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Learning These 10 Tricks Can Help You Overcome Frustration in Communication

Learning These 10 Tricks Can Help You Overcome Frustration in Communication

Have you ever found yourself reliving conversations and constantly repeating yourself? It may be while trying to convey a message to your children or significant other. You may be having trouble getting your boss or colleagues to see things from your perspective, or not getting through to a friend or loved one about an important issue. Do you often feel like you are simply talking into a vacuum or speaking a language nobody else understands? We’ve all been there and it can be very frustrating.

The best communicators treat communication as a dialogue instead of a monologue

The best communicators use various techniques that have one aspect in common, they simply don’t treat communication as a monologue, whereby they are the only ones participating.[1] Good communication skills rely on having a dialogue. It is a mutual exchange that involves both parties equally. Strong communication skills are also a combination of both verbal and non-verbal signals that work together to ensure ideas are being delivered and received efficiently.

Developing good communication skills takes practice and honesty. It relies on being open and transparent, emotionally mature and a willingness to be wrong and to learn.

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Here are 10 things to think about if you want to improve your communication skills:

Clear your assumptions and make every communication a new one

Ask yourself how well you know the person you are communicating with and how familiar they are with you. Sometimes, the people you know best are the ones you communicate the worst with because of the aforementioned illusion of insight. Put simply, you assume that you know each other well enough to understand each other easily, when this is not necessarily the case. Come at the communication from a place of newness every time. In your own mind, pretend the person is completely oblivious to your life experience and point of view, your character and your personality. Assuming you are both starting at the same place of unawareness and inexperience, will ensure you are both on equal footing and the communication will begin from a place of innovation and originality.

Give time and attention to important conversations

Effective communication takes time. Sometimes the message needs to be delivered on numerous occasions and you need to be willing and patient enough to harness the power of repetition. Depending on the importance of the communication, you may need to dedicate a set amount of time to committing to that conversation. For example, don’t talk to your boss about that pay rise as you pass them in the hallway or bump into them at the coffee shop. Schedule a meeting and make sure you have their full attention without distraction and time limits. On any occasion when you need to deliver a message of importance, give it the time and attention it deserves.

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A good eye contact can save you thousands of words

It’s amazing how much information and emotion we can convey simply by looking into someone’s eyes. Don’t be creepy and stare or forget to blink, but make sure you connect with the other person intimately and regularly during a conversation. This is particularly important when communicating with children, who extract so much reassurance and comfort from an intimate act such as eye contact. Making someone feel as though you hold them in high regard, or at least care enough about them to connect in this way, will clear a path for delivery of a message and is one of the communication skills that is most often over looked.

Mirror the body language of the person you speak to

It is useful to mirror the body language and stature of the person you are speaking to. Bring yourself down to the level of a child, so they don’t feel like they are being towered over. Similarly sit down or stand tall to equalize yourself with the adult you are speaking with. Angel your body towards the person you are communicating with if you are having an intimate conversation, or alternatively, give the other person space if the situation requires it. If you gesticulate with your hands, be aware of the effect this is having on the other person and be conscious of your reactions to what they are saying. Are you clenching your fists, gritting your teeth, fidgeting or flinching? You don’t necessarily have to change or correct any of your responses, but being aware of them is one of the communication skills that can work to your advantage.

Sometimes listening is more powerful than speaking

Sometimes the best form of communication is to say nothing at all and to merely listen. Validating what the other person is saying by giving them the space to say it is half the journey. It fulfills the notion that communication is a two way street and allows the other person to deliver their message with confidence. What you do with that information is also important. Truly hearing what the other person is saying, not just listening to the words and waiting for your turn to speak, will equip you with information that will only enhance your own message.

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Aim to express your thoughts to the best instead of being understood

Ask yourself what the point of the exchange actually is. Sometimes we have an end goal in mind and are bitterly disappointed when the result is different. It is ideal to have at least some idea of what you want to convey, but having limited expectations about how that message is received will take the pressure away from getting your way at all costs. This is difficult for most people. Everybody wants to be understood. However, sometimes simply aiming to articulate yourself and being satisfied that you have done that to the best of your ability is enough to give you the strength and confidence to do this effectively. Expecting the other person to see things exactly the way you do, will only set you up for disappointment and frustration is the destroyer of effective communication.

It’s not always about yourself, think about the needs and wants of others

This is closely tied to expectation. It is useful to have a purpose to your communication. What are you trying to achieve? Is it that you want to get something off your chest or do you think what you have to say will change things for the better for both parties? If your intentions are purely selfish, this will come across immediately. Do take responsibility for your feelings by using “I” statements, but don’t let it be all about yourself. Considering the needs and wants of the other party will ensure a mutually beneficial exchange and is more likely to ensure that your message is received well.

Always be true to your emotions, including the negative ones

Connecting with another person on an emotional level is important and it doesn’t always have to be comfortable or feel good. Sometimes, difficult conversations need to delve into negative emotions for them to be successful.[2] Authenticity is messy and humans experience a wide range of emotions on their journey towards truth. We need to become familiar with the ugly side of being human, including acknowledging anger, fear, sadness, envy, disappointment and shame. Getting in touch with these feelings and allowing ourselves to articulate them will also help us to recognize them in others and will ensure well rounded communication. It is not always going to be pleasant, but pretending that it should be omits a whole range of communication skills that allow messages to be delivered accurately and completely.

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Communication doesn’t end when you stop speaking

Communication shouldn’t end when everyone stops talking. We should develop the resilience and the emotional maturity to be able to go away and critically assess what has taken place. Self-reflection and personal examination of the conversations we have, particularly the significant ones will not only expand our understanding, but help us to eloquently express ourselves in the future. We learn from our exchanges. Not only from our own actions that can help us think about how to do things better next time, but also from the behavior and communication skills of others. When the words of someone stick with you and resurface in your mind after the event, consider how that person delivered the message to you and why it worked and emulate them.

Learn from every valuable interaction

Finally, the key to effective communication is a level of surrender, whereby once the exchange has taken place, you should be able to be satisfied that both parties have done their best to convey their message and the interaction is now over. All exchanges are valuable and the aim should be to extract the benefits and learn from the failures. This will ensure progress and the constant improvement of your communication skills.

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Diane Koopman

Writer, Author, Novelist, Self-Publisher

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

There’s no denying that goals are necessary. After all, they give life meaning and purpose. However, goals don’t simply achieve themselves—you need to write an action plan to help you reach your goals.

With an action plan, you’ll have a clear idea of how to get where you want to go, what it will take to get there, and how you’ll find the motivation to keep driving forward. Without creating a plan, things have a way of not working out as you waver and get distracted.

With that in mind, here’s how you can set goals and action plans that will help you achieve any personal goal you’ve set.

1. Determine Your “Why”

Here’s a quick experiment for you to try right now: Reflect on the goals you’ve set before. Now, think about the goals you reached and those you didn’t. Hopefully, you’ll notice a common theme here.

The goals you were successful in achieving had a purpose. Those goals you failed to accomplish did not. In other words, you knew why you put these goals in place, which motivated you to follow through.

Simon Sinek, author of Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Finding Purpose for You and Your Team, explains:

“Once you understand your WHY, you’ll be able to clearly articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and to better understand what drives your behavior when you’re at your natural best. When you can do that, you’ll have a point of reference for everything you do going forward.”

That, in turn, enables better decision-making and clearer choices.

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I’ll share with you a recent example of this in my life. Earlier this year, I decided to make my health a bigger priority, specifically losing weight. I set this goal because it gave me more energy at work, improved my sleep, and helped me be a better father—I really didn’t care for all that wheezing every time I played with my kids.

Those factors all gave me a long-term purpose, not a superficial short-term goal like wanting to look good for an event.

Before you start creating an action plan, think about why you’re setting a new goal. Doing so will guide you forward on this journey and give you a North Star to point to when things get hard (and they inevitably will).

2. Write Down Your Goal

If you really want to know how to create an action plan for goals, it’s time to get your goals out of your head and onto a piece of paper. While you can also do this electronically through an app, research has found that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goal if it’s written down[1].

This is especially true for business owners. If they don’t schedule their time, it’ll be scheduled for them.[2]

When you physically write down a goal, you’re accessing the left side of the brain, which is the literal, logical side. As a result, this communicates to your brain that this is something you seriously want to do.

3. Set a SMART Goal

A SMART goal pulls on a popular system in business management[3]. That’s because it ensures the goal you’ve set is both realistic and achievable. It can also be used as a reference to guide you through your action plan.

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Use SMART goals to create a goal action plan.

     

    By establishing a SMART goal, you can begin to brainstorm the steps, tasks, and tools you’ll need to make your actions effective.

    • Specific: You need to have specific ideas about what you want to accomplish. To get started, answer the “W” questions: who, what, where, when, and why.
    • Measurable: To make sure you’re meeting the goal, establish tangible metrics to measure your progress. Identify how you’ll collect the data.
    • Attainable: Think about the tools or skills needed to reach your goal. If you don’t possess them, figure out how you can attain them.
    • Relevant: Why does the goal matter to you? Does it align with other goals? These types of questions can help you determine the goal’s true objective — and whether it’s worth pursuing.
    • Time-bound: Whether it’s a daily, weekly, or monthly target, deadlines can motivate us to take action sooner than later.

    Learn more about setting a SMRT goal here: How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life

    4. Take One Step at a Time

    Have you ever taken a road trip? You most likely had to use a map to navigate from Point A to Point B. The same idea can be applied to an action plan.

    Like a map, your action plan needs to include step-by-step instructions on how you’ll reach your goal. In other words, these are mini goals that help you get where you need to go.

    For example, if you wanted to lose weight, you’d consider smaller factors like calories consumed and burned, minutes exercised, number of steps walked, and quality of sleep. Each plays a role in weight loss.

    This may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it makes your action plan seem less overwhelming and more manageable. Most importantly, it helps you determine the specific actions you need to take at each stage.

    5. Order Your Tasks by Priority

    With your action steps figured out, you’ll next want to review your list and place your tasks in the order that makes the most sense. This way, you’re kicking things off with the most important step to make the biggest impact, which will ultimately save time.

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    For example, if you have a sedentary job and want to lose weight, the first step should be becoming even a little more active. From there, you can add more time to your workout plan.

    The next step could be changing your diet, like having a salad before dinner to avoid overeating, or replacing soda with sparkling water.

    Learn these tips to prioritize better: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    6. Schedule Your Tasks

    Setting a deadline for your goal is a must; it prevents you from delaying the start of your action plan. The key, however, is to be realistic. It’s highly unlikely, for example, that you’ll lose 20 pounds within two weeks. It’s even less likely that you’ll keep it off.

    What’s more, you should also assign tasks a start and end date for each action step you’ve created, as well as a timeline for when you’ll complete specific tasks. Adding them to your schedule ensures that you stay focused on these tasks when they need to happen, not letting anything else distract you.

    For example, if you schedule gym time, you won’t plan anything else during that time frame.

    Beware the temptation to double-book yourself—some activities truly can be combined, like a run while talking to a friend, but some can’t. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can both write and catch up on Netflix simultaneously.

    While you can use a paper calendar or planner, an online calendar may be a better option. You can use it to set deadlines or reminders for when each step needs to be taken, and it can be shared with other people who need to be in the know (like your running buddy or your mentor).

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    7. Stay on Track With Healthy Habits

    Without healthy habits, it’s going to be even more challenging to reach your goal. You could hit the gym five days a week, but if you’re grabbing burgers for lunch every day, you’re undoing all your hard work.

    Let’s say your goal is more career-oriented, like becoming a better public speaker. If you practice your speeches at Toastmasters meetings but avoid situations where you’ll need to be unrehearsed—like networking gatherings or community meetings—you’re not helping yourself.

    You have to think about what will help transform you into the person you want to be, not just what’s easiest or most comfortable.

    8. Check off Items as You Go

    You may think you’ve spent a lot of time creating lists. Not only do they help make your goals a reality, but lists also keep your action plan organized, create urgency, and help track your progress. Because lists provide structure, they reduce anxiety.

    There’s something else special about lists of tasks completed. When you cross off a task in your action plan, your brain releases dopamine[4]. This reward makes you feel good, and you’ll want to repeat this feeling.

    If you crossed out on your calendar the days you went to the gym, you’d want to keep experiencing the satisfaction of each bold “X.” That means more motivation to go the gym consistently.

    9. Review and Reset as Necessary

    Achieving any personal goal is a process. Although it would be great if you could reach a goal overnight, it takes time. Along the way, you may experience setbacks. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, schedule frequent reviews—daily, weekly, or monthly—to see how you’re progressing.

    If you aren’t where you’d hoped to be, you may need to alter your action plan. Rework it so you’re able to reach the goal you’ve set.

    The Bottom Line

    When you want to learn how to set goals and action plans—whether you want to lose weight, learn a new skill, or make more money—you need to create a realistic plan to get you there. It will guide you in establishing realistic steps and time frames to achieve your goal. Best of all, it will keep you on track when you stumble, and we all do.

    More on Goal Action Plans

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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