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Got Decisions? 6 Tips to Harness Their Power

Got Decisions? 6 Tips to Harness Their Power

If you want to direct your life, you have to take control of the consistent actions you take. It’s not what you do once in a while that shapes your life. It’s what you do consistently. So we need to find out what comes prior to our actions. What influences the actions we take, and therefore, the life we live?

What’s the answer?

The power of decision.

Everything that’s happened in your life, both the good and the bad, has started with a decision. These moments of decision shape your life. The decisions you’re making every day of your life will determine how you feel today and who you are tomorrow.

We all have decisions that we can look back on and either be thrilled that we made, or wonder “What was I thinking?” There are decisions you could have made differently that would have made your life completely different than it is today. You could have changed careers, or failed to change careers. You could have moved, gotten married, had kids, or purchased a home. Maybe you decided to start a business or start exercising. Maybe you decided to start or stop drinking or smoking. Think about how your decisions have impacted your life.

Success comes from long term focus. Picture the challenges in your personal life. Whether it’s overeating, drinking, smoking, drugs, or spending problems – they come from a short term focus. Success doesn’t just happen. The life experience we call success comes from the small, daily decisions in which you choose to hold yourself to a higher standard and take control instead of having the environment take control of you.

1. Realize how powerful decisions are

Decisions are a tool available to you that can change your entire life. Deciding and taking action creates the momentum necessary to produce drastic changes to your life in the shortest amount of time.

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Your life is merely the result of what you’ve done differently than other people that are in the same situation. Your actions have produced different results than your friends, neighbors, and loved ones, but why? Because the actions you take are the starting points needed to move you in a clear direction.

The minute you make a decision, you’ve set your life in a new direction. You literally have the power to change in an instant if you decide to. The next time you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, decide to change it. Don’t just sit there and take it. For you to really make a decision, action must follow.

2. Commit to your decisions

What’s the difference in being curious about something and being committed to it? How many times do we hear people say “I’d like to have a new car,” or “I’d like to make more money,” or “I’d like follow my dreams?” Merely stating goals you’d like to do accomplish isn’t the same as committing to them. Just being interested in something while taking no action is not how progress happens. To achieve you must commit.

You may think “I think I could change, but I don’t know how.” That is fear talking. The fear that you don’t know exactly how to make it happen. The fear that you haven’t researched every possible outcome and planned for every possible scenario. If you listen to this fear you’ll never end up deciding on anything. You’ll never start. What most people don’t realize is that you don’t need to plan out every possible detail to change your life. The reality is that you will find a way.

Here’s a streamlined formula:

1. Decide what you want
2. Take action
3. Notice what’s working or not
4. Change your strategy until you achieve what you want

If you follow these steps you’ll create the momentum necessary to achieve what you want. As soon as you’re completely committed, you will find a way.

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Deciding is often much more difficult than committing. Get clear on what you want and decide. Don’t waste too much time analyzing and deliberating. If you’re clear on your values, you’ll be able to decide quickly and change your mind very rarely, if at all. Compare that to people that are usually unsuccessful; they take forever to make decisions and change their mind quickly. A decision is information acted upon.

You can change your life as soon as you’ve decided to fully commit to change; as soon as you stop taking no for answer; as soon as you stop accepting any other outcome.

Making a true decision is cutting off all other possibilities. Making a decision means a complete commitment to achieving a desired result, then burning the boat you sailed in on.

3. Make decisions often

Unsuccessful people make decisions based on their current situation. Successful people make decisions based on where they want to be.

Repetition is the mother of skill. So in order to make better decisions, we simply have to make more of them. Make decisions, learn from them, and keep what works. Learning to make better decisions is like any other skill you’ve learned; the more you do it, the better you get. When you get better at making decisions you’ll look forward to making them, embrace them, and will see them as a way to take your life to the next level.

The power of decisions can change your relationships, your career, your physical state, and your emotional state. It can determine whether you’re just reacting to your environment or taking control. It can determine whether you’re excited or miserable. It can determine whether you feel free or enslaved.

The more decisions you make, the better and more comfortable you get making them. Harness the power of decision by deciding on something you’ve been putting off. Often just deciding on something relieves a lot of stress. You’ll be surprised at how energized you feel.

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4. Learn from your decisions

To make progress you must decide not only what results you’re committed to achieving, but also who you’re committing to becoming. If you’re familiar with my content, you’ve heard me talk about raising your standards. Your personal standards determine what type of behavior you think is acceptable for both yourself and those around you. Establishing minimum standards for what you’ll accept in your life prevents you from falling back into your old limiting ways. You must raise your standards and stick to them. No matter what hardships and tragedies arise.

When the inevitable happens and you make the wrong decision, don’t beat yourself up. Just ask yourself “What’s positive about this? What can I learn from this? How can I turn this around?” The simple gift of feeling like you failed may be exactly what you need to make better decisions in the future. Don’t focus on the short term. Find the lessons to be learned.

5. Stay committed, but stay flexible

The moment you make a true decision to lose weight, that’s it. You will. Your perception of everything changes. Food becomes fuel and exercise becomes a must. When you get off the fence and commit to a decision, you’ll feel an enormous amount of relief.

This kind of clarity is essential. Clarity gives you the power to produce what you really want in life. Most of us are stretched so thin these days that we never really make committed decisions anymore. We’ve forgotten what it feels like to make a true decision.

Often when I talk to people about their weight loss progress, they’ll describe an extremely rigid plan in which they have to follow. But if you asked these same people to design a diet plan for their friend, they’d never recommend what they’re doing. If weight loss is your goal, then the end is what you’re after, not the means. Don’t lock yourself into an unbending routine in which you feel like you’re slacking if you don’t follow it completely. Chances are you designed this routine after a well-rested weekend anyway. You’re making things much harder on yourself if you close your mind off to alternate routes.

6. Have fun making decisions

Decisions can be a source of both relentless problems and incredible happiness. Decisions can be a source of both amazing opportunity and shocking disappointment.

The greatest thing about the power of decision is that you already have the ability to use it. The power of decision isn’t only for a select few. It’s available to you as soon as you summon the courage to use it. Will today be the day you decide your finished holding yourself back? Will today be the day you decide to put your life on a path consistent with your dreams? Ask yourself “Who am I?” “What do I want out of life?” “What am I going to do?” “What will I let stop me?”

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Look forward to making decisions because at any moment you can make one that’ll change your life forever. The next book you read, website you visit, movie you watch, song your listen to, or person you stand next to at the checkout line could be the event that causes something to click. If you really want to enjoy life, you have to expect things to come together for you.

Conclusion

You may be skeptical. You may be thinking “Of course I’d like to change, but I have real problems in my life.” Of course you do, but we all have to start somewhere. What matters is where you’re determined to finish. Ask yourself “What could I do with my life if I was certain I couldn’t fail?”

One of the most beautiful and liberating truths I’ve ever realized is that we all have the power to turn our lives into an inspiring example to others. If you make the right decisions – focusing on the long term and not the environment – you can direct not only who and what is in your life, but who you become.

My challenge to you

Decide to learn a new skill, treat people different, make the call you’ve been avoiding, pursue an education, or change careers. Instead of resisting or making excuses (which is in itself a decision), do you think you could decide to take your life to the next level? Do you think you’d be happier, have more fun, or find peace? Do you think you’d build your confidence and self-esteem? You didn’t have to read this to know the answer is yes!

Featured photo credit: Noelle Buske via flickr.com

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Bob Dempsey

Psychology Major

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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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