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7 Life-Changing Skills You Can Learn Even If You’re Broke

7 Life-Changing Skills You Can Learn Even If You’re Broke

Skills are the gateway to a better quality career and life.

The problem is, money is tight for most of us after covering rent/mortgage, car payments, and just maintaining our quality of life. But don’t worry, there are many ways for you to acquire new skills without breaking the bank.

Here are seven life-changing skills you can learn even if you’re broke (and where to learn them).

1. Public speaking

Speaker giving a talk on corporate Business Conference. Audience at the conference hall. Business and Entrepreneurship event.

    When Warren Buffett was asked to give one piece of advice to recent graduates, he said that improving your ability to communicate and speak publicly is one of the most valuable skill sets you can develop.

    Most of us don’t have regular opportunities to improve our speaking skills, but there are cheap options you can take advantage of to start practicing immediately.

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    Where to go: The International Toastmasters organization puts you in a tight-knit community of supportive people with the same goal as you: to improve public speaking skills. Having been a Toastmaster member myself, it’s one of the most affordable ways to get consistent feedback and practice around a great group of people.

    2. Personal finance

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      As basic as it seems, getting your personal finances down is something many people haven’t yet handled. It’s one thing to remember that you should spend less than you make, it’s another to know the details of how much you should be saving, where you should be allocating your funds, etc.

      Where to go: A great book that will teach you how to automate your personal finance is I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi, and as scammy as it sounds, it delivers real value. A free app worth checking out is Mint.com, which automatically integrates your bank accounts and analyzes your spending, budgeting, and income for you in a visual and easy-to-understand application.

      3. Investing

      Making trading online on the smart phone. New ways to make economy and trading

        Once you have your personal finances in order, it’s time to start investing. None of us can get the wealth we want without investing our way there. If you’re not 100% sure which avenue you should pursue (stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.), it’s worth investing some of your time to learn about it before you get into the game.

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        Where to go: Check out a tool like Investopedia, which has an abundance of resources to teach you the terminology of investing, and even have a virtual stock market platform that allows you to invest “fake” money into the stock market. Wealthfront is another great option to go to, which automates your investments for you depending on your goals, risk-tolerance, etc.

        4. Foreign language

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          We’re quickly entering a multilingual era, where everything from culture, business, and people are integrating globally. Whether you’re looking to advance your career, form a deeper connection with your family & friends, or looking to travel in the near future, learning a foreign language is a life-changer.

          Where to go: The good news is, learning a language has never been easier. Take advantage of free options like this Learn A Language Challenge, delivering 10 new most common words in your inbox every morning. Or if you’re busy, like most people, you can check out Duolingo, which is a gamified application, or Rype, which offers unlimited private language lessons 24/7.

          5. Web/Mobile development

          A few shots of 500px team working on exciting new things at HQ here in Toronto

            Have a great idea, but no idea how to build it?

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            Instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on developers or agencies, why not take the time to learn it yourself? Learning how to code has never been more accessible and affordable, and luckily it’s also in huge demand.

            Where to go: Check out free options like Codeacademy, which has you building real applications and websites on their platform, while giving you real-time feedback.

            6. Speed reading

            Reading room with open window

              Books are a game-changer in our lives and careers. They condense the knowledge of experts and thought leaders into one place, and can significantly improve the quality of our lives. The problem is, books can consume a lot of time, especially if we’re busy with our work and personal lives.

              One way to overcome this is to increase our reading speed. The faster you read, the more books you can read in less time.

              Where to go: First, you should take this quick reading speed test to see where you’re currently at. With speed reading, you can either go the technology route, with apps like Spreeder, or you can try to improve your own reading speed through free courses.

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              7. Meditating

              Yoga exercises at the city park

                Meditating has been scientifically proven to increase happiness levels, reduce stress, and enhance productivity to get more done throughout the day. While it was once an uncommon practice, meditation is becoming more mainstream in our culture–for the better.

                Where to go: There are free (with premium options) apps like Calm or Headspace, which will guide you through a meditation practice if you’re just getting started. All you need is 10 minutes a day, and you’ll quickly begin to build a habit that will positively impact your life.

                Which of these life-changing skills were your favorite? Share this with someone that’s also trying to learn something new!

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                Last Updated on February 20, 2019

                How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

                How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

                Possessing effective communication skills is a powerful tool to have. Effective communication skills are essential to success in many aspects and areas of your life. There are a lot of jobs that require you to be a good communicator.

                Strong communication skills help you enjoy better relationships with friends and family. Being an effective communicator will give you advantages in more ways than you can imagine.

                Conversely, being poor at communicating will negatively impact your life.

                Let’s take a look at how to master effective communication skills at work and home.

                What is Effective Communication?

                Probably a good place to start is to paint a picture of what clear communication is.

                Effective communication is defined as verbal speech or other communication methods to get your point across. Sounds pretty simple, right? It does but there’s more to it than that.

                It’s really about how all of us interact and communicate in every aspect of our lives. It’s the ability to say something at the right time; to be able to get multiple people on the same page in a group decision. It’s how that one friend of yours who plans most of the activities is able to get everyone to the same place at the same time.

                Non-verbal communication is key to being effective as well. It’s the ability to have your body language say the right thing so the person you’re speaking to knows your listening.

                Effective communicators don’t react to situations with high emotion. It means not having to say something all the time in every situation. You are even being an effective communicator when you show up to pick your daughter up from the mall when you say you will. You are communicating to her that she can rely on you.

                Are You a Poor Communicator?

                Before we get too deep into how to be a master communicator, let’s take a look at your communication skills.

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                If you find yourself agreeing with a lot of these, you might want to sharpen your communication skills.

                • You’re constantly interrupting – Hey, I know, we all want to be listened to. We all want to get our point across. Most importantly, we want to be understood. If you find yourself interrupting all the time you aren’t listening enough.
                • Doing too much – Many of us are master multi-taskers. It’s not good if you are communicating with someone. When you try to do too much while speaking with someone, you aren’t paying attention to what they are saying. Lack of focus is bad.
                • Rambling – I know of several people I work with who do this constantly. I honestly dread having to speak to them. The worst part is even though a lot of words are coming out of their mouths, they really aren’t saying anything. I’m more confused after they answer my question.
                • Not being direct – Nothing wrong with emails or reports. However, if you can convey the same information quickly and directly to someone, it is much more effective. Why write a 2 paragraph email when you can pick up the phone and say the same information in 2 sentences?
                • Always talking about yourself – Everybody likes to relate things to their own experiences. It draws us together and helps us create a feeling of sharing and community. If you are always coloring someone else’s conversation with a similar situation in your life, people will think you are making everything about you. Don’t be that person!
                • Using a lot of qualifiers – Qualifiers are fine for the most part. When you use them as a crutch most of the time when you speak, it’s not helping your communication. Sometimes, we do this to makes things seem “softer”. Saying things like “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way but…” or “I know what you’re thinking but…” over and over doesn’t help you communicate.
                • Your ears don’t work – If you don’t listen well, you can’t answer someone correctly. In order to be an effective communicator, you have to understand what someone else is saying to you. If you don’t listen with purpose you will only have part of the picture.
                • Bad body language – The importance of body language is well documented. If you don’t look at someone when they are speaking, it appears that you don’t really care what’s being said. This makes people feel like you don’t care what they are saying and it’s not important to you. Other bad body language examples include always crossing your arms and not looking someone in the eyes.

                What Effective Communication Can Do For You

                Let’s take a look at how being able to effectively communicate can help you at work and in your personal relationships.

                Work

                • Better client relationships – You certainly want a great communicator to be handling your client relationships. Strong communicators represent both the client and your company is the best manner.
                • Higher employee engagement – Pretty critical if you are a leader or a manager of people. An engaging and interactive communicator in a leadership position is wonderful for employees.
                • Getting better buy in from others – This is great whether you are a manager or individual contributor. Strong communicators tend to get people moving and working towards a common goal.
                • Helps mitigate conflict – Good communicators are able to help resolve conflicts quicker and easier. This helps smooth things over and keeps projects and initiatives moving forward.
                • Builds trust – You want to be able to trust who you work for and with. Effective communicators are good at establishing and building trust between people and groups.
                • Solves problems – Problems are solved by people with the ability to communicate clearly between groups and people. Those without good communication skills many times add to the confusion of a problem because they are unable to articulate their thoughts and ideas.

                Personal relationships

                • Creates closeness – A good communicator is able to help foster a feeling of closeness with his or her partner.
                • Makes conflict okay – It’s actually better to fight with your partner from time to time instead of never fighting. We all have differences of opinion and points of view. When we don’t express these and bury it inside by not communicating, it just comes out later in a more negative form.
                • Provides support – It’s nice to know that someone cares about you and supports you. A strong communicator will ask how you’re doing and be a good sounding board for what you’re going through.
                • Expressing feelings – People who are not effective communicators tend to be not very good at expressing how they feel. This makes it tough to share your feelings with you partner.
                • Get the loving you want – In order to get the physical, mental, and emotional love you want and need, you have to be able to communicate clearly and appropriately with your spouse or partner. This is done through effective communication.
                • Eliminate mistrust, doubt, faithlessness, and insecurities – Many times these seeds are sown due to a lack of communication. If your partner rarely tells you where he or she is going, you will tend to start coming up with your own ideas. Often these aren’t true but how would you know if you aren’t told?

                Can You Improve Your Communication Skills?

                The short answer is yes, of course you can improve your communication skills.

                Improving or changing anything in your life takes some work and effort but it can be done. You have to keep in mind your starting point and your goal.

                If you are not a very good communicator now and you want to be able to give a motivating speech to a large graduating class, you’d better get working.

                On the other hand, if you get along fairly well in general but want to be able to improve your relationship with your boss or spouse by being able to master effective communication, you may just need some guidance and practice.

                Either way, if you want to master effective communication skills at both work and home, it will take a little work and effort. Doing so will benefit you in many ways.

                How to Master Effective Communication Skills

                In general mastering effective communication skills will help you at both work and home. Let’s look at how to improve verbal, written, and body language communication skills. These will help you create better relationships everywhere you go!

                1. Learn how to listen

                Speaking is only half of the communication equation. Sharpen your listening skills so you are able to process what the other person is saying. You can then respond it a well-informed manner.

                Check out these active listening guidelines to be a better listener.

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                2. Make eye contact

                Having regular eye contact with someone while you are having a conversation shows you care what they are saying. When you are looking at the floor or out the window it gives the impression that you aren’t paying attention.

                Take a look at this advice on how to make engaging eye contact.

                3. Ask questions

                When you ask someone questions, you are able to clarify what they are saying to ensure you get the whole picture. If you don’t understand it fully, ask questions.

                Do you know that it takes some skills to ask questions too? Here’s how to be good at asking questions.

                4. Watch body language

                Watch both yours and the other persons.

                We all know if you have a conversation with your arms crossed the entire time, it gives off a bad vibe. Have open, engaging body language when speaking with someone.

                On the flip side, if you see someone’s eyes glazing over while speaking to you, it’s probably a good idea to wrap it up.

                Take a look at these top 20 body language indicators to learn more.

                5. Speak confidently

                Sometimes this is easier said than done. If you communicate in an open, direct, and clear manner, it subtly shows people that you are confident in what you are saying.

                It doesn’t mean you always have to be right but delivering your thoughts with confidence helps your case.

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                These tips will help you speak more confidently.

                6. Keep it simple

                You don’t always have to be succinct in your communication. There is a lot of value in being able to tell a great story.

                That being said, there are many instances where keeping it simple is very helpful. This is especially true at work in both verbal conversations as well as written like emails.

                7. Know your audience

                You should have a certain style when communicating with your boss. Another style of communication is better with your spouse and probably others with your kids or friends.

                Know your audience to help you communicate the most effectively.

                8. Be empathetic and understanding

                There is a massive amount of power in being empathetic. And I mean that in a very positive way.

                Showing that you are empathetic and understanding to another person goes a long way to creating a great bond with that person. We all want to be understood. It’s that simple.

                Think it’s a challenge for you? These 5 tips for empathetic listening will help you.

                9. Pause before reacting

                There have been a number of times when I’ve read an email that just came in and had an instant reaction to reading it. And I don’t mean a positive reaction. My less effective ways of dealing and communicating has been to send a scathing email back.

                When I’ve communicated more appropriately, I’ve waited a while before I responded. This is true in verbal situations as well.

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                10. Over communicate

                You’d think if you tell someone something that should be the end of it, right? Done deal. Not so fast.

                I’m not recommending you tell someone the same thing 10 times in a row. With as many distractions as we all have these days, it’s generally a good idea to follow up on something you’ve communicated a few times if it’s important.

                Conclusion

                Having effective communication skills at both work and home will help you immensely.

                At work, it helps you in your career in many ways.

                Communicating well with your boss leads to a solid, symbiotic working relationship. You’re able to clearly articulate what you need to do your job well. You can share your vision and strategy with your boss and others. Good communicators are needed in management roles and leading others. Fostering an environment of effective communication leads to a great work environment.

                At home, having effective communication skills will help you achieve the type of relationship you want with your spouse.

                You are able to speak freely and openly about your feelings. You can share your wants and needs in a manner that your spouse understands. Your spouse will feel understood and supported by you which is a wonderful feeling to have. And being able to have a disagreement and work through it due to strong communication skills is amazing.

                Look at how you can master effective communication skills at work and home to help create more satisfying relationships in all phases of your life.

                More Resources About Work Communication

                Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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