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8 Undeniable Reasons Your 40s Are Your Golden Decade

8 Undeniable Reasons Your 40s Are Your Golden Decade

Full disclosure: I just turned 30 last month. But I am something of an old soul, and am definitely starting to feel more “myself” the older I get. While your twenties are a time in which to truly discover yourself, your thirties are a time to establish yourself in the hopes that, when you turn forty, you have a solid foundation and can start to feel as if you’re finally in control of your life. Once you hit the fourth decade of your life, you can be happy knowing that:

1. People finally see you as an adult

I got called “sir” last week, but it was by a teenager. When I’m 40, I hope to have established myself enough that people older than me will stop seeing me as a young buck, and start taking me a bit more seriously. When you’re in your 20s and 30s, veterans of your industry will often proverbially thumb their noses at you whenever you express your ideas or opinions, believing you to be “too young to know what you’re talking about.” There’s something about turning 40 that makes this argument obsolete, regardless of whether or not you do actually know what you’re talking about.

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2. You don’t need to be current

Even at 30, I absolutely love coming across a headline on Facebook reporting that two celebrities are dating, and I have no idea who either of them are. I think current clothing trends are ridiculous, and I have no intention of seeing most of the current summer blockbusters in theaters right now. As you hit 40, you realize all that garbage is stuff you cared about because you had nothing else to care about. Now, you have a wife, two kids, and a mortgage to pay. When you were 20, that didn’t sound too appealing. But at 40, you wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Especially not for a pair of skinny jeans.

3. You actually own things

Your car was paid off years ago. You can actually afford to put additions onto your home. You own lawn furniture, let alone living room furniture. You can go to the store and buy a big screen TV without it meaning you’ll be eating Ramen noodles for a month. You’re comfortable enough financially to not freak out every time your wife says “Let’s go to Target!” You might not have that private jet you thought you’d have by this time in your life, but at least you can afford to pay more than the minimum on your credit card bills.

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4. You don’t have a fear of missing out

FOMO, as the kids are calling it these days, doesn’t overcome you anymore. You don’t see Friday nights as an automatic party night, and you don’t even really care when your birthday comes up anymore for that matter. When your friends get together and you can’t make it because of life’s responsibilities, you don’t spend the rest of the weekend wishing you had gone. When they recall all the crazy stuff you missed, instead of thinking “Man, I should have been there,” you think “I guess I had to be there.” When you hit 40, you know you’ve had your time to party, and missing out on one night isn’t that big a deal.

5. People don’t judge you, and it doesn’t matter if they do

You’re not in high school anymore. People aren’t going to judge you for what you wear, or how you act. And if they do, you either take it in stride, or give them the what for. You also don’t care when people make fun of you for saying “what for.” Because what others think isn’t important anymore, you can feel comfortable going to the convenience store in sweats and a t-shirt, or not having a good hair day. You have way too much else on your plate to worry about the big red pimple on your nose (unfortunately, those don’t go away – but your attitude toward them sure does change).

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6. You’ve surrounded yourself with true friends

Again, high school is over. The friends you have at 40 are true-blue pals who will be with you through thick and thin. They’re not just around for the party, but will also help you out when you’re in need. Not only that, but your friends’ family have become your family, and vice versa. Your kids play together and your spouses get along great. You might not see each other as often as you like, but when you do get a chance to get together, it feels like you haven’t missed a beat.

7. You enjoy things you used to think were boring

At one point in the comedy Old School, Will Ferrell’s character mentions “a pretty nice little Saturday” in which he and his wife will be going to Home Depot, and maybe – if they’re lucky – Bed Bath & Beyond. There are either two extreme schools of thought on this: People who think this is a terrible way to spend a Saturday, and people who think this is an awesome way to spend a Saturday. Chances are, if you’re in the latter group, you’re most likely over 40. If you’re any younger than that, you’ll most likely have to pretend not to have enjoyed your time shopping for bath salts and fragrances when you’re with your buddies. After 40, no one will think twice when you say you can’t go fishing because you’re looking for new siding for the house.

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8. You’re still young

Being 40 shouldn’t mean half your life has passed you by. It means you still have an entire lifetime left to live. You might not be as quick as you were when you were a teenager, and you might not be able to stay up all hours of the night on a weekday like you did in college, but there’s still so much to do on this Earth. Your forties are a perfect time to do all of the things you’ve always wanted to do. I’m not saying go all “mid-life crisis” on your family, but you should definitely plan the vacation you’ve always dreamed of, or learn a skill you’ve always wanted to try. Just because life has gotten busy doesn’t mean you should be too busy to live life. Make the most of it!

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm1.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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