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How Traveling Can Drastically Improve Your Interpersonal Skills

How Traveling Can Drastically Improve Your Interpersonal Skills

Inherently, the seasoned traveler doubles as a social butterfly. They can strike up a conversation on a whim and somehow manage to find common ground with individuals from all walks of life.

Traveling on its own can be incredibly eye opening and enriching, but it will also equip us with skills that are necessary to be successful. Communication and interpersonal skills are attributes that can be learned and honed. These skills are applicable in everyday life and can be translated into professional environments.

We are inherently closed off

For my first lone traveling experience, I had just arrived to San Francisco for an externship. There was an issue with our train and we had to switch to a new train at the next platform. A gentleman who had been making polite conversation decided that it was now his mission to help me move my stuff to the next train.

Although well intentioned, I was appalled. I was not accustomed to the kindness of strangers, in fact I thought that he was trying to rob me or worse. Kindness is somewhat regional. And growing up in the tristate area, I had been conditioned to be extremely skeptical. Interaction with strangers seemed incredibly taboo.

It’s shameful to admit, but social skills have fallen by the wayside. We’ve forgotten how to speak to one another. The idea of striking up a conversation with a stranger is borderline terrifying. But more terrifying still, the lack of effective communication will ultimately lead to a lonely life.

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Keeping the passion alive

A very wise man once said that before fully committing to someone, take them on a trip. This wise man is Bill Murray- and he speaks the truth. Traveling can be a very vulnerable time for many, often times it can bring out the worst in people.

But if you are able to overcome the inevitable hurdles that will arise during your trip, traveling has been proven to strengthen relationships.[1] It gives yourself and your partner an opportunity to share in a common goal.

Just being in a different environment[2], free of all of your day to day obligations that tend to get in the way will help to reignite romance and intimacy. It will give you both the chance to revisit some issues that would normally initiate an argument- in a safe, romantic setting.

Couples who regularly travel together have reported having more effective communication with one another than those who don’t. [3]

You will never see the world the same

The greatest epiphany one can experience as they submerge themselves into the travel lifestyle is the realization that not everyone thinks the way that you do. Not everyone lives the same way that you do. Different cultures harbor different philosophies and priorities.

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Breathe, relax, enjoy

Growing up in a place where results are expected instantaneously, I didn’t take well to the idea of waiting. I mean, what’s the hold up? I placed my order and I want it now. Clearly impatience was smeared all over my face. The server who took my order asked me ever so innocently, “Why do you look upset? You have a few extra moments to just enjoy life before you receive your food.” He was so right. Why was I getting upset? I didn’t have anywhere to be. So I took his advice. I drew in a deep breath, taking in all of the beauty that surrounded me.

Patience is a virtue. And when you’re traveling, you have no choice but to be patient.

Learn to roll with the punches

Not everything works out as planned, things are bound to go wrong. When you are traveling, you are exceptionally vulnerable to these mishaps, with very little security if things happen to not go your way. This can be incredibly unnerving the first few times around. This can even deter some from deciding to continue. But if you can hack it and take the hits as they come, you will ultimately develop the patience of the Saint. Bad things are going to happen; let them. You’ll find another way.

When things don’t work out, not only do you have to be patient, but adaptable as well[4]. You must be able to recollect and strategize, or at least accept the situation at hand and roll with it.

It’s not the situation- it’s your reaction

In a landslide of positive effects, your increase in patience and adaptability will in turn make you a kinder, less skeptical person. Because at this point, you get it. We’re all human, doing our best to get by. So just stay cool.

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Conflicts are going to arise, and how you choose to handle them will determine the outcome.

Alternate forms of communication

Everything that is new and unfamiliar can seem terrifying. Especially when you are traveling abroad, specifically if you are traveling alone.

If you’re anything like me, you relish in the somewhat abrasive blow of culture shock. Everything is so foreign, so unbelievably different.

This can make communication difficult. I literally don’t speak their language. Chances are, I’m not going to become fluent overnight or anywhere in the near future. But I can still ease my struggle by learning a few key phrases in the language of where I am visiting in order to get by in daily life.

More likely than not, I will butcher the pronunciation. The average person will get the gist of what I am trying to say and appreciate the effort-regardless of the poor execution.

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Non-verbal communication will become your saving grace. You will develop the ability to convey your meaning without words. Without realizing, you may start to mirror the behavior of those around you to establish a foundation of common ground.

Just in this short time, you are evolving. You’ve picked up new mannerisms that will channel into your existing personality and habits.

This experience literally becomes a part of you, altering how you think and how you behave.

Featured photo credit: VideoHive via videohive.net

Reference

More by this author

Jenn Beach

Traveling vagabond, writer, & plant-based food enthusiast.

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

1. Always Have a Book

It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

3. Get More Intellectual Friends

Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

4. Guided Thinking

Albert Einstein once said,

“Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

5. Put it Into Practice

Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

6. Teach Others

You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

7. Clean Your Input

Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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8. Learn in Groups

Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

9. Unlearn Assumptions

You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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11. Start a Project

Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

12. Follow Your Intuition

Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

13. The Morning Fifteen

Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

14. Reap the Rewards

Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

15. Make Learning a Priority

Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

More About Continuous Learning

Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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