Welcome to this issue of "Dr. T's Timely Tips" by Dr. Tony Alessandra. Please send your feedback to info@alessandra.com!

Awareness, Attentiveness and Intuition

Awareness refers to a continuously heightened sensitivity to what is going on in both your internal and your external environment. It has two separate but closely related ways of expressing itself. You must be aware of what is outside you -- aware of the subtle behaviors of the people around you. In addition, you must be aware of your own reactions and inclinations.

It can be as simple as noticing when someone is getting bored, or tired, or stressed. It is recognizing the right and wrong moments for introducing new ideas. It knows when to speak and not to speak, when to act and not to act. Attentiveness is also the ability to tune into a problem and come up with its essential components. "What's really going wrong here?" That insight provides the basis for envisioning something that will truly work better.

Attentiveness means you are open to more information coming in through your eyes, your ears, and your sense of touch -- as well as your kinesthetic sense. It is better known as intuition, or gut feelings. It is how your muscles and the organs of your body react. Empathy is putting yourself in the other person's shoes. Intuition gives you access to a person's feelings when they are mirrored in your own body. For some reason this is especially useful with negative emotions such as fear, sadness, or doubt.

Effective communicators and leaders are good people-watchers. They look for the little signals that reveal what others are thinking or feeling. An especially important key to people watching is eye contact. It may not be a startling revelation, but people's willingness to make eye contact says a lot about how comfortable they are with themselves and with you.

As you become an educated observer of what is going on around you, you will be able to evaluate your gut reactions from a more informed perspective. You will be able to know the world around you because you know yourself extremely well.

How do you know whether your intuition is right or wrong? Well, if you are often mistaken in your intuitive judgments, it is probably because you are being overly safe and overly protective. It is largely a matter of practice, because fears, wishes, negative thoughts, and ego needs can masquerade as intuition. When your ego is involved, it cancels out the gut. Your intuition will often point out possible problems, but your ego just adds to your problems.

A good way to develop you intuition is to start keeping track of your hunches. Write them down and then see what happens. By monitoring which come true and which do not, you will not only see what your record of accomplishment is, you will learn to recognize how true intuition feels. With practice, you will begin to see how genuinely intuitive feelings carry the most power and conviction. You will learn to recognize your fears and wishes, so you will not confuse them with your actually sixth sense.

There's a story about a very educated English gentleman visiting a great Buddhist master. The holy man poured a cup of tea for the Englishman and kept pouring and pouring until there was tea all over the floor.

Finally, the Englishman could not sit silently any longer and asked: "Why are you overfilling the cup?" The Buddhist master replied: "This cup is like your head. It is so full of your own thoughts that nothing else will go into it. You must empty yourself first in order to learn anything new from me."

Attentiveness is a lot like that. In order to be attentive, we need to empty ourselves of other thoughts and set ways of seeing things. When we use our senses to take in all we can about other people, we can much more accurately adjust our behavior to the needs of others. When we are attentive to situations, we have the power to make positive changes for others and ourselves.

Here's to more personal insight,


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Eye Contact: Intimidation or Positive Communication?

Make sure that when you make eye contact with others that it's not coming across as intimidation. If a person doesn't seem happily willing to make eye contact with you, consider your technique.

Are you staring coldly? (As if you were a participant in a staring contest?)

Are you relaxing your facial features and connecting warmly with the other person?

Eye contact works best when it's not construed as intimidation.

Practice making eye contact with yourself in a mirror. Would you want to make eye contact with yourself during conversation? The answer to that question will help you determine how and what ways you may need to readjust your eye contact technique.