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4 Small Towns That Should Be Visited Every Christmas

4 Small Towns That Should Be Visited Every Christmas

Christmas is a perfect ending to a year filled with fun and adventures. For many, Christmas is the time to be with loved ones, family, and friends.

Some say it’s also the perfect time to take a vacation with your loved ones. While most assume that summer is the perfect time for a beautiful vacation, some may not have the time or the opportunity, or they may have overlooked the beautiful season of winter.

This amazing season deserves both celebration and praise especially since it is a part of one of the most commonly celebrated festivities all around the world. So to make your Christmas special; here a few small towns you can visit and have a memorable year end celebration.


    1. North Pole, Alaska

    By the name of the place, you can be certain that it’s definitely going to be a Christmas wonderland. With a whole year of Christmas decorations provided by nature and celebrated by locals, it’s definitely the place to be during a winter season.

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    Take your family members to visit Santa in the exclusive Santa’s factory, or take in the various igloos surrounding the cold region. However, the trademark of Alaska surpasses beyond Santa and igloos. It’s the home to the world’s most spectacular event by nature, the Aurora Borealis.

    Witnessing the Northern Lights in its fine colors could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Therefore, taking your family there during this festive season could be the best gift you can give, taking them away from materialistic possessions and placing true value on family connections and love.

      2. Fusen, Germany

      Fusen is located in the Bavarian part of Germany. Although a huge united land, Germany varies in culture and tradition according to their regions; sometimes even their dialects of German vary, making it rather distinctive. Fusen is often a small town that many fail to notice while traveling through Germany.

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      However, they’re still considered a magical place for Christmas celebrations. This town has been standing strong for about 700 years, and is located at the borders of Austria, at the foot of the Austrian Alps. It has beautiful, scenic nature, as well as historic and untouched monuments proved to be Bavaria’s greatest treasure.

      Their Christmas market, which encompasses both Austrian and German traditions, is definitely a feast for the eyes. So taking your loved ones there to celebrate Christmas could be an opportunity for you to indulge in history, and experience the perfect Christmas in Europe.

      Plus, if you happen to be there, don’t forget to check out the lake formations at the edge of the Alps, as it inspired one of the greatest productions in the artistic world, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. I guarantee it’s a place you would want to visit over and over again.

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        3. Osmington, Dorset, UK

        Osmington in Dorset, United Kingdom, is a small parish town. Unlike other towns, Osmington offers an authentic experience of being in the middle ages. Being a small town with tons of history and stories, it definitely is a town you would want to spend your time in.

        Since social media plays a part in the way we travel, and we tend to follow the best trends and Instagram tags, heading to Osmington would be a way to put yourself in an unique spot light .

        The Osmington White Horse is a carving of King George III riding a horse, made in 1800. This symbolizes the vast knowledge and influence the British monarchy has had in this tiny town. If you and your family are looking for a traditional way to enjoy Christmas, Osmington would be a perfect place to stay, away from all the exterior influences of technology. Immerse yourself in nothing but calm and adventure.

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          4. Kyoto, Japan

          Japan is a land filled with culture and worldly influence. From the outside world, Japanese culture seems as delicate and pristine as the Sakura flowers. Kyoto is one of the best places to enjoy winter in Japan, and offers more than an experience –  it offers a lifestyle.

          From the Onsen Hot Spa, enjoy soaking away in the warm natural waters, releasing all your stress and worries. Most Japanese people prefer “Sentos,” which is a public bath space where you would be able to mingle with the locals. The Public Baths are usually separated for men and women, so you needn’t worry of offending anyone by walking into a unisex bathhouse.

          While their bathing culture is something unique, Japan also has one of the most exquisite food cultures; “Nabo,” or in our terms, “hot pot,” is one of the famous dishes during this winter season. A pot of “Nabo” can keep you warm throughout the day; it’s usually enjoyed in a group of people with friends and family. So avoid all the junk food and unhealthy snacks and binge on this instead.

          Finally, Kyoto is a holy ground for many Japanese people. With a bridge that is claimed to be a direct route to heaven, and various temples that showcase Japan’s beauty and simplicity, you’ll find yourself captivated in a daze of being in a wonderland. So take your time to explore, eat, and breathe Japanese if you find yourself in Kyoto.

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          Christmas is an amazing festival to be celebrated with friends and family; so next year, take the opportunity to do something unique and beautiful to make it one of your most memorable celebrations.

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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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