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7 Life Barriers People Overcome to be Successful

7 Life Barriers People Overcome to be Successful

Becoming a success isn’t something that happens by accident, chance, or luck. The Mark Zuckerbergs and Michael Jordans of the world have the same 24 hours in a day that we all have, and they face some of the same barriers that we face on a daily basis.

The difference lies in how they utilize their time, and how they maneuver past these barriers without wasting a single moment. Some of the most successful people of our time have had to deal with:

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1. Age Discrimination

There’s this misconception in society that 20-year-olds are too young to know enough about the world to succeed, and anyone over 60 is too old to be considered in touch with the realities of the modern world. Though neither stereotype is necessarily true, people in those age ranges have to accept the existence of these beliefs and work hard to ensure their age doesn’t define them. Young adults can do this by bringing unique perspectives to the table rather than regurgitating what their college professors droned on about for hours. Older people can find success by being keeping up with contemporary changes in the way work is done throughout the world. In fighting against age discrimination, you can show the naysayers that you’re worthy of a challenge, regardless of your age.

2. What others think

If you want to be successful, you can’t take what others say personally. As a writer, I’ve had to change my habit of seeing criticism in a negative sense, and realizing I can take negative comments and use them to improve my future work. It’s not so much that I stopped caring altogether what others have to say, but that I started looking past criticism to see constructive feedback. Along with this, you can’t compare yourself to other people. The only person you should compare yourself to is the person you were yesterday; as long as you’ve made some sort of improvement on your former self, you’re on the path to success.

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3. Toxic people

Some people don’t want to see you succeed, because then they’ll feel inadequate themselves. These people need to be dropped from your life before too much damage is done. There’s a saying: “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” In other words, you should surround yourself with other like-minded people who thrive on success, and who continuously look for ways to improve their lives. By doing so, you’ll want to push yourself to be a better person as well. Hanging out with complacent people will only lead you to a dead-end road in life.

4. Fear

Some people have a hard time overcoming fear. Fear of failure, fear of being made a fool of, fear of being laughed at. First of all, fear is all in your head. Yes, in middle school your classmates might have laughed at you if you fumbled with your note cards during a speech, but they were 12. The truth is, no strangers care enough about you in the real world to put effort into embarrassing you. In fact, that you’re fearful of what others think simply shows you’re passionate enough to push past the fear and get your ideas out there. And as for a fear of failure: everybody fails. Successful people fail all the time, but they don’t give up. They use their failures as a learning tool and as a springboard to success.

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5. Negativity

Negativity is a combination of being surrounded by toxic people and being afraid of failure. The toxic people won’t share your enthusiasm for an idea, and will bring you down from your motivational high. Being afraid of not performing well will stop you from doing your best at every given moment. Combined, these two powerhouses of negativity add up to a gigantic waste of your time and energy. Don’t dwell on what could go wrong; imagine how incredible your life will be if everything goes right.

6. Dwelling on the past and future

Dwelling on the past is called guilt. Dwelling on the future is called anxiety. Again, both of these are a major waste of time. You can’t go back in time, so there’s no point in dwelling on past mistakes. Yes, you should always learn from mistakes you’ve made in the past, and work your hardest to avoid making them in the future, but that’s about all you can do. Dwelling on the future, on the other hand, is a self-fulfilling prophecy: If you spend all of your time worrying about failing in the future rather than preparing for that same future, you’ll (obviously) be unprepared when the future becomes the present, and you will most likely fail. For example, just imagine a high school student staying up all night worried about failing an exam. In doing so, he actually makes it likely he will fail his exam because he was exhausted from being up through the night.

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7. The state of the world

You’ve probably heard the Serenity Prayer:

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”
Yes, there are a ton of things going wrong in the world today, but there’s no sense in letting these events get you so down that you fail to improve your own life. There will certainly be things in your life you’ll wish you could change but you are unable to. Let these things go, and focus on what you can do to make the world a better place. Even if it’s something small in your community, you’ll still be doing your part to improve some aspect of the world you live in. By doing so, you’ll also be improving your own life.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm8.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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