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10 Reasons Why Your Cousins Are Your Best Friends

10 Reasons Why Your Cousins Are Your Best Friends

Growing up, I was good friends with pretty much all of my first cousins, as well as a handful of my second cousins. What makes a cousin a good friend? Well, to put it simply, they are like siblings who you only have to see on holidays and special events, which of course means that you’re never around them enough to get mad at them (we all know how contentious things can get with a brother or sister, no matter how much we love them)! Or to put it in even simpler terms, cousins are like your good friends from school or work, with the only difference being that you share the same blood. Which means that, no matter how different you and your cousin are, you always have something that ties you together. But beyond all of that, what are some of the concrete reasons as to why we grow close to our cousins in the first place? Read on!

1. They make family gatherings enjoyable.

As much as we all love eating our Grandmother’s cooking and deflecting questions from various Aunts and Uncles, what we really enjoy about seeing family is getting to catch up with our cousins. Whether it’s joking about a random subject you came up with, or playing some game on the side, your cousin is always there to help you pass the time.

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2. You have a long history with them.

This one is very important. Most of us don’t see our cousins on a consistent basis; a product of becoming an adult I suppose. That said, we always have something to talk about regardless of how long it has been since we last saw them. Indeed, I have memories with most of my cousins that date back to when I was 4 or 5 years old, and thus, when in doubt, we can always talk about those past adventures!

3. They don’t pry.

While your Aunt and Uncle might feel the need to ask you about your future, your current job, and your hypothetical girlfriend, your cousins know to stay away from topics that make you uncomfortable. That’s what is great about cousins. You know them well enough to be able to spend a lot of time with them, but not enough to feel obligated to pry into every aspect of their lives.

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4. They teach you about the opposite gender.

For the majority of the time that I was in school, all of my friends were guys, and so by having several female cousins I really got to see what the other side was all about. I like to think that this has made me a well-balanced individual!

5. There is no uncomfortable silence.

Ever been in a long road trip with an acquaintance? It is absolutely unbearable. When you’re with a cousin, you can either talk a lot or a little, and nobody will ask questions or get uncomfortable either way.

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6. You share the same inside jokes.

Yeah, so you thought you were the only one who joked about Uncle John’s funny laugh, or Grandma Jane’s “interesting” sense of style? Wrong! Your cousin likely already thought of the same things. The sooner you both come to that realization, the sooner you can start laughing at your shared observations.

7. They know about your embarrassing moments.

I can’t tell you how many times my cousins poke fun at me for some of my youthful foibles (hint: too many to count). That said, calling out each other’s ridiculous childhood moments only brings you closer together. No matter how serious and adult-like you and your cousins become, you can always bring each other back down to earth with a little lighthearted jab…

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8. They never abandon you.

While your friends might grow distant to the point that they stop hanging out with you, your cousins will never leave you behind. They’ll be with you for the long haul, always there to save you from awkward conversations and other miserable familial situations when you need them.

9. You can talk about the future with them.

You know that moment when you are at a family party and you and the other young people are at one table, and the older people are at another? Of course you do. During those moments, there’s always one cousin who turns to you, points at the other table, and says, “wow, that’s going to be us in twenty years!” It’s at that point that you realize how intertwined your futures are. To me at least, that’s a pretty cool thing to think about.

10. You don’t have to impress them.

When you’re with cousins, you get to be buddies with them without the added social pressure that comes with hanging out with non-family members. That means you can forgo the makeup, pause your kale-based diet, leave your face unshaven, and forget about having to do anything fancy with your hair. Let it all go! With your cousin, all that matters is your presence. And if that doesn’t signify true friendship, I don’t know what does! Are you best friends with your cousins? Share your stories in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: Laughter/ Becca Peterson via flickr.com

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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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