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How To Keep Your Mind Uncontaminated In A Negative World

How To Keep Your Mind Uncontaminated In A Negative World

It’s easy to take one look at the news (or the comments section on a YouTube video) and instantly lose hope for humanity.

We’re constantly hearing stories about terrorist attacks, murderers, and plain old dishonest individuals who seem hell-bent on tearing down any sort of progress being made across the world.

It’s difficult to know how to stay positive when it seems like we have so much to be feel down about.

It’s difficult – but it’s not impossible.

It’s up to you to improve your outlook on life, and on the world in general. In doing so, you’ll put yourself in a better position to make the world a better place.

Accept the Inevitable

You’re probably familiar with the Serenity Prayer, but how often do you actually live by it?

It takes energy to not get frustrated by the negative we see in the world. It can leave you exhausted if you pay too much attention to it.

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But, as the verses in the link above say, there are some things you can’t change. So why waste time and energy worrying about them?

There will always be evil, stubbornness, and stupidity in the world. Believing these things can be completely eradicated is foolish.

Instead of losing precious moments of your life worrying about the things that you have no power over, accept that you’re powerless – and move on.

You have much better things to do with your time.

Shift Your Focus

If you’ve ever uttered the phrase “There’s so much evil in this world,” you’re right.

But you’d also be right if you said “There’s so much good in this world.”

Both exist. It’s just much harder to see the good because the media, along with your Facebook feed, is constantly discussing the evil. Tragic headlines sell. You wouldn’t click a link that said “Absolutely nothing bad happened today!”, would you? (Although, now that I think about it, such a headline would be so incredible that it would be hard to resist…)

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Do yourself a favor: Every time you hear about some tragic event unfolding, go to the Good News Network and spend at least ten minutes reading the stories posted there.

The truth is, there are many more good things happening around us than bad. You just need to shift your focus and actively look for them.

Engage In Wholesome Hobbies

When you’re constantly hearing about all the awful things going on in the world, you might be tempted to grab a drink or reach to a similar vice to calm your nerves.

But deep down you know this will only make you feel better temporarily. Substance abuse is a cyclical problem: You feel like crap, so you take another drink, then you wake up, feel like crap, and grab another one. Meanwhile, the problems that got you to drink in the first place never actually went away.

Be productive with your time. Occupy your mind and body with hobbies that will improve your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Go for a bike ride. Learn a new song on guitar. Read a new book. Just like when using drugs or alcohol, you’ll take your mind off of what’s bothering you about the world – but you’ll be doing so in a much healthier way.

Surround Yourself With Positive People

Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

While his sentiment had to do with success and ability, it also pertains to emotional outlook as well.

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If you’ve surrounded yourself with people who are constantly complaining about every little thing, it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing the same.

On the other hand, if you surround yourself with people who are always looking on the bright side of things, you’d be the odd man out if you maintained a negative outlook on life.

Surround yourself with people who will build you up and keep you focused on doing the best you can every day of your life.

Practice Gratefulness

Along with changing your focus on worldly events, do so in your personal life, as well.

Everyone has something to complain about.

But, no matter how bad you think you have it, you have lots to be thankful for, too.

Heck, you’re probably reading this on a WiFi-enabled laptop while you sip coffee from a Starbucks cup. Do you know how many people will never get to experience that level of comfort?

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Once you’ve changed your focus to see all the good things in this world, go one step further: Be thankful for these things. Don’t take them for granted.

You’ll start to realize just how much there is in your life that you have to be grateful for.

Once You Understand How To Stay Positive, Be The Change

Okay, I know I said there are some things you need to accept because they’re much too great of a problem for one person to take on. But there are ways you can do your part to make the world a better place.

Be more giving of yourself. Forgive others for minor transgressions. Don’t take life so seriously.

One small act of kindness can start a chain reaction that, in some small way, will change the world for the better.

More by this author

Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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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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