“You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back.” — Barbara de Angelis
There is a deeper level of love that only some know about.Advertising
We all know the feelings of love, lust, desire, flirtation. We all know what how it feels to want another human being. But do we ponder enough what it means to be in a relationship? To enter a formation of two people together, learning and growing with each other? No bond between two people is like any other. This makes all relationships incredibly unique and powerful. But are we looking at our relationships with true love.
Life coach Garrison Cohen speaks about a theory for relationships using pitted fruit as a metaphor. He refers to the phrase “It’s the pits,” meaning that something is worthless and holds no meaning when talking about the stone inside the delicious exterior. As humans, and as is the same in nature, we are all one — we are drawn in and excited by the sweet, juicy flesh of the fruit, the outer layer. It is delicious and satisfying and we devour it. Yet, when we reach the pit inside, we throw it away. We deem it useless and toss it to the ground. What we do not appreciate is that it actually can be potted back into the earth and will again grow life. It is the source of life, and yet we treat it as if it is useless because it does not give us instant gratification. We do not wait to see what life grows from it.Advertising
Imagine your relationship is like this fruit. We enter the honeymoon phase and devour the sweetness of each other, we satisfy our cravings by enjoying each other’s wonderful exterior — the fresh sweetness we are initially drawn to. But then, perhaps, things don’t go so sweetly. Perhaps the two of you reach a point in a discussion where you don’t agree. Things may not run so smoothly as both of you are afraid of what is happening. Maybe one of you or even both of you run away from the rising tension rather than confronting it. There are valid reasons why people leave relationships, but how often are we culprits of leaving too soon? How often do we leave because we are afraid of the pit, and not because of any other reason?
When we have devoured all the ripe fruit, we find the seed and sometimes we decide to go no further. We do not always take the time with each other to see what else will grow when we nurture the inside of us — the parts of us that are perhaps not so juicy and sweet.Advertising
The pit represents the breakdowns, the flaws as such, that are a real and inevitable part of every human being. The pit is as much a part of the fruit as anything else, and its role is just as important. And if we give time to the breakdowns, to the pits, if we accept them for what they are and embrace them with honesty, we give ourselves the potential to grow. We can look at the darker sides of ourselves, the selfish parts, the scared parts. We all have them. No soul is perfect, and we are all doing the best we can with what we have. But if we look at ourselves as a whole, we might find that we can dig a little deeper, with richer rewards. We can give each other the potential to further our relationship, to understand that we can evolve with nurture and care. We can always find something beautiful in the breakdowns.
This is not to say to sit “down in the dumps,” but it is wise not to resist being “in the pits.” We can appreciate the hard times and just sit with them, knowing it is reality, that it is part of life and part of you. We cannot avoid breakdowns and hardships — they are how we appreciate the good things in life, they are a part of the balance. We could not have summer without winter first. And we cannot have the fruit without the seed.Advertising
In relationships, we have the potential to go on an incredible journey and adventure with another person. If we don’t run away when things get tough, we allow ourselves to learn, to love, and to grow. In this respect we enjoy a far richer life than those who skim the surface, who only eat the good parts and throw away the rest. So consider the pit next time you enjoy your favourite (pitted) fruit. Take a moment to consider the life inside it, and toss it somewhere you know it will grow into beauty.
Featured photo credit: Puuung via facebook.com
Last Updated on April 11, 2019
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.
Table of Contents
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
- Conflict Management Styles for Effective Communication at Work
- How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home
- How to Work with Different Communication Styles in the Office
- 13 Best Communication Books for Stronger Social Skills & Relationships
Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com