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If It Makes You Happy, Does It Really Matter What Others Think?

If It Makes You Happy, Does It Really Matter What Others Think?

In the last week I have had quite a few conversations with people who have told me their business ideas. The conversations between them all were consistent, they all admired that I had started my blog page and YouTube channel. They all admired the guts it took to start something that was in the public eye. It was also stated that they would not have the guts to do something so public in case they were to fail.

When they said this, I thought to myself, “There is that possibility that all my hard work may not go anywhere–and yes, everyone would know as I have posted, shared and publicly announced my page, blogs, website and YouTube channel.” That tiny voice of doubt attempted to creep into my head. Then, I realized I was being like everybody else. “Maz, stop doubting yourself, you know that gets you nowhere.”

The Process of Doubt

I experienced my first case of writers block when it came to writing for another Motivational Website that had approached me. I jumped onto their site, had a look at some articles and thought, “Yes, this is aligned with what I like to write about.” I then jumped onto their YouTube channel and the first video I saw had over 20.5 million views. I hadn’t even come close to experiencing this kind of exposure. I felt a lump in my throat as I tried to gulp.

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“What am I supposed to write to get this many people engaged? What if nobody likes what I put out there? I have only been blogging for a month, what if people think I don’t have enough credibility?” Various questions of doubt started to speak to me. I had no clue as to what to write about and I started to feel nervous.

Faces of people smirking at me reappeared in my head. There were people that smirked when they found out what I was doing. People that thought I was crazy starting my new venture and actually thinking I would get somewhere with it. “You really need proper camera gear if you are going to film on YouTube, You need to take tutorials on editing, You should work on your grammar. You need to stop twitching your face or making those expressions you do.” All the voices of everyone telling me what I was doing wrong floated around me.

I stayed home all weekend to work on The Fitness Freedom Flow, yet didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere. Since I have started my blog page, writing came so easily. I would be inspired by an idea and an hour later, it was online and published. Things just seemed to flow. Now, here I am struggling to even think of the first sentence or even a topic to write about. Frustrated, I decided to give it a break and sleep on it.

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When I woke up this morning, I had my green tea as per usual. I then had some breakfast and was drilling my head as to what I should write. “Maybe I should just write for my own page for now”. I still had no clue as to what I should write about. I was at a dead end. I decided to meditate and calm my mind as it was racing at a million miles an hour.

This is why I have decided to write this blog. I realized that I finally came to a road block because for the first time since starting my blog page, I stopped and started thinking about what others thought of me. I started listening to the people that doubted me. I started to doubt my own ability and was questioning if what I was doing was even going to be worth my time.

Clearing the Flow

Sometimes our minds get so cluttered and are filled with too many thoughts. For me, it helps if I calm my mind and slow down. This is where meditation has helped me. I find when I do this, my intuition tells me things and helps to guide me in the right direction. I gain a sense of clarity and it helps bring me back down to earth. Meditation keeps me grounded. If you don’t practice it, I highly suggest you give it a go. It really does work wonders.

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I must say, since starting my blog page, I feel it has given my life great purpose. I jump out of bed and the first thing I do is start working on my page. Not because I have to, but because I want to. I thoroughly enjoy being able to speak of my experiences and talk about topics that I am passionate about. It is also an amazing feeling when I receive emails from people all of the world letting me know that the blog they just read has inspired them. I absolutely love hearing their own stories that I am lucky enough for them to share with me.

My goal is to be able to help motivate and inspire others through my own experiences. There are a lot more topics I want to discuss in the future that I feel can make a difference and maybe, just maybe help the right person at the right time. That possibility excites me. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am following my purpose and it is the very reason why I have experienced some of the things that I have in the past. If I can do something that gives back goodness to the world, why not?

If you are reading this and there is a business venture, a relationship decision or a creative idea that you have always had but have been too scared to take action towards, I encourage you to take the first step. If you are dwelling on a decision and the only thing holding you back is failure or what other people may think of you, take a second and really think to yourself. Does it make you happy? If you were doing whatever it is you are currently wishing you could do, can you see yourself happy? If the answer is yes, then my question to you is, why would you hold yourself back from happiness?

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What is the Role Happiness Plays?

We all deserve to be happy. We all deserve to be able to follow our passions. If it makes you smile, if it changes your life for the better, then go for it. You really don’t have anything to lose. What’s the worse that could happen? You end up back where you started which is right at this very moment now. If that does end up being the case, you really didn’t lose anything did you? You actually got the chance to open yourself up to new experiences and I bet you would’ve learnt a lot along the way. So in hindsight, you still gained something.

I am still learning along the way and there is a great deal more that I have to learn. I am absolutely blessed that in the month I have been doing this, I have gained so much traction with my blogs. It is an absolute privilege that I have been published on Lifehack.org and it makes my heart sing to know that already in such a short time, there are people out there that appreciate my work.

A month ago, I didn’t even know how to build a website, let alone make a video. I didn’t even know that I could write. So fail or not, I have still gained. I have learnt so much already and am excited for all the things I will learn in the future. This journey has been so much fun and I really do enjoy it.

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I really do hope that if you’re not already, that you start your journey towards your passions. Life is short and we can’t take it for granted. Tomorrow is never promised. Do whatever it is that makes you smile. What’s life without those moments of happiness?

So the real question is, if it makes you happy, does it really matter what other people think?

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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

Reference

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