the power of the debrief


After living alone for several years a while back a friend moved in. The changes were immediate – both the super-fun and those more challenging as we navigated doing life together – but one of the more impactful ones was unanticipated.

Within a week of having a housemate I noticed a significant improvement in my mental health. I was sleeping better, I felt less ‘stressed’ and I was doing much better at switching off my work brain to enjoy my evenings more.

It was the power of the debrief.

Although we each led busy lives, there’d be some point after work where we’d get to chat about our days. Sometimes that was a quick touching base before one of us headed out to our evening commitments, other times it was more extended – her sitting at the kitchen bench chatting while I cooked us dinner. But in all of its forms it was powerful.

What happened today? Good stuff or bad? How’d that meeting go? What frustration did you experience? Did you accomplish much? Did you encounter any conflict? What’s on for tomorrow? What decisions are you facing? What options are you considering?

In the process of expressing those things out loud I found great release. It was like putting a metaphorical full-stop on that day, allowing me to set it aside to be picked back up the next. Freeing my mind to completely relax or to take on other thinking and processing related to my home or personal life.

It’s a consideration for us all but particularly for those who live alone. What steps do you make to give yourself a mental break? How do you get true separation or distance from work to let your brain process other things? How do you ‘switch off’ from one environment in order to be fully present in another?

SINGLES – how does this apply in your life? Do you have someone to debrief with? Is there a person at work that you can have a close-of-day chat with? Can you call someone on your way home? Is there a method of writing things down or symbolically marking your transition from one environment to another that you could practice?

EVERYONE – consider those in your family, work place or friendship group that might not have a default person to debrief with. Can you offer yourself to them to be a sounding board for decisions they’re facing, chat to them at close of day or invite them to call you on their way home?

 

I say to myself 


I talk to myself a fair bit. Sometimes out loud. There is a constant narrative – internal or external – of self-talk and ongoing attempts to give words to the things I’m seeing, experiencing and processing. 

You might be the same. You conduct whole conversations with yourself – playing both sides – asking and answering. You commentate your activity. You imagine what others might say to you. 

More often though, I find myself intensely impacted by what others are saying. I’m listening for affirmation. I’m waiting for direction or instruction. I’m hopeful for them to tell me I’m acceptable. I’m letting their talk define something of how I see myself, where my identity is found. 

I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lam 3:24

I say to myself God is enough. He has all I need. His opinion of me is the one that matters. His guidance and His truth are my stay. 

I say to myself. I will wait on Him. I will trust. I will rest in His peace and provision. 

What do you need to say to yourself today? 

3 reasons you should try audio reading


I don’t want to overstate this but audio reading changed my life! 

It first started when I discovered that, with the tap of a button, a charming little man would read the Bible to me via the YouVersion Bible app on my phone! Brilliant! He reads while I brush my teeth. I can interact with him – repeating phrases out loud to gain meaning for this external-processing brain of mine. He even knows how to say all those tricky Hebrew names (some of them make me giggle and I mock him as he says them). 

Then I got onto Audio books. As a long time subscriber to numerous podcasts I’ve been an in-car listener for a while but with the help of the Audible app I was able to get to those books that I’d been meaning to read one day. 

Here are 3 reasons I think audio reading is a tool worth considering, if you haven’t already. 

You can redeem your time 

Audio reading can transform your daily exercise, getting ready for work or bed, commuting time (or any other activity that doesn’t require you to speak or listen) into productive ‘reading’ time. I listen to my daily Bible readings while putting a load of washing on or walking to the shops for milk. 

I have ‘read’ 3 books in the last month. Something I would never find the time to do (outside of a holiday) but the audio reading has turned otherwise non-reading times into reading times. (I also read at 1.25 or 1.5x normal speed – because I like the thrill of it!)

It’s called working smarter not harder. 

It is super portable 

Given the ability to host audio reading on your smart phones it means it’s with you everywhere. In an unexpected delay, wait time or slice of quiet when you might have wished you’d been more prepared with something to do – voila! There it is, ready and waiting!

Thank you technology, you’re lovely. So handy. 

Great leaders are readers 

John Maxwell says it, “Leaders are readers“. People growing in their capacity to lead themselves and others are those who draw from wisdom and research, from the expert and experienced to broaden their own knowledge and understanding. 

If you’re like me, you might find it hard to prioritise work time to read. Or to find joy or engagement in the silent practice of reading (I’m a well-documented raging extrovert – silent reading was my least favourite time at school even though literature and language were my strength subjects) – particularly for learning (I find novel reading can draw me in a little more effectively than non-fiction). 

Audio books might just save your mind from inevitable decline by gaining the learning and developmental stretch that all good leaders ought to be pursuing. 

What about you? What has your experience been with audio reading? Do you find it a help or hinderance to your reading disciplines?

an invitation to a sacred space

“Can I ask your opinion on something?” 

Just like that. Sitting across a cafe table. An invitation was extended to enter a very sacred space. 

Asking for another’s opinion is an act of great humility and vulnerability. Inviting someone’s comment on a decision, trusting someone with the concerns of your heart or mind, giving permission for another’s assessment of options you’re weighing up – these are all risky endeavours. 

You open yourself up to disagreement or conflict. You hand over your ability to claim ignorance on a different perspective. You reveal to the other that you know there’s a decision to be made. You invite a potentially higher degree of scrutiny of your actions on the issue. 

Invite others’ opinion. It’s an act of wisdom to seek wise counsel. Ask people who you trust to help you process decisions. Their distance from the issue can provide a more emotionally sober and unbiased perspective. Their wealth of experience and knowledge can be a great resource. And significantly, when opinions are invited they are likely to be more considered – minus the frustration of someone not feeling they have a chance to input. 

Recognise the sacred trust. If someone asks your opinion they have bestowed a great honour. They are communicating trust in you as a person and value in your wisdom. Tread gently, speak carefully; listen as well as speak. And be grateful. 

3 ways to listen better


Did you know you can improve the quality of a speaker by improving the quality of your listening? You have the power to improve the communication capacity of others by engaging more intentionally when you listen. 

1. Look like you’re listening. 

When someone knows you are listening their language, tone and demeanour can be more relaxed. A person fighting for your attention will feel led to be more exaggerated, intense or dramatic in order to capture your interest and garner a response. 

Giving the speaker your full attention – looking at them, stopping what you are doing and facing your body towards them communicates value and engagement. They will be freed to more clearly communicate what they were wanting to say. 

2. Let your face know what you’re thinking. 

I have a very loud face. There has barely been an emotion I’ve felt that hasn’t demonstrated itself on my face – for better or worse!! 

For better, someone speaking to me rarely has to guess what I’m feeling. For the most part my face mirrors the feelings being communicated or the facial expressions they are displaying. In a psychological sense, this mirroring communicates empathy for the speaker – “I am feeling what you’re feeling.” 

Some people are naturally more blank. Their thinking face is expressionless. While you may well be following closely what the speaker is saying, they are not to know this from looking at you. You need to think about what your face conveys to the speaker. 

3. Affirm the speaker. 

Nodding your head, hmmm’ing, and saying “I see”, “oh really?” or, “uh-huh” let the speaker know you are listening even if there’s nothing much else for you to say in response. 

Note – you can’t use these when you’re not listening! It’s unfair to the speaker and ultimately damages their trust in your true attention. These sounds are verbal affirmations to keep going, I’m with you, tell me what happened next. In their absence, in your silence, the speaker is forced to concede they’ve lost their audience or elevate the tone, volume and intensity to try and win you back. 

‘Half-listening’ could very well double the speaking time. That’s bad maths. A speaker can lose focus on their main idea while trying to capture your undivided attention or elicit a response. 

Ultimately, your listening can make the speaker more concise and more interesting. 

What other traits have you noticed of good listeners? How have you found a good listener can improve your communication?