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Uncover the Hidden Messages in the Actions You Take

Uncover the Hidden Messages in the Actions You Take

People have the ability to change with a new insight or idea, but what happens when you are telling yourself through your actions all of the wrong things?

Communication is always happening and most of what is communicated isn’t even in the words that we are telling ourselves or others. Likely you have heard the phrase “Only 7% of our communication is verbal. The other 93% happens to be non-verbal.”

There is a lot going on there that we might not know about!

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The Actions We Take

The most valuable communication you have is with yourself. Through the years many schools of thought have contributed in attempts to help people communicate better with themselves in order to be happier and to help others get more success in their lives. From affirmations and positive thinking to vision boards and meditations, all of these ideas have been presented to allow someone to communicate the right messages that will empower someone versus the wrong messages that will present limitations and inhibit a person.

With all this talk of what one can say to themselves what is lost most is the communication that can be most important to the lives that we are living. This communication is the actions that we take. 

Sometimes we can be our greatest obstacle in getting what we want or living the lives that we want to live. This is usually noticed in our thoughts about how we would like things to be different, but this thinking comes from our behaviors. What is never talked about is all the hidden messages that you are sending yourself through the actions that you take in your life. For further introspection, let’s look at the following examples:

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Talking to That Person You Like

A man sees an attractive woman that he would like to meet at the grocery store. He might have been working with affirmations or on his confidence before seeing this stunning sight of nature, but the moment he decides to take the action of not talking to her, he is telling himself that he is not good enough. It doesn’t have to be true or not, but your mind takes in this message regardless and this non-action. This action then overrides any sort of positive thinking or affirmations that were originally done so that he could be more confident.

Instead, if this man takes the action to approach this woman, he at least affirms to himself that he is good enough and that he goes after what he wants. It doesn’t have to go well and generally this message from the outside world is going to mean far less to him than the message that he gives to him internally. It is far more important for you to tell yourself that you are good enough than for someone else to.

Charging Others for Your Time in Business

Recently I was working with an entrepreneur who coaches CEOs and other business professionals to accomplish their business goals. This man was spending time in excess of two hours on free coaching calls with men who make far more than he does. In doing this action he was communicating many things to himself that were not helping himself or his own business development. Among the messages that he was sending himself in not charging a premium for his services was:

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  • “I’m not worth anything.”
  • “My time isn’t valuable.”
  • “People shouldn’t pay for my services.”

In looking at the messages that he did want to send to himself I told him that he needed to charge a premium for his services and that he needed to delegate his time efficiently. The way I saw it was that this entrepreneur had a lot to offer the world, but if he doesn’t affirm this to himself then he won’t be able to believe it in himself. When this happens, it is very hard for others to believe it in you as well.

Making Time for Yourself

A house wife can be a blessing and she really holds a house together, but if she doesn’t take time for herself, then she and the house can fall apart. For a woman who devotes all of her time to taking care of the kids, the bills, and the house, but no time for herself – this says a lot to her about what she thinks about herself and how she can care for herself. This message can also lead her to a troublesome place.

The messages that she sends to herself by putting herself last are ones of other people having more importance than herself. It is important to take care of others, but when this woman doesn’t take care of herself everything else can crumble down. This message of not being important can affect one’s self-esteem and can really create a situation where someone is unhappy with themselves. Instead, it is important to take time for yourself every day. It says that you value yourself and that you are important. If you think you are important, others are much more likely to as well.

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This hidden communication in the actions that we take is far-reaching and probably even more important than the verbal messages that we give to ourselves.

I recently had the opportunity to reach out to an ultra famous podcaster who I respect. In emailing him I knew that he would probably turn me down to be on the show, but I asked myself about the person who I wanted to be. In my answer to myself, I affirmed that I wanted to show up in a way where I believed in myself and where my actions were in agreement with my highest goals.

Despite my measly Twitter following compared to this man’s behemoth of supporters, I made the decision to reach out to him anyways to see if he would be interested in a collaboration. In a positive response, he affirmed to me that he was grateful for my action, but he politely declined. While my highest intent was to get on that show because it’s huge, this action was about more for me than just that. It wasn’t the outside validation that was of chief importance, but rather the internal affirmation of myself that meant the most to me. The message that I believed I was good enough was the most empowering.

Look at the messages you are telling yourself through your actions. Are they positive or are they negative? Each and every day through the actions that you take, are you affirming this person who you want to be or are you holding yourself back? I encourage you to really take a moment and decide who you want to be and then act as if you are becoming that person. Through your actions, you communicate even more to yourself about who you think you are and by acting differently you can change how you think about yourself.

Featured photo credit: avacadogirlfriend via flickr.com

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Shawn Schweier

Life Success Coach

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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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