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10 Life Lessons You Can Learn from Young World-Changers

10 Life Lessons You Can Learn from Young World-Changers

It is hard to change the world, some people might say. But for young minds like Joan of Arc, Anne Frank, St Thérèse of Lisieux making the world a better place to live in is actually possible. Age simply doesn’t matter if you want to create a huge impact on the environment and on other people’s lives. To prove this point, there is a long list of children who have successfully made a huge difference through their remarkable actions.

Be inspired and moved by these innocent and hopeful young ones who made an impressive and exceptional mark in their generations. Their accomplishments will surely change your outlook in life.

1. “Children should have pens in their hands not tools” – Iqbal Masih

Iqbal is a brave and eloquent Pakistani boy who made a big contribution and global impact on child slavery. Through his encouraging speeches, he brought awareness to uneducated slave laborers about their human rights and freedom.  At the age of 12, he became a prominent leader of a movement that fight against child labor in Pakistan.

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2. “Every child has the right to live and that is the right for life.” – Thandiwe Chama

Thandiwe is a young activist from Zambia who is known for her efforts in actively promoting the rights of children to be educated. She firmly believes that education is for everyone. All children have the right to be heard and should have access to educational opportunities. Apart from her advocacy that education is for all, she is also active in speaking to churches about AIDS.

3. “We are normal. We are human beings. We can walk, we can talk…. We have needs just like everyone else. We are all the same.”- Nkosi Johnson

Nkosi was a South African kid who was born with HIV-positive disease. His situation didn’t hinder him to become an inspiration and tell the world to fight against AIDS. In fact, he became a speaker in the International AIDS conference reminding people to be open and have an equal treatment to AIDS victims.

4. “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”- Malala Yousafzai

Malala is a Pakistani teenager who is very outspoken about girls basic rights to education. She’s known for being a women and children’s right activist. Despite of death threats from Taliban, she refused to be silenced. After surviving the assassination attempt, she became a spokesperson for human rights and education.

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5. “I want them to realize that they are never too young to make change.” – Dylan Mahalingam

Dylan is a young philanthropist and social activist who became famous when he found Lil’ MDGs when he was barely 9 years of age. It is a non-profit organization that aims to empower children and youth to work together towards the Millennium development goals. Dylan has been working with various children all around the world and resolving issue that includes hunger, poverty, education, gender equality, environmental sustainability, so on and so forth.

6. “You grown-ups say you love us, but I challenge you to make your actions reflect your words.” -Severn Suzuki

At the age of nine, Severn founded the ECO or the Environmental Children’s Organization, a group of children committed to learn and teach other kids about environmental issues. She’s been actively participating to variety of environmental projects and speaking to many schools, conference, and international meetings. When she was 12 years old she attended the Earth Summit and gave a speech  to the delegates. After that she became well-known as The Girl Who Silenced the World for 5 Minutes.

7. “AIDS can destroy a family if you let it, but luckily for my sister and me, Mom taught us to keep going. Don’t give up, be proud of who you are, and never feel sorry for yourself. ” – Ryan White

Ryan is an American teenage boy who had contracted with AIDS through blood transfusions when he was 13 years old. Aside from his struggle with his illness, Ryan has to faced enormous pressure and judgment from people around him. During the short course of his life, he helped in educating people about AIDS and it resulted for a good cause. The Government passed the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Care (CARE) Act, a program that provides health care resources to Americans with HIV/AIDS who have no sufficient health care and financial resources.

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8. “Hope is real, peace is possible, and life is worthy!” – Mattie Stepanek

Mattie is a boy poet and profound thinker who has a rare form of muscular dystrophy. In his brief lifespan, Mattie became an inspiration to many because of “Heartsongs”, his poetry collections, and his NY bestselling books that touched tons of people’s lives. He spent his remaining years on earth being an advocate for hope, peace, and people with disabilities.

9. “You can make a difference in the world, but only if you really try hard and really want to. Just pick a dream and then go for it. Oh, and never give up!” – Ryan Hreljac

Ryan was only 6 years old when he decided to help people in Africa to have clean water by building a well in a village. He began raising money for water and sanitation projects for people affected by global water crisis. Because of his perseverance and determination to help, he successfully built his first well in a primary school in Uganda. He didn’t stop there. Now, he continues to raise money to support water sources through his organization, Ryan’s Well Foundation.

10. “I think it is important to have something to strive for. By planting a garden or just some seeds in a pot you can make a difference.” – Katie Stagliano

Katie is a young gardener and an anti-hunger activist. When she was 9, she donated her 40 pound cabbage to a local soup kitchen and it helped feed more than 200 people. After that, her dream to help people fight against hunger was born. She started a vegetable garden and donate the harvest to the needy.

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These kids came from different backgrounds and they all became good role models to humanity. They know their rights and they have brave hearts to speak their minds out to fight for what they think is right. Their simple acts only reminds us that no one is never too young or old to make a difference.

Featured photo credit: Little Girl in Amusement Park BY VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com

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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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