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How to Know What We Really Want

How to Know What We Really Want

Ever spend ages trying to make a choice, only to get even more confused the more you think about it? Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one. We all suffer from prolonged indecision from time to time. When the answer isn’t clear to a choice, we start off by analyzing the costs and benefits, only to end up more lost and undecided. Then, there may be other people in your life who make decisions almost instantaneously, appear sure of themselves and hardly ever regret their choice afterwards.

So what is it that helps be so sure of their decisions? The secret of this confidence and decisiveness comes from knowing what you truly want. Life blesses us with unique and individual talents, likes and dislikes. Our intuition, a.k.a. gut feeling, guides us by taking these internal factors as well as external circumstances into account when we have to make choices. The more we are in touch with our intuition, the more we understand about what we really want, and the more clear a decision will become. In order to seek answers that come from within and not from others, start off by considering the following:

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Is it purely fantasy?

Understanding the difference between what appears attractive to you and what really attracts you can be enlightening. If you asked me what kind of life I wanted, it would go something like this: To live in a spacious two bed apartment that overlooks Central Park in NYC, cab downtown in a Chanel suit whilst fielding calls from clients who pay me several million a year to deal with high profile litigation cases. And to hang out at the cafe just downstairs with a group of close friends who happen to live nearby after work.

Hold on. How much of that resembled a scene from the TV series Friends, or Suits? We have fantasies that can include being international pop stars, billionaire inventors or famous housewives of reality TV, but these can be due to the external influences such as social media, parents and friends rather than what we genuinely want. People often chase after things that appear attractive, but discover afterwards that they don’t want it at all.

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To figure this one out, see what you spend time doing on a daily basis, and how you feel about it. You can dream about being a killer attorney but if the thought of law school hasn’t crossed your mind, or you shudder at the thought of sitting in the library working through complicated legal jargon from morning to evening, then this may be fantasy rather than genuine desire.

What kind of fear am I feeling?

When you cannot decide on something because you feel scared, this can be very telling about what you really want. Human beings are born to be instinctive, and fear could be your intuition’s way of telling you that it is a bad idea to go ahead with a decision, especially if you don’t want it. However, there is another type of fear that can come out choosing, when we think something is too much for us to handle, despite wanting it. This usually represents a foreseeable challenge from the choice that we want, but we lack the confidence in ourselves to handle it.

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How do you tell if it is a good or bad fear, and thus figure out if you really want something or not? Look at the way your body reacts as you think and talk about it. When you find positive body cues such as being eager to talk about it with friends, looking up or leaning forwards, this could indicate that you really want something despite being apprehensive about the risks and challenges involved.

On the other hand, should you find yourself stressed out whenever you project yourself into the choice, such as shoulders constricting, frowning or feeling downcast when talking about it, this could be your intuition warning you against it. By understanding which type of fear you are feeling, this can help you decide if the choice is something you really want to go after.

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What are my friends like?

It is uncanny how quickly we can click with new friends in life, but still feel like strangers to other people that we’ve known for many years. Regardless of how long you’ve known someone, we are more drawn to some people than others. Revealing indicators of who these people are include the time you choose to spend with them, as well as those you genuinely respect. More often than not, they share common values with yourself, as this facilitates a mutual and deep understanding that helps you ‘click’ with each other. By observing the values and interests of those closest to you, this can shed light on your own character, likes and values as well.

Am I willing to accept the costs?

If you are unsure whether you truly want something or not, think about whether you would be willing to put up with the hardships that come along with the choice. Most people analyze choices in terms of the benefits, such as what they gain from choosing something over another. Whilst this method can work well in situations where one choice clearly offers much more objective benefits than others, such as choosing the job that pays the most money, it may not reflect what you truly and subjectively prefer.

One way to decide is to look at the costs of each decision instead. For example, many people would love to lose weight, but not many want it enough to put up with the hardships of feeling hungry at night, going without dessert and going to the gym even when tired or unmotivated. When you truly want something, you will be much more willing to endure the side discomforts and challenges that arise from the journey to the goal. It also helps to remember that ultimately, there are no wrong choices in life. As the saying goes, “if you don’t make the right decision, you can make the decision right.”

Featured photo credit: Man Standing On Top Of Mountains After Adventure Hike by Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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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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