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13 Simple Things You Can Do To Make Your Life Extraordinary

13 Simple Things You Can Do To Make Your Life Extraordinary

Have you ever noticed how some people seem to get ahead in life easily and effortlessly no matter what is going on around them? These people are amazing entrepreneurs, artists, innovators, leaders and even motivators. What is more interesting is that they are often not the most talented, hard working or smart people around. Yet, somehow, they achieve much more than the rest of us. What is it that makes their life so extraordinary? How can someone’s life even be extraordinary all the time?

Khalil Gibran says, “Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.” The key to success isn’t complex. Rather, it is the cumulative effect of simple daily habits that bring success. If you are ready to live a truly extraordinary, you should follow the example of extraordinary people and do those simple things that perpetuate success and help make your own life extraordinary.

1. You must be more confident.

Do away with shyness. You are an extraordinary person and you should know that. Confident people have a marked assurance about them that just gives them an edge. Understand your own competences and the value you provide. Be at ease with who you are in full knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses. Act in ways that convey that understanding to others without being arrogant to display confidence. Also, work out, dress better and use power poses like standing with arms outstretched to boost your confidence and appreciate yourself more. These are signs of confidence.

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2. You need to watch who you allow into your life.

Pay attention to who you allow into your life. Your energy levels grow or diminish based on what you are doing, who you are doing it with and or who you are surrounded with. If the people you allow into your life or surround yourself with zap your energy, deplete it and leave you exhausted, remove them from your life. However, if the people you allow into your life energize you and make you feel fired up and ready to go, cherish them and tap into their positive vibe to achieve more and live happier.

3. You must tell the truth.

The truth can be scary and difficult. But, when you tell the truth you not only set yourself apart from the majority, but also set yourself free to live without worry of contradicting yourself. You don’t have to remember what you said to whom. You earn a reputation as an honest person and people pick up on that and follow your example. They become more truthful to you. Start telling the truth today and never stop. Tell the truth to yourself and to others. Tell the truth when it is easy to do so and when it is not. Tell the truth to underscore you are serious about living an honest, extraordinary life.

4. You should practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness is about paying attention and staying aware of the world around you. In our fast-paced life, more people need to stop rushing through life, multi-tasking and start paying attention and noticing the world around us. Just slow down and appreciate your immediate surroundings. Focus on your responsibilities and experiences and respond to them with an objective, compassionate and non-judgmental attitude. You will find mindfulness helps you better respond to all of life’s experiences with calmness, sobriety and hope, even when those experiences are painful.

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5. You need to allow change.

Change is inevitable. From the day you are born to the day you die, you will encounter change severally. People marry, switch careers, re-locate to another city and even move overseas in the course of time. Give yourself permission to feel all of the emotions that come along with change. Deal with any signs of resistance that threaten to obstruct or hinder your progress, such as foot-dragging and inertia. Keep in mind the wise words of Anatole France, “…we must die to one life before we can enter another.”

6. You should smile and laugh more.

This is probably the simplest and easiest one to add into your life right now. Truly extraordinary people seem so happy because they chose to be. They are optimists. They focus on the brighter side of life instead of wallowing in the negatives of life. Recognize that a well-led life is full of humor and humor is the flipside of tragedy. Laugh and smile more in life. Laughter not only makes you look younger and more attractive, but also has numerous health benefits like lowering your stress levels. Besides, smiling and laughter is contagious. It infects others and makes their lives brighter too.

7. You must forgive and move forward.

We have all been hurt or offended at some point and will be hurt and offended in the future. Learn to forgive whenever you are hurt, otherwise the weight of unforgiveness will weigh you down. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting what happened. It also does not mean the other person will change her behavior. Rather, it means letting go of the anger and recognizing there is no point in allowing resentment to dominate your life. Forgive yourself and forgive others. Let go and move forward. Start from a clean slate and you will enjoy a truly happy and extraordinary life.

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8. You must love what you do.

“Do what you love; Love what you do.” That was the unofficial work mantra of Steve Jobs. He preached and advocated love for your job passionately, attributing it in part to his success. He is quoted saying, “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love.” If you can’t find what you love, at least start loving what you do. Focus on the little good things about your job like your workmates and do your best every time. You just might leave a notable mark in this world.

9. You need to seek help and guidance.

Nobody knows everything, which means you can’t do everything completely on your own. The sooner you learn this, the better. You will need help, advice, support and guidance along the way. People who lead extraordinary lives understand this fact and are not afraid to seek help. They are keen on learning new things and know seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of respect for other people’s skills and knowledge. Ask for help, advice or other information respectfully whenever you need it. Make sure you express your gratitude afterwards. You will be better off after it.

10. You need to sleep enough.

You don’t need to work extra hard to lead a happy, successful life. Instead, you can just work smarter. That includes sleeping enough to give your body and mind enough time to rest and recover so that both can function optimally. Get enough sleep each night—seven to eight hours, at least. You will wake up the next day refreshed, energized and ready for the day ahead. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’re killing your productivity, killing brain cells and killing your chances of success without even knowing it.

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11. You need to show unexpected kindness.

A simple act of kindness (even to an animal) is a powerful force that can dramatically alter anyone’s perception and experience in life. Show kindness without expecting anything in return. Acts of kindness prove you care. When you care, people notice. And, when people notice, it is an opportunity to make a positive difference in this world that is mad-dogged with intolerance, impatience and aggression.

12. You should give genuine feedback and compliments.

Give genuine feedback and compliments to others, even those you only interact in passing. Express your sincere appreciation for what they do. This simple habit has a ripple effect that opens doors for you to receive similar feedback, which helps you know how you are doing in your own life and areas you can improve. People instantly like those who like them and genuinely want to help and support them. Words like “thank you” and “good job,” therefore, can pay you back tenfold.

13. You must have fun.

Just have fun, generally. Learn from Sir Richard Branson who believes that if you have fun and do good then success will come. We are only human. You need time off, fun and excitement in your life to blow off some steam and stir up your creative mind. Besides, success is not an overnight thing. You might as well enjoy your way to where you want to be.

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Featured photo credit: Adib Roy via flickr.com

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David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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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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