“Happiness is a choice that requires efforts at times.”-Aeschylus.
Making choices is a hard thing to do. What could be even harder than that? Saying “no”, if you are a people-pleaser.
Some of us are hardwired with the need to say yes all the time which puts us in hard situations at times. When it is about either meeting your needs or pleasing others, you find yourself in a tricky situation.
You are afraid of being rude and you want to help because you are a kind soul. You don’t want to decline any requests you get but also you have your own needs to fulfill. The moment feels like it’s a “lose-lose” situation whichever option you choose. Finding a way out of such situations is a tough job.
Here below are some ways to meet your needs and make others happy at the same time.Advertising
1. Know the difference between self-care and selfishness
You don’t want to look selfish when you decline a request but self-care isn’t selfishness. Avoiding stressful moments isn’t selfishness – rather it is self-care. Selfishness is when you indulge too much in yourself without caring for the strings attached to you.
It isn’t healthy if you keep ignoring your own needs just because you are too good to say “no” or you have picked up a habit of saying “yes” to everything. You can’t care for others if you don’t take care of yourself first.
2. Realize that you have a choice
When you find yourself in a situation, reluctant to say “no” to a request, the first thing you should bear in mind is that you are free to make your own choice.
You don’t always have to say “yes” to propositions that conflict with your needs. You can choose to say “no” and any reasonable person will respect your choice. The choice is yours. You don’t really need to sacrifice your needs to make others happy. It’s just that you need a little self-care at the moment so that you can be of much more help to them in the future.
3. Propose something else
Now that you have made your choice to decline the request, everything else from that moment onwards depends only on the way you present your choice to the other party. Support your decision with good reasons and suggest something else to help.Advertising
This shows your willingness to help but unfortunately, you can’t take them up on their request. The notion is to keep everyone happy. If you can’t give your time to the request, perhaps suggest someone else who could tend to it. That ought to keep your nose out of it.
4. Present yourself non-aggressively
You have to make sure that you choose only the polite words as you explain yourself to the other person. Sometimes, pushy people tend to get on our nerves but presenting yourself angry and aggressive will certainly play against you in any situation. It is not different in this situation.
It would be wise to avoid dealing with such people. The wiser thing to do would be to anticipate the request and to decline it gently before they even get the opportunity to put it through to you. Anger is the worst enemy of mankind. Keep calm at all times and tackle the situation with your wit.
5. Understand that you are of equal worth to anybody else
Do not undermine yourself. You don’t have to agree to everything that other people say just because you feel that they are worth more than yourself. That’s the first step towards your peace of mind. Do not succumb to bullying or whining. If you don’t respect yourself, it opens the door for others to disrespect you as well.
We have been taught to “give” and “love” and never to expect anything from anyone, but you can always give and love and expect everything from yourself. Know your worth and don’t be afraid to reject requests at times when it matters.Advertising
6. Set priorities and clear boundaries
Ask yourself “What are the most important things to me?” – then schedule them accordingly. Knowing your priorities helps you take the right decision.
A rather clinical approach to take care of the situation would be to weight your needs against the need of the other party and decide on whichever option is likely to bring the greater value of happiness. Know your limits and set boundaries to keep yourself within your comfort zone.
7. Be assertive
Assertiveness is the character of leaders. When you voice out your thoughts with a good deal of assertion, you paint a good image of yourself in people’s mind. Then, people tend to go with whatever you say. Be firm and not very apologetic. Your strong persona does all the work for you here.
But if your statements seem to lack respect, it backfires on you. People take it for rudeness. So, make sure you are being polite and respectful. It helps a lot if you practice choosing the right words for the right scenario.
8. Understand that the happier you are, the more capable you are of making others happy
A positive energy radiates out when you are happy. Happiness is contagious.Advertising
Try and be happy with the choices you make. Happy people make other people happy. If you don’t make yourself happy first, you won’t be able to make anyone else happy. When your loved ones see you happy, it brings happiness in them as well.
9. Learn and accept the fact that sometimes making compromise is a must
Understand that sometimes compromises must be made. It’s all a matter of priorities. If for instance, you’re busy building your website, that’s clearly important. But what if your friend calls in that his home is on fire and he needs you to help? That’s not only important but also urgent. So you have to leave your job and compromise. In other words, sometimes what people are asking of you could be of higher priority to be attended to than your own needs.
You should make a compromise if the request outweighs your needs. Buddha said, “Being generous, just helping one’s relatives and being blameless in one’s actions; this is the best good luck”
10. Go easy on yourself
Realize that you can’t be everything to everyone. Acknowledge that you can’t do everything, after all, everybody has limits. Explain your reasons sincerely. Keep it simple and go easy on yourself.
Avoid the self-conflict by being sincere to yourself. Self-soothe by telling yourself that “what I did is in the best interest of everybody”. You’ll do just fine in every situation.Advertising
Featured photo credit: Smiling Girl via upload.wikimedia.org
Published on May 18, 2021
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.
Table of Contents
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.
Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.
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. And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.
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.
Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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
- 11 Tips to Help Improve Your Active Listening Skills
- 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home
- How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)
Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com
|||^||NCBI: Listening Effort: How the Cognitive Consequences of Acoustic Challenge Are Reflected in Brain and Behavior|
|||^||NCBI: The Influences of Emotion on Learning and Memory|
|||^||NCBI: Brain Mechanisms Underlying Human Communication|
|||^||NCBI: Body language in the brain: constructing meaning from expressive movement|
|||^||NCBI: The Role of the Human Mirror Neuron System in Supporting Communication in a Digital World|
|||^||Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences: The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress|