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Shut Up and Listen

Posted by on March 12, 2013 in For Entrepreneurs, Secrets of Effective Communication | 2 comments

I didn’t mean to offend you.  This is the title of a TED talk by Ernesto Sirolli, renown authority in sustainable economic development.  An entertaining talk and so true from a man who spent years trying to help people in communities around the World.

This is another in my series on secrets of effective communication. If you want to help someone, shut up and listen.  His point really struck a note since I was in the “business” of human development and public health for years before I became a hand analyst.  And his message is a constant reminder to me as I guide people to the life they want to live.

Can you spot me surrounded by a family?

In the 1970’s, I was the health and nutrition consultant for a human development project in the Philippines – in a tiny village perched on a reef in the middle of no where.  The name Sudtonggan means the end of the swamp.  Young and naïve, I joined a group who had a blueprint for this village and the same blueprint for the many others we set up shop in around the world.  It was pretty cool on paper…but it was a blueprint that we brought with us to them.  We had modest successes.

What was missing?  Truly listening to the community.  For instance, we had the brilliant idea of creating more gardens – using waste to build compost.  Instead of the present method of growing tomatoes, onions and squash in the little holes of the reef, we imagined community gardens.  What did we discover?  There was no waste. Everything was eaten and reused.  Then the rains came and the area we prepared for our first garden became a cement like quagmire of mud.  Oh, then we brought rabbits to raise? They all died – too hot, wrong climate.  Get the drift here?  And did we ever listen to what was going to work best economically?  What did they need to better themselves?  I could tell you many stories!

As Sirolli shares, ask them what they need and act as a resource rather than the SOURCE.

How many times have you been stuck?

o      Seeking an answer but lacking clarity.

o      Wishing there was a formula to get you moving but have lost confidence

o      Longing for prosperity, love etc etc. and clueless about how to get it

Ever had a life or business coach give you the answers?  Ever had a friend or loved one offer some unsolicited advice?  Your lucky if you say no to these questions.  I have a dear friend who shuts me out every time I think I have an answer for her – even when she asks for advice.  I shut out those who want to “fix it” for me.  They have the perfect website or book or recording for me to listen to ….

These are all acts of kindness and sometimes we do give our power away because we want someone to give us the answers.  Sorry, it does not often help in the long run.  I have clients say to me after a Life Purpose Mapping Session – “what do I do now? What are my next steps??  My best response is to ask them some questions for them to ponder.  To inspire them with confidence that they have the answers within them.  I have given them a map – it up to them to interpret it and launch their journey.  I then become a RESOURCE  not the SOURCE.

You are your own authority, your own fount of wisdom.  You may need someone to help you open some doors or offer some tools to help you move forward.  Just had a stream of thoughts as I write this….

I wonder if we really have given our power away, lost belief in ourselves, muddied up our innate knowing.  Too busy, not enough reflection time, wrong schooling, lack of role models, too much stimulus and too many possibilities…..My head is spinning.  If you are not where you want to be, you might think others have the answers.  And, yes, you can be inspired by someone else’s story or discovery.  You can adopt someone else’s way of doing things to get us moving. I do all the time.  In the end tho’, it is up to you to create your own blueprint for joy, success and meaning.

So shut up and listen to your own inner voice – the answers are in there.  And when you need a little help from your friends or a professional guide, make sure they are the type the will “shut up and listen” to help you discover the answers that may have been there all the time.

And please tell me when I am not shutting up enough!

If you want to become a member of the HandTales community to help you discover, claim and live your authentic story, Start Here[it’s FREE] Lots of great resource for our members including 3 discovery recordings to jump start your journey.  Happy travels.


  1. Thank you Janet. Love your approach and that statement:
    To inspire them with confidence that they have the answers within them. I have given them a map – it up to them to interpret it and launch their journey. I then become a RESOURCE not the SOURCE.
    Very helpful!
    Danielle Tonossi CHA -IIHA

    • Danielle: So glad that it resonated. How are you doing? I miss our tutoring time together.

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