Winnis Chiang Newsletter
  Personal Note From Winnis
  Feature Article - The Rewards Of Really Listening
  Chinese Article - Holding Hands
August 11, 2015
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Last weekend, I had the honor of leading four workshops and one parent Q&A group at a joint church retreat in Sonoma County. It was a wonderful experience talking with new people and reconnecting with old friends.

There were some surprises (like taking almost three hours to get there when mapquest estimated 1.5 hours). Thank God that things all worked out at the end. On our way back, James took me to Baker's Beach to see Golden Gate Bridge from a distance. We got there five minutes before sunset!

Like a bridge, communication can be messy at times, especially if the conversation is going only one-way. Maybe a new perspective is needed to make your communication more effective.

Are you frustrated that no one is listening to you? Try listening to them first. I hope this feature article The Rewards Of Really Listening will motivate you to listen better.

Love, Joy, Peace and Hope to You!
Featured Article
The Rewards Of Really Listening

Joanna and Cyndi are sitting at a coffee shop. Joanna has just gone through a divorce and is telling her friend all about it. To a casual observer, it looks as if Cyndi is listening. But take a look at the thoughts running through Cyndi's head: Really, people get divorced all the time; it's time to move on. It would help her if she got a job and lost some weight; that's what I'd do. I hope this never happens to me.

Cyndi thinks she's a good listener. After all, she's not interrupting or fidgeting, is she? But what Cyndi is actually doing is hearing her friend. Like so many of us, she's just not listening.

As toddlers, we learn to speak and to hear what others are saying. As we grow up, we learn to read and write, along with other useful skills. But few of us ever learn one of the most vital skills of all—how to really listen.

To really listen takes our whole attention and focus. The rewards are huge though: happier marriages and families, better communication at work, fewer misunderstandings between friends and others, calmer and less stressful lives. And another bonus: when you listen well, you become someone other people want to listen to.

Real listening can be learned. Research and books such as The Lost Art of Listening: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships, by Michael Nichols, and Mortimer Adler's How to Speak, How to Listen agree on these key points about listening:

Anyone can learn to be a good listener. While some might be better at this skill than others, listening isn't about being educated, rich or popular. (Although being a good listener can lead to being well-liked.) Men as well as women can learn to listen, and some of the best listeners are young children who have the ability to drop everything and focus intently on something or someone.

Listening is active. Many of us think of listening as a passive act, just showing up. But real listening requires paying attention, not just to words, but body language and sometimes to what is not being said. It also means responding, not in words but with our facial expressions, head nods and exclamations ("uh huh") that show we are present.

Listening means turning off the noise inside ourselves. To listen we have to ignore all those voices inside, those judgments and criticisms... Oh, I would never have done that or He just doesn't see how he's making a big mistake. It means ignoring the urge to advise and give suggestions (unless asked) and not trying to "fix" the problem or change the other person. Most people don't want advice, solutions, criticisms or our own stories—they just want to be heard and understood.

Listening means no defenses. Often, when someone tells us something we don't want to hear, we shut down. Or we lash out or justify. True listening requires putting aside our emotional responses and the need to defend ourselves. Perhaps we believe the talker doesn't have the story right or is being unfair; that's okay because it's his story and it's not about right or wrong, fact or fiction.

Listening is unselfish. Listening takes time—and who has a lot of that? It's about ignoring distractions and the urge to interrupt with your own great story. As author Nichols puts it, "Listening isn't a need we have; it's a gift we give."

When no one is listening, our relationships get into trouble. What can you do to keep a 2-way communication channel open to and from those you care about?

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires." (James 1:19-20)

"We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check." (James 3:2)

Author's content used with permission, © Claire Communications

Real Life Story
Holding Hands

Born and raised in Hong Kong, I came to the United States for college in 1973. During my senior year in college, I met James (who immigrated from Taiwan with his parents and siblings) when he was finishing up his masters degree. We were both in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) department at U.C. Berkeley. He asked me out after we completed a digital design project with two other guys. Within a month, he introduced me to his family. The first time I met his parents in San Francisco, they were holding hands when they walked towards us. That surprised me because I never saw my parents holding hands. I sensed they still loved one another in their fifties. This impressed me, and I knew I wanted long lasting love like theirs.

One day James told me, "If everything turns out fine, I would like to marry you." I reacted with, "But I don't know how to cook!" Without missing a beat, he assured me we could eat out every day. So we got married the last week of July 1975, after only three months of dating!

Click here to read the rewards of listening in our relationship.
Winnis Chiang Winnis Chiang is Founder of Parenting ABC, an organization dedicated to training and coaching Chinese Christian parents from around the world to make a difference in the lives of children, youth, and young adults. Her passion is fueled by the new life she received when she found Christ in 1989 after her marriage and parenting were no longer working. She specializes in helping Mandarin and Cantonese speaking parents to get along with, enjoy, and influence their American Born Chinese children.

Winnis is also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in California. She holds a M.A. degree in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling from Western Seminary and a B.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from U.C. Berkeley. Her former careers include being a software engineer, development department manager, stay-at-home mom, counselor of kids and teens at public schools, and children's minister.

Winnis and her husband (now a pastor) have been married since 1975 after only three months of dating. They enjoy their son, daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren!

Winnis Chiang, M.A., LMFT


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