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10 Signs Your Traveling Experiences Have Made You a Better Person

10 Signs Your Traveling Experiences Have Made You a Better Person

You’ve returned from travel and are settling into your usual routine. It’s your familiar routine all right, but you’re suddenly observing things you never noticed before. It’s like seeing with new eyes. Travel experiences change you, sometimes in big ways but often, in subtle steps that will surprise you. That’s a good sign. Welcome these changes in outlook and attitude as you unveil a noticeably improved you!

10. You take photos to keep memories and share with people close to you; not to show off.

Travel is exciting, especially when it’s your first time. That’s usually when you go overboard with minute-by-minute image announcements to exhibit on social media. As you gain traveling experiences, your photos turn into meaningful slices of your personal life shared with people who know you well. You’ll intuitively select the shots you take or choose to be part of, and you won’t feel compelled to share them with everyone out there. You know it’s not a contest of been-there, done-that.

9. You keep a sense of curiosity and wonder.

The excitement settles down somewhat for frequent travelers. Unfortunately, some turn blase or even jaded. You can join the others who hold on to curiosity and wonder and who keep seeing new things. You’ll regularly go “Oh. Wow!” (jaw drop then huge smile). You’ll have an eye for observing little details—in a magnificent architecture, a famous painting, a spectacular view, the slope of a ski lift, even the crank of a zip line. Your traveling experiences bring new discoveries that fuel your curiosity for life.

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8. You easily strike a conversation, not just during your traveling experiences.

Travel brings out parts of your personality that are not apparent in your “normal habitat.” Maybe it’s because you’re more relaxed on holidays or you’re free from real or perceived social norms. You find yourself enthusiastically sharing childhood stories with strangers. You feel a kinship with the tour group you spent three days with. You make lasting connections. Your relaxed social manner spills over on your return home where your renewed interest in people allows you to easily make friends.

7. You respect culture and history.

At first, reading up on your destination may only be about required malaria shots or acceptable tipping amounts. Soon, you’ll enjoy researching cuisine, sites that are off the beaten track, local customs, and little known facts. You become mindful of and respect other people’s way-of-life. Gone are the days when you unconsciously blurt out jokes or risk gestures that could offend the locals. You gain deeper historical perspectives. You learn to appreciate your own country’s culture and understand how interconnected nations are. Traveling experiences bring out the diplomat in you.

6. You are open; there’s little room for prejudice.

People who expose themselves to various cultures embrace the differences among peoples and countries. I’ve met travelers, mostly Europeans, who avoid mixing with their compatriots not because of dislike but because they purposely want to learn about other nationalities. The more traveling experiences you add up, the more comfortable you become mingling across cultures, and the less likely you’ll tolerate ethnic jokes or negative remarks about race, religion, or gender. You’re a citizen of the world.

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5. You have a reverence for nature and the environment.

When you’ve visited a nature reserve, a natural heritage site, or any pristine piece of land or ocean, you become committed to protecting all sites. It’s no coincidence that divers, surfers, and mountain climbers are among the most environmentally concerned group on the planet. That’s because they’ve experienced the wondrous beauty of nature but have also seen the damage inflicted by humans. They regularly organize clean ups of the beaches, ocean floors, and mountain sides. Your traveling experiences change you to live the words “Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints” … always.

4. You become deeply grateful.

A couple of peak moments in my life happened during travels: on an autumn walk through the German Black Forest and while gazing at a blue summer sky from Beijing’s Great Wall. To this day, the immense feeling of gratitude from the privilege of bearing witness to natural beauty and human achievement remains intense. I remember my eyes misting up and my lips releasing a sigh of gratitude for being alive in that moment. Walking through natural sites, scaling man-made wonders, and observing animals in their natural habitat make you grateful for their presence on the planet. You learn to truly appreciate life in general.

3. You don’t sweat the small stuff.

“I wonder how I ever in my life was self-destructive because I thought my life was bad. … I really had no idea what suffering or pain is.”

—Angelina Jolie, shortly after her life-changing experience in war-torn Cambodia while filming Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

Travel reveals how people in other places live, sometimes with few resources, limited freedoms, or everyday risks. Like Angelina Jolie, you realize that in the bigger scheme of things, your reasons for feeling discontented with life are often petty, You value life more and vow to never again let unimportant things get to you.

2. You stop being an indifferent bystander.

Your take-away from travel can be powerfully profound. It spontaneously moves you to act like the divers, surfers and mountain climbers who clean up their beloved oceans and mountains. It shows up in your choices as a consumer. You stop patronizing companies with poor environmental records, don’t watch animal shows, select synthetic versus genuine alligator/animal skin, and shun products coming from endangered species. You contribute some amount in support of animal rights, speak up against human trafficking, and do your share to avert global warming. In your own sphere of influence, you become an activist for positive change. It’s a scaled-down—but very real—version of Angelina Jolie’s global efforts to help refugees.

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1. You totally get what “travel essentials” mean.

No more packing extra sets of clothes, a dozen pairs of socks, and a complete first aid kit. It’s not that you’ve become reckless. It’s because you’ve learned to trust that what you have is enough and things will work out. You understand that surprises are part of the adventure and you’ve learned to let go. So what do you do when your connecting flight is delayed, you’re stuck overnight in the airport, and your destination hotel is about to give away your room? You get comfortable and turn to page 1 of the thriller novel you couldn’t find time to read. You observe, explore, and take interesting photos. You get ready to swap travel stories with the person next to you. You’ve got your travel essentials covered.

  • a good novel;
  • a camera;
  • an open mind;
  • a sense of humor; and
  • making the best of what comes your way.

What if your precious laptop is in your luggage that got rerouted to another destination? You thank God you’ve got most of your files in an external hard drive in your carry-on bag and pray there’s a decent business center somewhere. Then you sigh, turn philosophical, and immerse yourself in the real-life, first-hand experience of your present moment.

Long after you’ve put away your luggage, your traveling experiences stay with you in pictures, in journals, and in your psyche. They contribute to turn you into the best version of who you are, so you can navigate the biggest adventure that is your life.

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Featured photo credit: Simon via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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