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How My Divorce Surprisingly Made Me A Much Stronger Person

How My Divorce Surprisingly Made Me A Much Stronger Person

Recently, I was sitting on the beach with my friend Adam Gilad, who had just finished leading a workshop for divorced men. I was reflecting that since his divorce, he had become one of the happiest, most fulfilled people I knew – even going so far as to lead other divorced people towards their own happiness and self-realization.

I asked him if his divorce had made him stronger, and his answer floored me. He opened my eyes with what he said:

When I got divorced, I thought it was the end of my life. I thought I would lose the connection with my kids. I thought no one would ever date me because I was a “failure” having “lost” my family.

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But what should – according to the popular script –have been my mid-life crisis, turned out to be my mid-life awakening. What I thought was an exposure of my most powerless self for all the world to see turned out to be the springboard of my happiest and most powerful decade ever.

I became stronger as a man – I had to – in fact, I had the privilege to – take stock of who I was, free of the habits of being in a relationships. I got to choose how I wanted to spend my evenings, my weekends. How I wanted to eat. What I wanted to read.

When I didn’t have my kids at home (50%) of the time, I now had MORE time to self-develop and build my confidence than I did before. I attended workshops on self-expression, advanced sexuality, internet business building – and discovered whole new skills and communities I never would have found before.

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I became stronger as a father. Instead of taking the back seat on dinner and homework at night, I either cooked or grabbed a book for us to mine for gems over dinner. Mealtimes became learning times as my sons and I delved together into what it means to be a man, a leader, an artist. Because I had my sons for only 50% of the time, every minute became more precious – so we bugged out for more snowboarding trips, more movies together, more rivers to run, more adventures.

But more important than all that, my sons got to see their Dad in his deepest vulnerability rebuild his life. They saw me nervously preparing for dates. We discussed sex openly and honestly. As I got to know myself better and know what made a good companion, we three guys sat together and talked about how to choose a great partner and what qualities to look for.  We also talked about what to do to be more likable, nurturing, and valuable.

If, as Brené Brown says, vulnerability is the measure of our courage, I became damned courageous. If a relationship broke up, we’d crack open some cold ones and reflect on life, hope, heartbreak, and resilience.

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I became stronger as a provider. Up until my divorce I had been a screenwriter and producer but now needed to create a steadier income. By necessity I threw myself into entrepreneurial training and created a content-marketing business that has sustained me for 11 years. One of the proudest moments of my life was when my then 11 year old, watching me taking notes during a webinar said, “You know, Dad, a lot of people talk about getting rich. But you’re doing something about it!”

In fact, I wasn’t trying to get rich, I was trying to pay the mortgage!

But above all, I became stronger as the driver of my life. When we are married, we fall into habit and can potentially stop taking responsibility for forging our own destinies. We may go with the flow rather than carve new and exciting channels into our futures outside of our comfort zones.

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I soon began to reframe everything. I stopped saying “when I got divorced” and started saying “when I got single” – because I didn’t want to identify with being a “divorced man” but rather a man who was single and was looking forward, not backward.

I corrected those who said that a woman with kids had “baggage”. Instead I encouraged the perspective that a woman’s children were just “bonus” people I get to love in this life.

I undertook the study of what makes love thrive, what makes life worth living, and what it means to be inspired during these years we have on Earth. I challenged everything. I traveled to Peru to study with shamans. I traversed the world with entrepreneurs. I built businesses. Danced in the desert till the sun came up. Dove deep with astounding and sensually alive women. I raised my sons into happy manhood– and recently, married a woman who raises me to my highest self every day and every night.

At the end of my post-divorce decade, I told my sons, while we were sitting on a Caribbean beach after a day of kiteboarding lessons, “Hey, if I died today, please don’t mourn me. I’ve had the most amazing life. Celebrate that I was here.”

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Nick Bastion

Love Expert, Relationship Coach, Author

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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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