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What To Expect During Engagement

What To Expect During Engagement

Every phase of a relationship has its own joys and challenges–singleness, dating, engagement, and marriage. I recently transitioned from “In a relationship” to “Engaged” on Facebook. The newness of it all since the proposal has dimmed some, but the question has lingered, “Now what?! I’ve never made it this far before!”

For those of you who have, kudos! But for the rest of us, here are some things to know about this new landscape that has opened up in our relationship.

1. There’s a lot of planning

I don’t know if anyone has told you, but engagement is the time of preparation for marriage, primarily planning the wedding! I went into engagement grossly underestimating just how much planning goes into a wedding (and ours is by no means extravagant!). There are so many choices that must be made, so go ahead and brace yourself. Yes, it is a stressful process, but it is also the greatest joy because you are PLANNING YOUR WEDDING!!! It’s finally happening, and you get to decide what color palette to use, what kind and color of flowers to use, where to get a venue… and it’s for you and your spouse-to-be!

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Tip to the dudes from a currently engaged dude: Man up and get involved in the planning process. Your partner needs you (and wants you) to participate–now is not the time to slack off. Jump in with both feet and help your partner out because there’s a lot to be done.

2. There’s a lot of intimacy

The greatest thing about the engagement period is that a whole new level of intimacy opens up between you and your spouse-to-be. The deepest parts of your personalities surface–especially in stressful situations like planning–and you get the chance to learn each other on such a deep level. My fiancée and I are becoming so much closer as we are on the planning path to becoming one. I am growing to love her so much more as we begin the process of building a life together, and it is a beautiful thing. Relish this moment and this season of engagement because it will be stressful, but it will be some of the sweetest time with your future Mr. or Mrs.

3. There’s a lot of family

I’ve heard it said many times, “You don’t marry INTO the family, you marry THE FAMILY!” but I never realized exactly what that meant until engagement. Kels (my fiancée) and I had to spend quite a while coordinating with both of our families to set a date that worked well for them–talk about a task! There is also more involvement from both of our families as we are knitting them both together. Kels and I even talked about how to share holidays between our families–THAT’S a new concept for me.

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Don’t expect the welding of two families to be an easy process–there are two very different cultures of people being united into one. Just like it takes time for two people to get to know each other and learn how to interact with each other, it is the same with families. Have patience and boatloads of grace.

4. There’s a lot of compromise

I’m not a particularly opinionated person, but I still have preferences on occasion. Kels, on the other hand, knows exactly what she wants (even if she doesn’t actually want it…) and I love her for it. Throughout our relationship we have had some disagreements, but even more so during engagement because there are so many more decisions and opinions that go into planning a wedding. But alas, all is not lost! There is a solution to the disagreements. Learn how to compromise with each other. And I don’t mean you each get half of what you want (although sometimes that works). Often it means being willing to say, “You know what, let’s go with your preference.”

There are two kinds of compromise–one of which is an imposter. The first kind (the imposter) approaches a disagreement with the attitude “Well, if I can’t have it all my way, I may as well get it half-way.” This is selfish. It doesn’t solve anything. It just leaves two people unhappy. The real compromise approaches disagreement with the attitude “I want us both to be happy. I’m willing to give up what I want to make that happen.” This method solves problems, and it is a valuable skill to learn for marriage (if you haven’t learned it already!).

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5. There’s a lot of doubt

If you aren’t sure that you want to marry the person you are dating, don’t get engaged. Engagement is not an extended time to see if you want to marry someone. It is a time of planning a marriage and starting the process of becoming one. That being said, I knew Kels was the woman with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life before I got down on one knee. But during our engagement she and I have both experienced moments of doubt and fear and insecurity–marriage is a scary thing! We will be spending THE REST OF OUR LIVES together. I will only be married to HER. And she will only be married to ME.

If that doesn’t give you pause, you haven’t thought about it enough. It’s a HUGE decision. So anticipate some doubt, but don’t let that scare you away. Sometimes you need to make a decision and stick with it. I would encourage everyone to step into engagement with certainty, and then be faithful to the person to whom you have made the pledge of commitment.

6. There’s a lot of joy

Many of these tips seem to have a negative vibe to them, but don’t think for a second that engagement is a drag. As a man currently in the engagement phase, I can tell you that, even with all of its challenges, it is the greatest joy and privilege and adventure of my life. I am stoked out of my mind to be marrying Kels. I am blown away that she is willing to spend the rest of her life building a life with me. Relationships are hard. Engagement is hard. Life is hard. But it is totally worth every moment. I am growing more in love with Kels each and every day–and dang is she getting more beautiful every day, too! I can’t wait to marry her, live in the same house as her, wake up to her, laugh with her, cry with her, get sick with her (it happened this last weekend!), have children with her, raise those children with her… and the list goes on. I have found my treasure, and I’m going to treat her like the precious jewel she is.

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7. There’s a lot of everything

As you may have noticed from reading, or from personal experience, engagement just has a lot of everything. A lot of smiles. A lot of tears. A lot of planning. A lot of intimacy. Just a lot. Everything is amplified during this beautiful season–both good and bad. Roll with the punches. See it all as an awesome adventure. Even the bad things will be fond memories when you look back on it. Because it’s totally worth it.

Featured photo credit: Lemuel Cantos via flickr.com

More by this author

Austen Broome

Social Media/Public Relations Manager and Copywriter for Liquid Creative

Life After Graduation: How To Make The Most Of It What To Expect During Engagement Read This If You Don’t Want To Miss Your True Love. 20 Ways Men Can Feel Fulfilled In A Relationship 8 Tactics To Make What You Say Sound Smarter And More Eloquent

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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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