Spiritual Reminders, Courtesy Of An Arizona Wildfire…John Page Burton

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On Wednesday, June 15th, 2016, my wife Diana and I saw a large cloud of smoke rising high above the White River Apache Reservation in northeastern Arizona. This massive cloud of smoke would become known as the Cedar Fire. From the sheer size, color and location of the gigantic plume towering over our community, we instinctively knew we were about to embark on a precarious journey. A wildfire is dynamic, unpredictable and indiscriminate. The Cedar Fire did not disappoint. Over the next 8 days, my wife and I would have an opportunity to practice much of what I have written about and taught for over a decade. In short, the Cedar Fire provided me an opportunity to walk my talk.
If you follow my work, you know that I encourage my audience to focus on gratitude, compassion, faith, trust and to let go of material and emotional attachments. Over the past decade, I have written two books and over four hundred articles related to the dynamics of human behavior. The Cedar fire certainly illuminated the inherent goodness of people, especially when confronted with a tragedy or potential threat. With that being said, we will always have a minority of people who would find something wrong with winning the lottery.
A TALE OF TWO PEOPLE
 
A few days ago, I enjoyed a conversation with one of our local fire heroes. He shared a story of what three of his fellow fire fighters had experienced on day four of the Cedar Fire. These three heroes had come in from the fire line to purchase groceries at a local market. While waiting in the check out line, they overheard a conversation between a female customer and the stores manager. The customer was upset because these men had come into the store and were so “smelly and filthy”. She demanded the store manager do something about this situation as it was making her uncomfortable. One can only imagine the utter disconnect these brave heroes were experiencing as they left the store to return to the dangerous job of protecting her property.
Another story involved a woman who lives on a fixed income yet despite her limited resources CHOSE to purchase cases of water and several pizzas which she personally delivered to the fire command center. She “wanted to do something nice for all of the people who were working so hard to save her home”.
Talk about two ENTIRELY different perspectives!
NOTHING BRINGS A COMMUNITY TOGETHER LIKE A GOOD OLD FASHIONED WILDFIRE…
On day two of our pre evacuation status, I jokingly said to my neighbor, “nothing brings a community together like a good old fashioned wildfire”. In truth, this is exactly what Diana and I experienced during the first few days of the Cedar Fire. Our neighbors communicated with each other on a daily basis, meals were prepared and shared, wine was poured and laughter, albeit apprehensive, filled the smoky air. Several of our friends and neighbors were off the mountain but still managed to check in daily to see how we were doing. Even from afar, we remained connected.
When I was asked to pen this article from a spiritual perspective, I readily accepted the challenge. During our three hour drive from the White Mountains to our home in Phoenix (we had chosen to self evacuate on day 8 as I was having some respiratory challenges due to the thick smoke and the lingering effects from a three year bought with Valley Fever) Diana and I had a chance to decompress and talk about all of the things we were reminded of during our week of uncertainty.
SPIRITUAL REMINDERS…
GRATITUDE. Fortunately, as of this writing our home is still standing in the middle of a beautiful forest. During the course of the Cedar Fire, Diana and I found ourselves revisiting many of the wonderful memories created during our time on the mountain. We also talked about all of the amazing people God had brought into our life. Our gratitude overwhelmed our fear of potential loss and helped us remain grounded. We practiced an attitude of gratitude and it truly had a calming effect on our psyche.
FAITH. Faced with uncertainty, we must have faith in God’s plan. My wife has always described faith as “trusting in that which you cannot see or do not know”. Admittedly, this is a hard thing to do. As the days wore on, many in our community began to express frustration and outrage with the lack of communication from the fire lines. It’s hard to have faith in the face of fear. Fear is a bi product of the unknown. It was calming and refreshing to hear many of our friends and neighbors speak over their fear. “This to shall pass”, if He brings you to it, He will bring you through it” and “it’s in Gods hands now” were some of the uplifting messages spoken throughout our community. I was inspired.
COMPASSION. In any natural disaster, there are many whose only evacuation option is to stay at a local shelter. Not knowing if we would have a place to call home was quite humbling yet we found ourselves thinking about the plight of those who are less fortunate than us and we routinely thanked God for blessing the Burton’s with more than enough of everything. Everyone in our neighborhood had somewhere to go and like us, most have a home somewhere else. With that being said, I know many of us were putting on a brave face as the thought of losing our home was indeed troubling. I couldn’t help but think how difficult this would be for those without options. Engaging in heartfelt conversations with our friends and neighbors was cathartic.
TRUST. My wife and I are type A personalities. We are used to making key decisions and driving desired outcomes. We realized from the onset that we had absolutely NO control over the scenario that was unfolding and we would have to trust the firefighters to deliver us from harms way. I must admit this was a very humbling feeling as both Diana and I are solution oriented.  We resolved to let go and let the fire heroes do their job! Our trust paid off!
ATTACHMENT. When faced with the prospect of a short notice evacuation, one must quickly prioritize what is irreplaceable and quickly come to terms with leaving everything else behind. As mentioned earlier, I have earned a living speaking and writing about the need to let go of our attachments. By day three I found myself wanting to rent a U Haul truck to transport “my stuff” to a storage facility that was out of harms way. Luckily, trust and faith kicked in (plus there was a run on the local U Haul store, ha ha) and I was able to practice the sacred art of “letting go and letting God”. Letting go of our attachments is a much more peaceful way of being.
Soon, the Cedar Fire will be characterized as an extremely close call. It was! The fire instilled fear in many, in others a newfound awareness of the realities associated with living inside a sprawling forest and for at least one person, a sense of relief that our markets won’t be over run with “filthy, smelly”, public safety workers. My hope is that eventually everyone realizes that it doesn’t take “a good old fashioned wildfire to bring a neighborhood together”, it takes conversation.
John Page Burton is a freelance writer and the author of Wisdom Through Failure, Guiding Principles for Life & Business (2014) and Knowing Sh#t From Shinola, Conquering Life One Breakthrough At A Time (2015) To learn more about John visit http://www.johnpageburton.com

Does It Really Matter What Jesus Would Do? John Page Burton

jesus-statue--1“Living up to the lofty standards of Jesus is impossible in the real world” stated Jane in response to her husband Bob’s comment “ask yourself what Jesus would do?” After 15 years of marriage, Jane and Bob are experiencing significant challenges in their relationship. Jane is also experiencing a great deal of frustration with her career. To further complicate matters, Bob is a very religious person while Jane has spent most of her adult life rebelling against what she describes as “a rigid, religious upbringing, wrought with hypocrisy”. Bob firmly believes in living the 10 commandments while Jane gives them very little thought. This scenario prompted me to ask myself two questions. First, how hard is it to live the 10 commandments in today’s fast paced, high tech world? Second, does is really matter what Jesus would do? After all, it’s our life experience to live as we choose.
I decided to take an objective look at the 10 Commandments and see if maybe it was in fact “impossible to live up to the lofty standards of Jesus” while navigating through today’s world.
THE 10 COMMANDMENTS…
1. I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD.  Sounds reasonable to me, someone has to be in charge. Seriously, regardless of our religious affiliation, we must possess a great deal of faith to move through our earthly experience. We must have faith in our parents, teachers, political leaders, employers, spouses and most importantly ourselves. Having a healthy respect for GOD establishes a foundation on which we will build our worldly values. This is a great commandment to the get the ball rolling!
2. DON’T WORSHIP FALSE IDOLS. Madison Avenue executives work tirelessly to convince us the key to success and happiness is our ability to make money and purchase cool, fashionable, stuff. Celebrity spokespeople, on behalf of corporations, look into the camera and seductively encourage us to be one of the “cool kids” by signing up for their credit card, driving their luxury car or vacationing on their amazing cruise ship. We must not base our self worth on our ability to accumulate money and stuff.  This is an emotionally healthy commandment.
3. DON’T USE THE LORDS NAME IN VAIN. There are thousands of words in the English language and some of us choose to use the ones that incorporate our creator and his son. I recommend GOSH DANG and JEEZY WHEEZY as two good alternatives. Beyond using the Lords name in vain, we are well served to stay away from insensitive speech toward people of different ethnic, religious or economic backgrounds. Cleaning up our language and speaking in a respectful manner is the foundation of this commandment.
4. KEEP THE SABBATH HOLY.  Different religions observe the Sabbath on different days. Mine happens to be on Sunday. The Sabbath is an abstinence from work. It’s a time to re-charge our batteries. Most importantly, it’s a time to celebrate our creator. This commandment brings to light the importance of rest.
5. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER. Beyond our parents, I interpret this to mean respecting our elders, teachers, employers, law enforcement officers or anyone else who is a person of influence or authority.  Being courteous and compassionate is a great way to be in relationship with our family of origin as well as the world around us. This commandment encourages us to be respectful people.
6. DON’T MURDER ANYBODY.  This commandment is dead on. Nothing kills momentum like a trip to prison. All puns aside, this commandment speaks to anger management. Most murders are committed in a moment of rage, however, many are planned and executed because of greed and envy. For example, most of us have seen a story on Dateline involving a “hired hit man” that is paid to kill an unsuspecting business partner. If you find yourself  feeling intense anger, greed, envy, jealousy or any other low level emotion, I encourage you to seek help. The Ego is very powerful and in one irrational moment lives can be changed forever. This commandment encourages us to use self control.
7. DON’T COMMIT ADULTERY. Sex is a very powerful drive. Adultery is a selfish act that can have life changing consequences. Today’s business environment presents a plethora of opportunities to find ourselves in a compromising position. Business travel, social engagements and employer intimidation can lead to acts of sexual indiscretion. I encourage my clients not to use sex as a means of getting even. If you find yourself moving toward an adulterous act, I recommend engaging a coach or therapist to help you put your thoughts and feelings into perspective. A 20 minute indiscretion can haunt you and your loved for the next 20 years. This commandment encourages us to keep our clothes securely fastened.
8. DON’T STEAL. Many of us equate stealing with shoplifting, burglary or white collar crime. I contend that many of us steal everyday and don’t give it a second thought. We steal from our family when we stop off at the bar on the way home from work. We steal from our employer when we surf our social media sites during work time or we “fudge” on our expense reports. We steal from our government when we routinely apply for entitlement benefits rather than seek a job. We steal from our country when we protest against our military or we fail to cast our vote in elections. This commandment encourages us to focus on being in integrity.
9. DON’T BEAR FALSE WITNESS. Most of us have seen a television news story about someone being released from prison after new evidence proved they could not have committed the crime they served time for. Knowingly ruining someones life in this manner is pure evil.  At one time or another, all of us have gotten caught up in gossip. The purveyor of gossip usually has a gleam in their eye as they share the latest dirt on some unsuspecting soul. Rather than work harder for a promotion, there are those who choose to start a covert “smear campaign” aimed at someone they consider a threat to their potential promotion. These are three examples of bearing false witness. The extent of the consequences varies but the intention is the same, to cause harm. This commandment instructs us to refrain from lying.
10. DON’T COVET YOUR NEIGHBORS WIFE OR HIS BELONGINGS.  What we appreciate, appreciates. Many of us hold the false belief that the grass is greener in our neighbors yard. The grass is greener where we water it. Envy is a lower tier emotion and we are well served to run our own race. We can’t expect GOD to bless us with the abundance he desires to deliver, if we are focused on our neighbors house. This commandment encourages us to be grateful for what we have and hold.
There is no doubt in my mind that all of us are capable of living the 10 commandments. It’s a choice we can make everyday. Asking ourselves “what would Jesus do” serves as a  reminder to take the higher ground when we are faced with life’s temptations. I know what Jesus would do matters to me.
John Page Burton is a life and business coach and the author of two books. To learn more visithttp://www.johnpageburton.com

The Law of A.C.T.I.O.N. John Page Burton

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Most of us are familiar with the “Law of Attraction”. Numerous books have been written about this law and how we can use it to manifest the things we desire. One of the most famous books written about the law of attraction is called The Secret. The Secret was also made into a blockbuster movie, viewed by millions of people worldwide. After reading The Secret or watching the movie, many of us set our intentions and waited anxiously for our dreams to manifest before our eyes.
THE TRUTH…
Setting significant goals, constructing vision boards and speaking daily affirmations are important first steps toward bringing about what we desire, however, nothing of any real value will be created without applying “The Law of ACTION“.  In other words, just thinking about what we would like to attract into our lives will not bring about what we desire. If we desire to bring about what we are thinking about, we must set our intentions and then implement….

THE LAW OF ACTION….
Accountability. We must be willing to take full responsibility for the goals we establish and the choices we make. When we possess a bottom line mentality, we will make choices and decisions that are congruent with our internal compass. The Law of ACTION leaves no room for justification and blame. We are the CEO of our life and we must be willing to take meaningful ACTION steps toward our objectives. Simply thinking about what we desire will not bring it into our reality.
Clarity. What do we desire to bring into our lives? We must design and EXECUTE specific strategies for accomplishing our objectives. (ACTION) Our clarity of purpose (VISION) keeps us on track and serves as a motivator whenever we face obstacles that threaten to derail our dreams.
Trust. Many of us have been led to believe that all we have to do is “visualize” what we desire, say a few affirmations and poof, it will appear. I am a firm believer in visualization, however, we must be willing to take ACTION if we want to manifest what we desire. ACTION requires us to trust ourselves and the process. When we doubt ourselves or our ability, we become vulnerable to those who peddle fiction. Again, simply thinking about what we desire will not bring it into existence if we are unwilling to do the work and trust the process.
Integrity. We must be in integrity with ourselves and others. Taking shortcuts or outright cheating will derail our success process. In other words, if our ACTIONS are not congruent with our stated intentions, we are destined for disappointment. Strive to be a person of integrity and allow the universe to line up the right people and opportunities to take your life and business to the next level and beyond!
Objectivity. If we find ourselves trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, we are well served to change our approach. Being open minded and remaining detached from expectations is the key to staying in ACTION mode. If something isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it. If something isn’t working, replace it.
Natural. Over time, The Law of ACTION becomes a habit. We simply set our intentions and take massive ACTION! 
I’m a big fan of the Law of Attraction and an even bigger fan of The Law of ACTION. When we combine the laws we can’t help but enjoy a  rich, rewarding life!
John Page Burton is a Life and Business coach and the author of Wisdom Through Failure, Guiding Principles For Life & Business and Knowing Sh#t From Shinola, Conquering Life One Breakthrough At A Time. To learn more visit http://www.johnpageburton.com

5 Characteristics Of True Personal Power…John Page Burton

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If you are a student of personal growth you have more than likely heard the words “personal power”. I routinely refer to personal power when I facilitate seminars and I have written about it in both of my books. I am often asked by clients to define personal power and to explain how a person comes to possess TRUE personal power. I define personal power as “a person’s ability to consistently take meaningful action and by so doing set an example that others desire to emulate”. In short, personal power is a bi-product of consistent right action. It is a MINDSET.  

Let’s take a closer look at what I believe are 5 characteristics commonly found in people who possess TRUE personal power…

PATIENCE. They keep things in perspective. They embrace the process.  They allow things to evolve. They don’t fear failure. They are not reactive when dealing with people or situations.
OWNERSHIP. They take ownership (responsibility) for their choices, decisions and actions. They refrain from blame. They operate with a bottom line mentality.
WISDOM. They make informed decisions based on prior experience and results. They crave knowledge and possess a profound willingness to learn. They are teachable regardless of their experience or level of success.
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE. They manage their emotions and seek to understand the emotions of others. They are empathetic. They make outstanding leaders because of their ability to connect with and relate to others. They make decisions based on information, not emotions.
RESPECT. They respect themselves and others. They treat ALL people with dignity and respect. They may disagree with you but they will refrain from making you”wrong”. They respect different points of view.
TRUE personal power evolves over time. It is not exclusive to a chosen few but rather to those who commit to mastering these 5 characteristics.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Do You Treat Yourself & Others With Dignity Or Disdain?…John Page Burton

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What does it mean to treat a person with dignity? What does it mean to treat ourselves with dignity? For many, dignity comes naturally. These folks have a strong sense of self worth and take great pride in their ability to honor themselves and those around them. For others it is quite the opposite. They have an uncomfortable relationship with themselves and routinely treat people in a disrespectful manner. All of us have known people who made fun of or were disrespectful toward disabled people, the homeless or people from different religious, economic and ethnic backgrounds. How we feel about ourselves tends to be a direct reflection of how we view the world. I have often said if you truly desire to experience a person’s true character, observe how they treat the poor, homeless, disabled or uneducated members of our society. Our character tends to shine the brightest when we believe nobody of importance is watching us.

Let’s take closer look at the word DIGNITY. Being a person of dignity means that we are emotionally grounded and are mindful of how our words and actions effect others. It is important to remember that NONE OF US CHOSE THE CIRCUMSTANCES WE WERE BORN INTO. 
DIVERSITY. Our world is made up of people from an array of backgrounds and cultures. Our ability to relate to people from different walks of life speaks to our level of our emotional intelligence. Are we open to learning and growing or are we closed and judgmental? Do we judge people at face value or do we take the time to get to know them? What messages are we conveying to our children? Dignity (or lack of) is learned.
IDEOLOGY. All of us hold long standing beliefs. Our current belief system is based on our life experiences. Treating people with dignity means that we are honoring their belief system. We may not agree with their point of view, however, we don’t make them wrong for their beliefs. For example, if a person grew up in a house were violence was a normal means of communication, they likely developed a different relationship (belief system) with the world around them than a person who grew up in a home where they were encouraged to engage in respectful, non violent communication. Seek to understand where the person is coming from. This is a much more dignified, enlightened approach than simply basing our opinion on assumptions.
GRATITUDE. But for the grace of God, I was not born disabled, poor, homeless or unable to obtain a higher education. Because someone was born under a different set of circumstances does not make them any less of a human being. Our ability to be grateful for all of our experiences allows us to be more compassionate toward others. Dignity is grounded in gratitude.
NOBILITY. The dictionary definition of nobility includes the words goodness, decency, honor, integrity, generosity and humility. Need I say more?
IMPERFECTION. No matter how successful we have become or how many material possessions we have collected, we all have imperfections. When we routinely judge others for their perceived “imperfections” we are playing a role in which there is only one CEO. (Chief Enlightenment Officer, who also goes by GOD) Our challenge is to show gratitude for our blessings and show grace to those who are having a more challenging time on the journey. Remember, “when we point a finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at us”.
TOLERANCE. In layman’s terms, tolerance is our ability and willingness to tolerate the opinions, behaviors and “perceived flaws” of others. We can do this even though we may not agree with them. The Ego is always up for a good challenge and for many, this proves to be the ultimate challenge.  Letting go of our need to control is an important first step in this process. Listening is the most important skill we can develop. When we really listen to others we can begin to understand their point of view. Again, even if we don’t agree with them we have treated them with dignity.
YOU. I can control my emotions and behaviors and so can YOU. It’s entirely up to YOU to choose whether YOU treat yourself and others with dignity or disdain. Our primary responsibility is to become growth oriented, compassionate people. We can’t do this until we have gained emotional mastery. In other words, we must take our eye off of the outside world and look inward. Those who hold a high regard for dignity know that to see the beauty in others they must first see the beauty that has always resided inside of them.
Here’s to DIGNITY!

5 Childhood Messages That Keep Many Of Us Stuck…John Page Burton

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Within the personal growth industry there is a widely held belief that 65% of our belief system is formed by the time we are 8 years old and by age 18 over 90% of our belief system has been firmly established. Do we believe the world is a scary, unjust place or do we believe it’s a safe place with unlimited opportunity? Are we bold or fearful? Do we ask questions or do we simply accept things at face value? Do we live with passion or are we complacent? Are we willing to take risks or do we prefer to stay in our comfort zone? Are we tolerant or intolerant of people who hold different beliefs than we do? The answers to these questions tend to be a direct reflection of the messages we received during our formative years. Having interacted with thousands of people in my capacity as a life and business coach, I have been able to identify 5 childhood messages that have kept many of my clients from achieving the results they truly desired. On a personal note, I spent years “re-wiring” my own belief system, much of which was a direct result of the messages I received throughout childhood. Below are 5 childhood messages that are keeping many of us stuck.
THE MESSAGES…
*Shut Up, unless you have something important to say! Many of us have still not figured out what constitutes important? We remain silent even when we know that something doesn’t feel right. We “keep our mouths shut” in abusive relationships, unfair work environments and in our dealings with friends and family. Over time, “going along to get along” has become our way of being. Our challenge is to begin using our voice in a respectful manner whenever we have something to say or add to a conversation. Each time we verbalize what is on our mind we are building muscles of courage and most importantly we are honoring ourselves.  This is an important first step toward self empowerment.
*Quit being so selfish! In my book, Wisdom Through Failure, I refer to a character named Helpful Harry. Harry has spent most of his life doing everything for everyone and very little for himself. Harry is a people pleaser. Harry is also an ANGRY GIVER! Whenever Harry does something for himself he immediately feels guilty and begins rationalizing his behavior. Harry will buy a beautiful new tie and then return it to the store an hour later because he feels guilty for spending money that “should be going to something else”. Harry’s challenge is  to become self centered. When we are self centered we are choosing to nurture ourselves and we are focused on doing what is in our best interests. This does not mean that we have to quit being generous, it means that we prioritize our needs. We can start out by doing something nice for ourselves once a week and build from there. Being self centered is not selfish.
*Why can’t you be more like your sibling? The message most of us received was that we were not good enough. Many of us are still comparing our success to the perceived success of others. For example, when I self published my first book, Wisdom Through Failure, I found myself comparing my book to every other author in the personal development arena. Once published, I obsessively tore through my book looking for every error, criticized myself endlessly and drove my wife Diana crazy with my never ending revisions. I was blind to my own content because I was comparing my work to that of Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins and Jack Canfield. When I stopped comparing myself to these “heavy weights” and focused on creating the best version of my book an interesting thing happened…my book gained traction and has become very well received by a worldwide audience. Our challenge is to run our own, unique, race! Comparing ourselves to others is a flawed practice because we really don’t know what has taken or is taking place on the other person’s journey.
*Quit acting so stupid! The message many of us internalized was that we were not smart. Far too many have become chronic underachievers due mainly to a fear of doing or saying something that could be perceived as foolish. In my practice, I routinely work with clients who are able to breakthrough this limiting behavior by creating a new story and hence a new reality around the intelligent, innovative people they actually are. Our challenge is to replace a past lie with a new truth.  A good coach can help you achieve this breakthrough by effectively guiding you to your new truth.
*Quit being so emotional! As a coach, I interact with clients who are very comfortable showing their emotions and others who will fight tooth and nail to keep them in lock down. Many men, including myself, have been admonished since childhood that showing our emotions is a sign of weakness. “Real men don’t cry”, “don’t be such a wimp”, “toughen up” and “quit acting like a girl” were all phrases I heard  growing up. On the other hand, it is socially acceptable for women to show their emotions, in fact it is expected. Recently, I was involved in an intervention designed to remove a wife and three small children from an abusive home. The husband, a former college football star and successful business owner had been arrested for a significant act of domestic violence. Everyone who knew the couple seemed shocked and most characterized them as such a “happy couple”. What they didn’t know was that the husband had developed a significant drinking problem shortly after his brothers death, had become very distant, refused to talk with his wife about his mood changes and finally one night when she pressed him to talk to her he broke her jaw, 2 ribs and dislocated her shoulder. In a subsequent conversation she admitted that she had never seen him cry or discuss his feelings as it pertained to his brothers death or any other challenge in his life. This is a tragic example of what can happen when a person doesn’t release their emotions in real time. Being an emotionally healthy adult involves being able to release our emotions in healthy ways. Our challenge is to give ourselves permission to share our feelings rather than hold them in to a point of combustion. A good coach or therapist can help us design a healthy strategy for managing our emotions.
In reality, most of us also received some very empowering messages designed to encourage and inspire us to become the best version of ourselves. I welcome you to take a look at any areas in your life where you feel stuck. Are any of these childhood messages contributing factors to your frustration? If so, it may be time to take the proactive first step toward creating a brand new story to tell yourself.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback! #myindustry

5 Tips For Engaging In Respectful Communication…John Page Burton

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Our words have the power to hurt or heal. The words we speak can leave a lasting impression on the the people we connect with. The First Amendment affords every American a right to engage in free speech. Our democracy is one of the only countries in the world where citizens are given the unfettered freedom to agree to disagree and disagree we do! The Ego is a primary driving force behind our thoughts, words and actions. In my role of coach and inspirational writer/speaker I have enjoyed the privilege of interacting with thousands of amazing people. I have come to believe the way we verbally communicate with others is a direct reflection of how we feel inside. People who communicate in a biting, sarcastic, tone of voice are usually angry, bitter and resentful. People who communicate in a kind, caring, compassionate, tone of voice are usually grounded in self love. People who communicate in a forceful, demanding, dismissive, tone of voice are usually insecure and fearful of being out of control. Effective, quality, communication is a “two way street”. In other words, quality communication requires us to be receptive to differing points of view. It doesn’t mean that we will always agree but it does ensure that the other person’s thoughts and belief’s will be honored in a respectful manner.
 
5 tips to help us become more respectful communicators….

*Don’t strive to make the other person wrong. The first rule of respectful communication is to avoid accusatory language. When we set out to criticize or make another person wrong, we erect a wall that prevents meaningful communication. By listening to a different point of view we invariably learn something new.

*Listen carefully, avoid making assumptions. There is a reason God gave us two ears and one mouth. God wanted us to listen twice as much as we talk. When we really listen, we have a chance to hear what the other person is actually saying. When we half listen, our understanding is based primarily on assumptions. Listening is an art, one that takes a great deal of practice to master. Throughout history, the great communicators have been excellent listeners.

*Let go of the need to control the dialogue. Every productive conversation should feature different points of view. By being respectful of this fact, we can strive to actively seek balanced conversations. In most cases, the person who tries to dominate the conversation actually repels the conversation. Remember, forcing our position, weakens our position.

*Ask questions to gain clarity.
As a personal development writer, I am often approached by family or friends regarding articles I have written. Often, they believe my article is directed toward them. First, if the shoe fits wear it, second, I write about the human condition and draw my material from an array of life encounters and experiences. I often weave examples from the past with experiences in the present. I do this to paint a picture for my readers. Rather than assume things, we are always better served to ask questions in order to gain clarity.

*Seek to understand the other person’s perspective. As the late author, Stephen Covey wrote in his international bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “seek to understand, then to be understood”. When we strive to understand why someone feels a certain way or holds a specific belief, we open a door to respectful, effective communication.  Recently I asked a client why he felt the need to hold such a tight rein on his teenage daughter. As an outsider looking in, it seemed like he was obsessed with keeping her from participating in what I would deem “normal childhood experiences”. “When I was 16 years old, my 12 year old sister was abducted and raped by a neighbor. I vowed that I would never let that happen to my children. Maybe I have taken it to the extreme but I just want to keep her safe”. Because I sought to understand his reasoning, I had a much better understanding of where he was coming from and how he viewed the world around him. Seek to understand!

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback. Cheers!