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12 Reasons To Be Your Own BFF

12 Reasons To Be Your Own BFF

The idea behind a Best Friend Forever (BFF) is someone who knows you like no other person. Your BFF is someone who has your best interests in mind, who knows and accepts you for who you are no matter what faults you might have or things you’ve done. Who’s to say your BFF has to be another person?

The thought of being your own BFF may be a little strange at first, especially because many people would think a friend is someone to rely on and give you advice. Below are a few reasons to help you realize you might not need a friend to build your confidence and be your crutch.

1. A BFF will agree with you because it’s what you want to hear.

Someone telling us we are making the right choice is helpful for our confidence. The problem with that is, we start to crave other people’s approval for every decision. This also gives us someone to blame if the decision turns out to be a bad one. When you rely on yourself to make your own decisions, you will be the one responsible for its success or failure. Making your own decisions and taking responsibility for them is a great method of building your character, too.

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2. BFFs have inside jokes.

While you might not be comfortable talking to yourself and laughing at your own jokes, you know what makes you smile. Being able to laugh at yourself might be hard for you. Look at it this way: if you’re with a friend and they they do something goofy, will you laugh at them? I think so. Why not laugh at yourself instead of getting angry or embarrassed?

3. A BFF will reassure you.

You can do this daily by being positive towards yourself. Track your daily progress towards your goals. When you work out and see your measurements change, for example, that’s something you did. Acknowledging that can build your confidence more than someone patting you on the back.

4. A BFF doesn’t know all of your insecurities.

Even though we talk to other people, we don’t tell them everything. Heck, we don’t even admit everything to ourselves most of the time. While you might appear to be confident and on top of your game, you are also self-conscious about something. It might be a fear of failure, not being comfortable with a big commitment, an addiction or something else. If you have a hard time admitting it to yourself, odds are you aren’t going to be chatty about your private problem with someone else. As they say, the first step is coming to the realization you have a problem. No one else can do that for you.

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5. A BFF won’t make you focus on things you want to accomplish.

No one can tell you your goals. They can make suggestions, but in the end, it’s your heart and dreams you follow. A BFF will encourage you when you have a goal, but their drive is more about seeing you happy. They have their own goals and dreams to follow. When you are your own BFF you can build habits to help you reach your goal. Whether or not the habits are working out more, eating better or starting that business you’ve always wanted to own, you are the one driving your own success.

6. You won’t be lonely.

Part of being your own BFF is learning to entertain yourself. I don’t mean to plop down on the couch and clear the DVR. What I mean is, you need to be able to be in a room with no one else and the TV off, and be content. This might be in the form of a hobby like reading or making something. Learning something like a new language or to play the guitar could qualify here. Many times we rely on other things or other people to entertain us. By really getting to know our own interests, we can start to find things we can enjoy by ourselves.

7. You’ll learn to trust yourself.

Trust is hard to regain when lost. We tend to be most critical of ourselves, so learning to trust ourselves is not the easiest thing once we have made a few bad choices. We will start second guessing ourselves. We start to question whether we know what it is we really want or should be doing with our lives.

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8. You won’t hold a grudge.

Other people can misinterpret your intentions. They also have their own point of view on situations and on your actions. They can be hurt and not be able to forgive you. Being your own BFF means you need to forgive yourself. In the end, we are responsible for ourselves. If we can’t forgive and love ourselves, how can we expect to love and forgive anyone else?

9. You’ll tap into powerful self respect.

Respect is earned. Self respect is something earned through learning to be happy with yourself. No one can make you love yourself. No one can make you see how great you are. These come from within. By creating the person you’d like to be, you will love yourself more. The more you love yourself and who you are, the more you will see your value and feel the self respect you’ve earned along the journey.

10. You will always be there…for yourself.

Self-soothing is a parenting technique used with infants. Self-soothing teaches the child to be calm and work through their problem by themselves. The same applies to adults. Many adults really can’t solve their own problems. As soon as something unpleasant happens, they run to someone else to have them fix it. When the other person isn’t readily available, it adds to the drama of the situation. Being able to step back and rationally look at the problem and come up with a solution is part of being an adult. Making decisions to better your life is not something you should rely on someone else for. It’s your life.

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11. You won’t back down.

No one will fight harder for your dreams than you will. At the end of the day, your goals are yours alone. Failure and success are your doing. If you want to make your goals happen, do it. It’s all you.

12. You can’t take advantage of yourself

People in our lives will have ulterior motives. They might want to piggy-back on your success. They could want to sweet talk you into loaning them money. Whatever the reason is, some people will tell you what you want to hear so they can get what they want. While you wouldn’t expect your BFF to do this, it can happen. You can’t really have an ulterior motive while doing the things you do for yourself. The only person you’d cheat is yourself.

Featured photo credit: BFF on the ice via flickr.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!

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Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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