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8 Amazing Things Would Happen When You Let Go of Stereotypes

8 Amazing Things Would Happen When You Let Go of Stereotypes

There’s no single person just like you in the world.  Yes, every one of us is special and unique.  Moreover, we are all different.  Despite we recognize that we have different thoughts, values and life experiences, we easily become stereotypical towards others. We’ve all witnessed and experienced it.  Sadly a stereotype exists in every culture and society, and negative stereotypes seem far more common.

Research shows a stereotype impacts not only victims but also ourselves on unconscious level. Stereotyping is a common form of discrimination, and can be detrimental to those who experience it. People are often generalized and labeled based on gender, age, appearance, ethnicity, religion or any other factor in their identity. This can make stereotyped persons feel unfairly judged and their feelings on this matter can permanently alter their view of themselves and the world around them.

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So open your heart and get ready to share amazing things that would happen when you let go of these ugly stereotypes.

1. You will be free from judgment.

Despite our best efforts, we all judge others. It might be over small things or even bigger issues.  However, once you practice to put yourself in his or her shoes and try to understand where the person may be coming from, you will become more empathetic towards the person and the situation.  Gradually it will be easier to catch yourself before you make a judgment. Judging a person does not define who they are, it defines who you are.  As Dalai Lama says, “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.

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2. You will become more positive person.

A stereotyped person views others in a negative light. In turn, the person who is stereotyped throughout their lifetime will become more aggressive and hostile toward people they encounter. These people may develop a bitter outlook on society, often assuming that others will discriminate against them and becoming defensive at the slightest inclination of a stereotype.  You see the vicious cycle? Thus, be the person who transmits positive energy instead of spreading negative emotions in you and others.

3. You will make more nonconformist friends.

Birds of a feather flock together.  You attract what you are.  There are probably some people who fit whatever stereotype you can think of and as a result, you may reject them right off the bat.  As the world is crowded, a lot of us feel isolated and miss the opportunity to connect. Imagine how many more allies you can make amongst over 7 billion people in the world, more than 320 million in US alone. Certainly you won’t be lonely.

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4. You will radiate more love to the universe.

Once again, remember Mother Teresa’s saying; if you judge you can not love.  You don’t have to be religious to claim we are here to serve, or a love for all humanity.  Giving and receiving love is a fundamental right and our deepest desire in every single soul.  A stereotype becomes a stumbling block to express love. One of scary effects of stereotypes is how it’s labeling people unfairly and can adversary shape our culture. Take the Holocaust and ongoing armed conflicts for examples. Welcoming someone that’s different than you with open arms is a foundation of building a peaceful place to live.

5. You will be a role model to children.

Stereotyping will impact the way how children think about others and themselves. Stereotyping is often learned at young age and encouraging bullying behavior that they carry into adulthood. They grow up thinking that they should behave or become certain way to be accepted and that’s the ideal.  Some biased messages from media also can be the blame.  You don’t have to be a parent or teacher to guide them not to be stereotypical.  Start with you first.  Treat others equally with respect regardless of sex, sexual orientation, race, culture, religion or personality. They are watching you and learning from you.

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6. You will be open minded.

In the Tedx “The danger of a single story”, Chimamanda Adichie argues that knowing a single story of a person or a country can cause misunderstanding and create stereotypes. This demonstrates how people are influenced by a single story of a country or a person, and are not aware of many other stories that could change the perception of them.  However, we can change and grow now. We can start making effort into getting to know people on a real level. How great would it be if we all tried to take steps towards greater acceptance in our lives?

7. You will be authentic to yourself.

This time, let’s assume you are the victim of being stereotyped.  Your self-esteem and self-image could have been damaged.  Sometimes in life, you are the one in your way.  You stand up for yourself, the good, the bad and the ugly, and what you believe to yourself and others. That’s when you are not judged by yourself who is your worst enemy. When you practice self-acceptance without judgment, you will find yourself being confident, empowering and authentic to your true-self, whether you are accepted by others or not.

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8. You will contribute harmony to the society

Making assumptions about people’s cultures and where they come from is just something else that makes us inherently human, and will probably continue for a very long time. But we can all afford to be more aware of the world around us and respectful as we’re trying to understand different and unusual things. With all of this we can change our perception of the stereotypes that are deeply rooted in our culture and make of this a better society. With one change at a time, one person at a time, you can make a difference to create a more harmonious setting in this multicultural community.

So, stop the blonde jokes at the office and give a pay raise to your female manager for a job well done.

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Kris Lee

Emotional health and communication writer

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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!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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