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5 Signs You Blame Other People For Your Problems

5 Signs You Blame Other People For Your Problems

We learn as children that becoming an adult entails maturity, responsibility, and problem solving. We assume that when we finally reach adulthood, we will naturally encompass all of these traits. Yet, the ability to remain accountable in life proves elusive to many adults, though we may not be aware of this fact.

Generally, there are two types of people in this world: those that blame others for how they feel and the predicament they are in, and those that take accountability for their situation and focus on problem solving. Of course we know which group we think we are in, but what group are we really in? Here are five signs that you blame other people for your problems.

1. You complain about the same problem.

Life is full of challenges, but when they are met with a healthy mindset and action, the nature of these problems improves until they are solved. When we complain over and over again, we get stuck in the details of our story. We skew our perspective with exaggerated details of how we are innocent and why someone or something else is to blame. We lose sight of the big picture as we start to believe we have no power or control.

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The truth is, we do have power and we can exercise it with free will and choice. We always have a choice, even if it’s choosing another thought, we can get the ball rolling in a positive direction.

2. Resentment is your default mode.

This emotion signals lingering issues that are not being addressed. Resentment is a strong bitterness we feel when someone does something wrong to us or we feel we have been treated unfairly. It is a natural emotion, especially to an injustice. However, when we consistently feel this, it’s a sign we are in “victim” mode. Every emotion, including resentment, provides a message. It’s up to us to change either our perception of the problem or our actions toward it. If resentment is our go-to emotion, then we have cast the focus onto others and their actions instead of spotlighting ourselves and our ability to change the situation.

3. You say “you made me feel this way.”

No one can make us feel upset or angry. The only person that can make us feel a certain way is, well, us.

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We choose to feel a particular way based on how we’re interpreting the situation and the meaning we associate to it. If we don’t want to get upset or angry, we must become accountable for our own feelings and learn how to choose our reactions instead of allowing them to choose us.

It’s natural to be affected by other people. It’s also healthy to consider their feedback and opinions — as long as it doesn’t dictate our own thoughts and feelings. We always have a choice. When we realize this, we understand that other people can’t make us feel any way, even if they try their hardest. We decide what to feel and what not to feel.

4. You are in a codependent relationship.

A codependent relationship is a type of dysfunctional relationship where one person enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement. A person will refuse to look at their own problems because they are too wrapped up in what the other is doing. These are very destructive relationships that keep both people stuck in a rut.

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Typically, when one person begins to focus on healing their own issues, it causes the other person to feel threatened and they consequently will not support the growth. However, we can change the dynamic of any relationship we are in if we know it is in a negative place. Though the other person may lash out against our efforts, we can remain clear on what are our issues versus theirs. This may inspire them to make similar changes for themselves.

5. You notice recurring themes in your life.

When we get into the same type of relationships, work at the same type of jobs, and repeat the same mistakes over again, it’s a sign that we are not taking ownership of our issues. Within these patterns, the faces may be different, the details not quite the same, but there is always a common denominator — us.

Recurring themes in our lives serve as a message that we are missing something, or that we are choosing to ignore it. Whatever the case may be, we can use these patterns as information that can help us break out of limiting beliefs and underlying motivations that keep us stuck.

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“When We Know Better, We Do Better.” — Maya Angelou

We all have problems in life — that’s what makes us human. We can’t fully appreciate the good times without experiencing the bad. We can successfully navigate these problems when we remember they are not caused by other people. Ultimately, we are the only ones who can be held accountable. Only when we realize this do we have the power to change the situation. When we view our problems as a call to action, we feel empowered to take the necessary steps towards finding a solution. If we discover we are in fact blaming others, we can choose to turn it around at any point. It’s that simple!

Featured photo credit: Benny Seidelman via flickr.com

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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!

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Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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