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April 27, 2015

Learning to Listen During Career Change

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Have you ever said to someone I hear you when someone is really asking you to listen? I have. There is a big difference between hearing someone and listening. In 24 years of counseling people in career transition and career direction, listening matters most. Listening to the right people, the encouraging people and listening to your inner voice requires a lot of work. What is the price of not listening as you look at your career transition, your career progression? It’s high. It’s particularly hard to listen through the distractions during stress and career change. But listening and using proper discernment is the most important part of career transition.

It doesn’t have to take place in a meeting. It doesn’t need to make you voiceless in a conversation. But the price of not listening to the best voices and associating with (and listening to) negative people, especially during career transition, can be devastating. So, who do you listen to and why should you listen more than you exhort during any time of career change? How do you listen more effectively to the powerful voice vs. the negative voice inside your head? In the workshops I have held over the last half dozen years with career movers, professionals and jobseekers alike, those who to listen to the positive people around them seem to do the best.

Here is the Merriam-Webster briefly on the definition of listen:

verb lis·ten \ˈli-sən\
: to pay attention to someone or something in order to hear what is being said, sung, played, etc. —used to tell a person to listen to what you are saying: to hear what someone has said and understand that it is serious, important, or true

1: to pay attention to sound 2: to hear something with thoughtful attention : give consideration 3: to be alert to catch an expected sound

Here are just three of the types of distractions that stop us from listening to the wise voices around us and the discerning voice within us. During any career or life transition the amplified confusion does not help us really listen, not hear, but really listen to wisdom. Making wise choices requires choosing healthy alternatives to the overwhelming nature of our world.

1.

Our Over Connected Selves – yes your “smart phone”, your computer, the 24/7 in your face news cycle, and your new anything electronic, including everything social media actually prevents us from listening. These days it’s hard to tune out and focus. It seems like everyone either has or feels like they have ADHD or ADD.

The Healthy Alternative? Tune out the noise! Choose only a few devices, apps, programs and people to help you discern and operate functionally during your search. Prioritize what matters to you and what should or should not require your full attention. Many of your to do list and seeming priorities scream for our attention but they do not deserve our attention!

2.

Someone Else’s Success or Failure – comparison games seem innocuous and our culture emphasizes and thrives on competition. To the degree competition makes us better I love it. It’s the American Way! But comparison games based on income, money invested and money gained, losing a job or winning a job, or almost any factor can create negative emotions and triggers especially during any kind of career change or setback.

The Healthy Alternative? Be Happy for Everyone (including You). Applaud someone’s success and learn from other’s setbacks and find ways to encourage them. But do not let your emotions get pulled into an unhealthy comparison game with anyone. No matter what your setback – money, job, title, personal issue – use any setback as a set up for a come back.

3.

The You Can’ts. If you allow those who think you are too old, too young, not technical enough, not capable or not whatever then the enemy of your career progression wins. Often we hear we cannot do something and we listen to that voices. In career transition I know that tuning out the naysayers can provide the kind of mental space needed to grow.

The Health Alternative? Tune Into the You Cans. As the father of a son who happens to have some very special education needs it’s very hard not to look at, talk about and generally give life to what he cannot do. But if I concentrate or anyone in his care circle focus on what he cannot do all day he literally will not grow into what he is capable of. The same is true during career transition. Growth occurs by improving your skills in the areas you can improve. Focus on those.

 

Listening not just hearing requires the elimination of distractions. It requires a positive mindset, a mind that is not beset by the loud voices of our culture that beg for our attention every minute and every second of the day. Learning to listen to your inner voice and using discernment as you progress in your career means quieting the loud voices around you and learning to listen to the positive, encouraging voices around you and within you.

I’m working on it. How about you?

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