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8 Things To Remember When Dating Someone With A Guarded Heart

8 Things To Remember When Dating Someone With A Guarded Heart

A guarded heart is one that has been through one traumatic experience after another, leaving a person unable to open up to new friends and loved ones easily. However, this doesn’t mean it’s completely impossible. Those of us with guarded hearts are often incredibly caring individuals who have been hurt in the past and, because of this, will do their best to keep their shields up around most people. If you find yourself dating someone with a guarded heart, understand that:

1. We treasure alone time

People with guarded hears trust themselves more than any other person on the planet. Because of this, we enjoy being alone much more than others may. Meeting new people is a draining process because we have to keep our guard up at all times until we are sure we can trust somebody. When dating someone with a guarded heart, understand they would rather spend a quiet night on the couch with you than out with a group of friends.

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2. We take it slow

Since it’s incredibly hard for us to trust anyone, we don’t dive into relationships head first. In fact, we’re often scared when we find ourselves liking somebody enough to possibly begin a relationship with them. Unfortunately, having been hurt in the past has led us to be untrusting of ourselves, and we will always second guess ourselves when start to be attracted to a certain someone. But if you don’t mind wading into a relationship with us, it will show you’re able to accommodate to our needs.

3. We still fall easily

Just because we take it slow doesn’t mean we don’t fall easily. It’s what got us in trouble in the first place. Those of us with guarded hearts have most likely fallen in love too quickly in the past and ended up getting hurt. However, despite having learned from our bad experience, it’s in our nature to fall for anyone who treats us well from the get-go. Of course, this leads to conflicting feelings of whether or not we can trust the person we’re currently interested in.

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4. We have trust issues

It should be clear by now that people with guarded hearts have a tough time trusting others. If you’re dating someone with a guarded heart, it can be hard not to take this personally. But if you constantly show your mate you can be trusted, and your intentions are genuine, they will slowly but surely open their hearts to you.

5. We listen more than we talk

Having a guarded heart means we’re afraid to air out our business to just anyone. But we do listen to everything those close to us say. Because we’ve learned it’s hard to trust others, we listen intently to what you’re saying, at times looking for reasons to keep our guard up. If you notice us being quiet during a date, we just want to get to know you before opening up about ourselves.

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6. We’re sometimes mysterious

Along with being rather quiet, we might be hesitant to text or call you after a date, and probably come off as being distant. This doesn’t mean we’re not interested in you. In fact, it may be the exact opposite. Like I said, we’re afraid to let others in, especially if we see ourselves falling for them easily. We understand we’re sending mixed signals by being mysteriously distant, but we have to look out for ourselves before we pay attention to social dating conventions.

7. We love and hate to show affection

Just like how we fall easily but don’t want to, we often move too fast when we want to take it slow. This may have been part of our problem in the past: we fell in love too quickly, moved too fast emotionally and physically, and ended up absolutely heartbroken when the relationship came to an abrupt end. However, if you take it slow with us, we’re bound to shower you with love and affection when we’re ready.

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8. We truly care about those we let into our lives

If we’ve let you into our lives, you can be sure we truly care about you. This should be an incredible compliment to those who strive to be as genuine and trustworthy as possible. When we let you in, you’ll find the relationship to become much more smooth, and for us to be much more open with our feelings. Once this happens, be prepared for a long-lasting relationship full of love and trust.

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!

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Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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