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15 Things You Don’t Owe Anyone At All (Though You Think You Do)

15 Things You Don’t Owe Anyone At All (Though You Think You Do)

Many choices we make in life—ranging from what we do, to how we conduct ourselves, and who we interact with—are subject to prying questions and commentary from those around us. Family members, friends, and even total strangers, it often seems like everyone has an opinion on the things we do, no matter how small or insignificant those things might seem to us.

Sometimes people go so far as to ask you to explain yourself for the decisions or choices you make in your own life. You might feel obliged to respond, but some things are really no one else’s business and you don’t owe anyone an explanation at all for the following 15 things—though you think you do.

1. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your living situation.

Whether you are cohabiting with your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, crashing in different motel rooms across the country, or living with your parents for a while when you are past your twenties, you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone for who you live with and why if you don’t want to. If you are fully aware of your living situation, then it means you have your own reasons for being in that situation that are nobody else’s business.

2. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your life priorities.

You have your own ideas about the things that would make you and your loved ones truly comfortable and happy, which is your main priority. Since we are all unique individuals with different values, dreams and aspirations, your core priorities will be different from the next person’s. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for what you determine is your core priority in life. That is your personal business not other people’s business.

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3. You don’t owe anyone an apology if you are not sorry.

If you don’t regret your actions, still think someone is wrong about something or don’t care much for their forgiveness, you don’t have to apologize. Many people are too quick to offer apologies and try to mend wounds that are not yet ready to be mended, which only serves to aggravate the wound and bring more problems. You really don’t have to apologize if you are not sorry or your side of the story hasn’t been heard.

4. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for requiring alone time.

You might worry that you will come across as “rude,” “anti-social” or “aloof” when you cancel plans or other obligations because you need some time alone to reboot, unwind or just enjoy a good book by yourself. However, spending time alone is a completely normal, natural and necessary practice that more people should adopt. Take your alone time confidently because you don’t owe anybody an explanation for it.

5. You don’t owe anyone your agreement on their personal beliefs.

Just because someone shares their personal beliefs passionately doesn’t mean you have to sit there and nod in approval to everything they say. If you don’t share in their beliefs, it is unfair to yourself and to the other person to suppress your own thoughts and feelings and pretend you agree with them. It’s okay and better to disagree with them gracefully instead of bottling up your disapproval and frustrations.

6. You don’t owe anyone a yes to everything they say.

You have a right to say no whenever there is no compelling reason to say yes. In fact, the most successful people in the world are those who have mastered the art of saying no to everything that is not a priority. Acknowledge other people’s kindness and be grateful for it, but don’t be afraid to politely decline anything that takes your focus away from your core goals and priorities. That’s how to get ahead.

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7. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your physical appearance.

You might be slender, plump, tall, short, pretty, plain or whatever, but you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone for why you look how you do. Your physical appearance is your own business and you are obligated only to yourself. Physical appearance shouldn’t determine your self-worth.

8. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your food preferences.

There are certain foods that you just don’t like at all for different reasons, including taste preference and health issues. You don’t have to explain to anyone at all why you prefer certain foods. Your food preference is a matter that is best left to you. If anyone pesters you about why you are eating (or not eating) certain foods, shrug it off and just say you feel better eating (or not eating) those foods.

9. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your sex life.

As long as it happens with another consenting adult, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for where, when and how you conduct your sex life. You can wait for marriage, try one-night stands or experiment with same sex encounters to your heart’s pleasure and still not have to explain your sexual preferences to anybody.

10. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your career or personal life choices.

Sometimes circumstances force us to choose between work and “having a life.” The decision is not always easy and you might end up choosing work, not because you don’t care about your family or social life, but because you are working on something that will give you security in the future. Either way, you don’t owe others an explanation for choosing a career over your personal life (or vice versa) as long as you are confident about what you are doing and why you are doing it.

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11. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your religious or political views.

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Catholic, Protestant or Muslim, that is your own personal choice. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for why you are what you are and believe what you believe. If someone can’t accept you for who you are, that is their personal dogma—not yours.

12. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for being single.

Whether you are single by design or by default that is nobody’s business. Being single is not a personality disorder. You are free to be in a relationship or not. Besides, you are far more than your relationship status and singlehood is just one of those social labels no one should really care about.

13. You don’t owe anyone a date just because they asked.

Someone might be nice, good looking and you may even be a little interested, but you don’t owe them a date just because they ask. If you feel deep down you don’t want to go on that date, then don’t. You may offer a reason for declining, but keep it brief and stick to your decision.

14. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your decision about marriage.

Whether or not you choose to get married and have kids or stay unmarried and be childfree, that is your own personal decision. Even your mom who is dying for grandchildren should understand that marriage is a personal decision and not suited for everyone. She should respect your decision about it no matter how hard it is to swallow.

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15. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your relationship choices.

Sometimes people make inappropriate commentary about your romantic relationship(s), which is really none of their business. You might overhear comments like you are not the “perfect couple” or you should find someone else. However, you are not answerable to anyone but yourself for your relationship choices. Live your life and never, ever leave or stay in a relationship just because someone else says you have to. Make your own mistakes if you must, but learn from them always.

Featured photo credit: Bassi Baba via flickr.com

More by this author

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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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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