Preface: Originally posted for an October edition of our weekly newsletter, this addresses our Key Concept 5 within the Managing with Aloha philosophy; better communication via our Language of Intention.
I always felt that “she’s a good listener” was one of the best compliments I could get. With Managing with Aloha I ramped that up, hoping to hear my staff say “she’s a good receiver.”
Alonui Hana Hou
As I’ve thought about finishing well in 2019, and using the month of October to do so, I’ve repeatedly been drawn to the theme we adopted for the year, Alonui;
You know ‘Alo’ as our inner word pairing for Aloha: Alo + ha.
Alo, demeanor and presence + ha, the breath of life, combines into the uniquely personal Aloha Spirit we each can share with the world.
‘Nui’ is an amplifier. It boosts, expands, and lengthens concepts, to mean ‘much’ or ‘more.’
Alonui will have our 2019 kaona (hidden meaning) of full presence. Wherever we are, we’ll make sure we’re completely, intentionally, and generously there.
With every value immersion we undertake this year as a Ho‘ohana Community, my first question will be, how can I be fully present within the goodness of this value?—How do I receive? My second question will be, how does this value make me interact with others, and communicate better?—How do I give?
I’ve switched those two questions at times throughout the year, finding I could also be more fully present in my giving, and communicate in a more engaging way with receiving.
The notion of the Good Receiver originated in our Managing with Aloha lexicon with the Daily Five Minutes, (D5M), the short, daily conversational practice we teach managers so they will be better listeners, and as a consequence, devote more of their efforts to following up on requests of them.
Being a Good Giver was initially for the manager’s direct reports—those the manager gives the D5M to—so they would simultaneously learn to improve shaping their conversational agendas for their managers; exactly what do they talk to managers about, and when is it best to do so? There are logistical considerations to effective conversations, though we normally don’t think of them that way, and those logistics are easy to learn as part of culture-building.
Related Reading: All Conversations Are Not Created Equal.
Alonui has reminded me how much purposeful intention is involved with being a Good Receiver, and being the manager, and the kind of person, whom others will never hesitate to approach, talk to, ask questions of, and confide in—especially after we have encouraged our people to speak up more!
As managers, we need to cultivate our presence with calm, and with a stillness that conveys we are ready to engage. We need to know how to successfully turn our attentions completely toward people who approach us, while we turn off everything else. We need to deliberately practice it: How do we put aside whatever else we were doing without losing momentum or forgetting, and how do we turn off all distractions? How do we hone into signal, and turn off the noise?
Managers heads are full of the stuff we deal with and must handle. In my earliest practice of D5M at The Ritz-Carlton, Mauna Lani, I learned to carry and use one of those 3″x5″ field notebooks and a pen with me wherever I went, ready when someone approached me to talk. I had learned to appear approachable, ready in body language though my brain was still firing ahead, and I would often have to say, “Give me 3 seconds to write something down [to bookmark my brain] and you will have my full attention; I’m glad we can talk now.”
When someone approaches them, the Good Receiver conveys, “Talk to me, I’m ready to listen, and I’m ready to be here for you” in their expression, in the stillness and calm of their body language, and in their readiness to engage. Full attention. An eagerness to listen. Unwavering patience. As Alonui reminds us, “Full presence. Wherever we are, we’ll make sure we’re completely, intentionally, and generously there.”—in that moment, with that person.
It can be harder to do than it sounds, can’t it. The people we should be listening most to, often become the ones we take for granted because we are around them so much, and feel we already know them, or know our shared working environment so well.
Well, being ‘around someone’ is not the same as knowing them well, and knowing what’s newly influencing and affecting them.
Much of it comes back to our intention. Wanting to listen to someone and freshly connect with them on a regular basis must be our influence, steeped in our Aloha Intentions to live and work with Aloha in the company and complement of others.
When we want to be Alaka‘i Managers, we give good receiving our purposeful intention, so we will deliberately practice it. At the end of each day, we reflect on how well we may have done with the intention we set, and how we might improve tomorrow, for that is how we Hō‘imi—go forward with more positive expectancy.
The Daily Five Minutes appears in Chapter 11 of Managing with Aloha, “To know well. To seek knowledge and wisdom.” We learn from the people who surround us, and as managers, we learn from our staff most of all.
“In the process of learning to better converse, better listen, and self-develop this habit [of the Daily Five Minutes], people greatly improved their own approachability. Managers nurtured a circle of comfort for their employees to step into and talk to them whenever time presented itself, and conversations were elevated in how people regarded them—they worked!”
Resource pages for D5M are on the blog here:
1. Revisiting the Daily 5 Minutes: Lessons Learned.
2. Learning Paths: Prepping for The Daily 5 Minutes.
Bonus Link: How to Listen.
Take some time to review the benefits of Alonui.
I’ll repeat them here, and save you the click further back within the blog: Turn this into your end-of-day reflection checklist —did you receive well today, and feel any of these benefits because you did so?
- We hurry less, scurry less, and chill more, curbing anxiety.
- We learn to enjoy patience, which helps us learn to savor.
- We still ourselves by tuning into all 5 senses: We hear, we see, we smell, we touch, we taste. We begin to separate those sensations and appreciate each one individually, and new experiences and challenges no longer overwhelm us.
- We learn to concentrate and focus our attentions better; less scatter-brained distractions, less feeling out-of-touch.
- We make personal connections faster and more intimately; we broaden our professional connections with more complementary curiosity.
- We give the gift of ourselves to others, and find they reciprocate in kind.
- We take more initiative, because we’ve learned to rely on our own talents, strengths and intuition more than we had previously—we’re no longer watchers; we’re doers.
- We learn more inclusiveness, and experience a greater willingness to share what we have, because we have the empathy of what we’ve just felt like through our own immersion.
- With all this new learning, we also experience unlearning, for we discard convention in favor of more personal freedom. We don’t settle; we welcome in experimentation.
- We ask more questions, and we listen better to more fully understand the answers we may be given.
We have been good receivers, and humans who are being instead of doing.
“Stillness is to be steady while the world spins around you. To act without frenzy. To hear only what needs to be heard. To possess quietude—exterior and interior—on command. Stillness is that quiet moment when inspiration hits you. It’s that ability to step back and reflect. It’s what makes room for gratitude and happiness. It’s one of the most powerful forces on earth. We all need stillness, but those of us charging ahead with big plans and big dreams need it most of all.”