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Don’t Surrender To Any Definitions — You Can Decide Who You Are

Don’t Surrender To Any Definitions — You Can Decide Who You Are

It’s the ultimate cliché and something we all hear a thousand times over: to be truly happy, you need to start with yourself. But how often do we not live up to this? Media outlets are bombarding us with images of how we should look, society is telling us how we should act, and people with limited beliefs are telling us how we should feel.

A lot of the time, we are forced to define ourselves by other people’s ideas and perspectives. We seem to care too much about what other people think of us and live our lives pleasing or conforming to what society as a whole tells us is right.

Emma Watson may be best known as Hermione from the successful Harry Potter films, but she is much more than an actress — she is an activist and a true role model for women and men. She refuses to define herself through other people’s definitions and stands strong on the importance of making the person you are a reflection of who you truly want to be. She strives to be herself and continues to be an ambassador for equality, education, sense of self, and empowerment.

You Don’t Have To Follow The Crowd

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    How many times have you done or said something just because you felt it was what other people wanted from you? Our need to be accepted by others is a natural human instinct. It’s part of the pack mentality and an almost desperate want to not be rejected by our peers, family, and society as a whole.

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    As a hugely successful child actress, Emma Watson was catapulted into the world’s view. Many opportunities were laid out in front of her that would have earned her millions and gained her further recognition in a media-obsessed world. But she chose to go to university and focus on her education because she wanted to stay true to herself and she wanted to empower herself in a way that the movie industry solely wouldn’t allow her.

    While many child stars struggle to define their identity and lose themselves in the process, Emma took a different path; one that would defy traditional choices because she wanted to grow in the way she wanted to.

    Fight For What You Believe In

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      When Emma Watson made her inspirational UN speech for the HeForShe campaign back in 2014, she showed her true strength of character and her passion to make a difference in gender equality.

      We don’t always stand up and get ourselves heard and, even worse, we believe that we just can’t make a difference in this world. Whether this stems from our own lack of self-worth or the general societal view that if you can’t make a big difference then there’s no point, Emma Watson is a true inspiration that, given the opportunity, you can help change views and situations despite inner self-doubt.

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      “You might think, ‘Who is this Harry Potter girl? What is she doing at the U.N.?’ And it’s a really good question — I’ve been asking myself the same thing.

      “In my nervousness for this speech and my moments of doubt, I’ve told myself firmly, ‘If not me, who? If not now, when?'”

      Don’t Let Your Critics Define You

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        There are two types of critics: the people who criticise you for the things you do, say, or believe in, and the worst of all — yourself.

        While Emma Watson has campaigned for gender equality for both men and women, she has received negativity from people who’ve decided to define her feminism as “men-hating” despite the fact that she openly wants men to not feel pigeoned-holed by society’s masculine ideals.

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        As a result, she’s received hateful comments and threats of leaking nude pictures of her. But instead of backing down or succumbing to her critics, she used their anger as an example of exactly why she was calling for equality.

        She also believes in the importance of self-love. The bombardment of the perfect body and the perfect image that women feel they have to live up to in order to be noticed is detrimental to happiness and our ability to see ourselves as beautiful people, inside and out.

        “We [women] really damage our confidence when we put ourselves down, so I try not to.”

        Never let anyone criticise you for being who you want to be and doing what you want to do. Be yourself and stick with it. It’s the only way you can be truly happy.

        Live Your Life On Your Own Terms

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        Emma Watson Rocks

          Emma Watson has definitely stayed true to herself in terms of her private life. As many child stars are prone to partying, drinking, and baring their mental fragility unnecessarily, Emma hasn’t entered into the limelight in that regard, opting to keep her life as private as possible. Her decision to go to university, to date non-famous men, and to live her life as normally as possible has always been an admirable quality.

          In this media-hungry age, we are encouraged to post the ins and outs of our lives for all to see on social media and we’re made to feel we’re slightly outcasted if we don’t. This is ridiculous of course; we don’t need validation from others in order to feel fulfilled. Let people wonder about you, be interested in getting to know you, and keep your life within the circle of important people in your life.

          We are all on the search for happiness in our lives and Emma Watson has shown the sort of mindset and perspective we should all try to adopt in order to allow ourselves to define ourselves and no one else.

          Featured photo credit: College Times via collegetimes.com

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          Jenny Marchal

          Freelance Writer

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          Last Updated on April 11, 2019

          How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

          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.

          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.

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          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.

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          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!

          1. Listen

          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.

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          3. Minimize

          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.

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          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.

          Conclusion

          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

          Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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