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The One Thing That Is More Important Than Social Needs: Self Actualization

The One Thing That Is More Important Than Social Needs: Self Actualization

Close your eyes, and imagine the best possible version of yourself. Are you similar to your current self, with a few minor improvements? Or are you a whole different person?

If you feel like you’ve got a long way to go, don’t worry. Self actualization, or the reaching of your full potential, can be tricky to achieve.

Self actualization is an essential human need

Reaching self actualization basically means becoming the best version of yourself. That could include regularly using your talents, developing your strengths and achieving your goals. Some psychologists consider self actualization to be an essential human need as significant as eating and drinking.

Self actualization is even more important than social needs

In 1943, a psychologist named Abraham Maslow created the hierarchy of universal human needs. [1] The needs are arranged in a pyramid, with basic requirements like food, water and shelter at the bottom, social needs like friendship and family in the middle, and self actualization needs at the top.

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In order to start reaching our full potential, we first need to fulfill our basic needs. In modern times, this is becoming easier and easier, meaning we have more time to dedicate to becoming the best possible versions of ourselves. [2] However, there’s no point in having that opportunity if we don’t bother to use it.

Dedicate some time to self actualization, and you might be amazed by how much happier and more fulfilled you feel.

Maslow’s work on self actualization was based partly on case studies of historical figures who he believed had reached self actualization. These figures included Albert Einstein and Henry David Thoreau.

Maslow believed that those who has achieved self actualization shared certain key traits:

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  • They accept themselves, their life, and their circumstances.
  • They embrace the unknown, rather than fearing it.
  • They focus on solving large problems, rather than small personal issues.
  • They are open-minded towards new ideas and the beliefs of others.
  • They have a strong feeling of personal freedom and autonomy.
  • They cultivate a small number of intimate relationships, rather than many superficial friendships.
  • They fully appreciate life and the world around them.
  • They have a strong feeling or purpose and are motivated by growth.

Sounds too good to be true? By changing your mindset and following a few simple steps, you can start your own journey to self actualization.

Interesting ways to achieve self actualization

Self actualization sounds a little vague, which makes it hard to work out exactly what we should be doing to achieve it. Try out the simple strategies below to start your journey to becoming your true self.

Describe your ideal day

Grab a sheet of paper, and write a description of your ideal day. Imagine there are no limits to your talents, abilities or finances. What do you spend your day doing?

Look at the activities you’ve included in your perfect day, and try to find ways to incorporate them into your current life. If you’re a CEO of a huge charity in your ideal life, why not set up a local fundraiser now? If you’re a famous musician, how about buying a cheap guitar and getting lessons? Each action you take brings you closer to your ideal reality.

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Write your perfect eulogy

This one can be really enlightening. Imagine you’ve died, and write the eulogy you’d like to see. It could include your major achievements, related to either career or personal life, your interests, your relationships, and the ways you’ve changed the world. Now consider what you need to do to make that eulogy a reality.

Examine your role models

Make a list of your top role models, including five or more. Now, write down a list of traits for each role model, and see which of them keep popping up. This is an excellent way to work out what your priorities are. If all of your role models are creative and driven, try to cultivate those attributes in yourself. If they’re generous and kind, make an effort to be more caring to the people in your own life.

Create a bucket list

Making a list of things to do before you die is a great way to get focused and realize what’s really important to you. Having a vague idea of things you’d like to do is good, but taking the time to actually write a list makes it much more likely that you’ll actually achieve your goals. Try to include items which you can complete now, as well as more long-term dreams.

Here are some example bucket list items to help you get inspired:

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  • Visit every continent
  • Learn to play piano
  • Build your own house
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Read 50 books in one year
  • Get a tattoo
  • Go skydiving

Use your imagination, and don’t be afraid to think big.

Achieving self actualization takes time and effort, but it’s so worth it. Who doesn’t want to become the best version of themselves?

Reference

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Eloise Best

Content 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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