is.

And if you notice you’re still judging someone you don’t know much about, give yourself a third chance, or more, to discover that it feels much better to drop your judgment of others and love them just as they are, at least until you can get to know them better.

Here are some questions to help you explore your assumptions:

When you remember the times you’ve misjudged a person, what is the characteristic (or characteristics) that most often causes you to make an assumption that turns out to be wrong?

As you look at the pictures on this page, what would your reaction be if the couple on the left were black and the ones on the right were white, or if they were mixed race couples?

Since these questions deal somewhat with race, I recommend a wonderful site called Understanding Race. Created by the American Anthropological Association, with funding from the Ford Foundation and the National Science Foundation, it is a well-designed site for the Race Project that explores “differences among people and reveals the reality — and unreality — of race.” One feature that was particularly well done was the illustration of how difficult it is to put people into boxes of one race or another.

In addition to a race blog on “Who is White?,” there is a blog where visitors can talk about their own experiences with race. I heartily recommend you visit the site.

Reconciliation Close to Home

July 18, 2011
Do we criticize those on the global stage for not setting aside their differences and making peace when we, ourselves, remain separated from people with whom we share much more than they do?

Two men shaking handsHave you ever wondered what a space alien would think if he were to observe our world with a highly sensitive telescope and listening device? Don’t you think he would be amazed to find that people—earthlings who look so much alike on the outside, whose bodies function with the same physical organs on the inside, and who all need love, compassion and understanding—are willing to kill one another simply because their philosophies and opinions differ?

Strange, isn’t it? We are engaged in a dangerous and deadly battle to eliminate other people because they see the world in a different way. But of course, it’s not me that’s creating all that commotion, it’s the other guy.

But for right now, today, I want to take our focus on how to solve the seemingly intractable crises in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. It is obviously difficult to create understanding and peace if you live in a different country from a person with whom you’ve become an enemy, if you have had vastly different educational systems, and if you have not had an opportunity to experience the same things.

So let’s look at conflicts closer to home. There is sure to be at least one person at work, in your neighborhood, or in your family with whom you are physically or emotionally estranged because you see the world very differently. But if we are to expect to find peace with people in other countries, but aren’t willing or able to reach across a much smaller divide of broken friendships and family disagreements, what chance does the world have?

So I would like to suggest that there is probably at least one person with whom you are estranged and who would be good to have back in your life. I would also like to suggest that you don’t have to wait for the other person to agree with you before you can be reconciled. Why not take a small step to world peace this week by practicing reconciliation with just one person near you?

Is there someone with whom you would like to reconcile? Is there someone with whom it is important that you reconcile if you are to create greater peace in the world?

If you know the person with whom you need to reconcile, what steps are you willing to take to make that possible?

If you need some ideas on forgiveness before you feel you can be ready for reconciliation, try reading the following articles on Support4Change:

It’s Never Too Late to Forgive
Asking for Forgiveness
Forgiving Yourself and Others