Share a Cup of Wellness

Share a Cup of Wellness

Once when my youngest daughter was ill with some childhood malady, she called to my mother, asking for a cup of tea. Her grandmother was only too happy to oblige. My daughter thanked her but insisted through her tears that what she wanted was some cup-a-tea. My mother was confused. My little girl explained that she could hear all of us moving about the house while she lay in bed, feeling lonesome and neglected. “I just need some cup-a-tea,” she repeated between sobs.

It took a while before we all understood that what my three-year-old wanted…and needed…was some company.

Every time we awake, from slumber or daydreams, we have choices. We want to cling to the good feelings planted within our brains from our rest and flights of fancy. Or we need to clear the cobwebs from our thoughts or get started on that nagging list of things that must be done. We remind ourselves that it is time to get up and get things done. This is what humans do; our lives demand it. All the thoughtful platitudes scrolling across our social media pages reminding us to relax and simply be will not get dinner cooked, clean the litter box or pay our bills for us.

Human psychology states we affirm wellness when we seek balance in six areas of our being: bodies, emotions, intellect, spirituality, occupation and community. We achieve and maintain wellness when we reach our potential. We also recognize that same need exists in others—we connect to help each other find full potential in all six facets. Wellness is a wonderful state to be in and to produce in others through our actions.

We can resolve then to make more conscious choices, ones that bring us into a desired state of wellness in all six areas. Whether we call our persistent thoughts habits or unconscious patterns, we know some of them are beneficial, healthy even. Others are less so, and there is every shade of gray between the two ranges. To strive for wellness then, we need to determine which are worth keeping and which need changing or casting off? How is wellness enhanced when we connect with others?

The calendar is filled with special months, weeks, and days that raise awareness for a variety of important issues. As humans, we love advocating, supporting and working together for worthwhile causes. We share conversation, food, feelings, thoughts and ideas because we are, at heart, social creatures. Reaching out to touch others, we find connections. Our shared humanness helps us to recognize that we all must do certain things to sustain health. The twin states of being and doing make us feel alive and well. We can also find this when we seek to bring wellness to others.

No matter where we are on the calendar, wellness is always a worthwhile cause. It is both journey and destination. A cup of tea is as good a place as any to start. Shared in the company of friends, it is even better.

Submitted to April 2017


Relational Listeners

The relational or people-centered listener primarily listens for emotional cues rather than just content in conversations.  This type of listener generally will stop whatever they are doing to give the speaker their undivided attention.  The speaker’s cues, both verbal and non-verbal, are carefully considered because people-centered listeners know that sometimes the message being conveyed goes beyond mere words.

Relational listeners tend to focus more on creating emotional closeness with the speaker than offering solutions.  While listening, they seldom speak about themselves, but they do think while listening, often wondering if the speaker is hoping they will pick up on their emotional state and respond to it. Does the speaker want compassion or an empathetic response? Is this person asking for understanding, but not my opinion necessarily? Are they expecting supportive responses rather than analysis, advice or solutions?

The good news about being a relational listener is that their natural tendency is be attentive, approachable and sincere.  At their best, relational listeners are empathetic and respectful of the other speaker, allowing them time, as well as a constructive climate in which to say what is on their mind. They will use verbal cues, such as uh-huh, to indicate affirmation, or agreement, rather than jumping in with too many disruptive comments.  Non-verbal cues, such as shaking their head or reaching out to touch another’s hands or shoulders are other signals that they are really engaged in the conversation.

This style of listening lends itself easily to empathetic responses because it allows the listener to identify with the speaker’s emotions. Again, it is not evaluative; it is not listening to seek clarification.  In empathy, one legitimizes a speaker’s right to their feelings even if they do not necessarily agree with them. It is very important to note that; empathy is not assent.  It merely implies that the other speaker has a right to their feelings.  When we empathize with another, we do not seek to minimize or make light of their dilemma or situation.  We also resist the temptation to reverse the focus onto ourselves. Empathetic responses communicate validation and worth; research indicates that the ability to respond this way can be learned.  Good news because it does not come naturally to everyone.

There is a downside to this listening style, however, in that the relational listener sometime finds themselves becoming too emotionally involved.  That emotional connection can keep them from being able to objectively assess the details within a conversation.  Further, for all of their good intentions, this listening style can often come across as being too intrusive if the other person tends to be introverted, private or a less expressive communicator.

The takeaway on this type of listening style is

  • They quickly pick up and seek to understand the feelings of the speaker
  • They listen for moods and emotional substance over message content
  • They seek to build relationships and connect by giving good verbal and non-verbal feedback
  • They generally tend to be non-judgmental