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20 Ways Gratitude Improves Productivity

20 Ways Gratitude Improves Productivity

Gratitude is a word that is thrown around a lot. But what does it really mean?

We are told to be grateful but often it seems as if gratitude is more an obligation than anything else. Another item on our already overburdened to-do list. We may end up feeling resentful when we are expected to feel grateful particularly under difficult circumstances.

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The key is to understand what gratitude really is and the impact it has on your life and the lives of those around you. In fact, gratitude has some hidden benefits that can improve your productivity and your life.

Why We Want To Cultivate Gratitude

Gratitude is not a feeling. It is really a way of life and a way of meeting life and all of its challenges.

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Gratitude is a frame for reality, which enables us to align with the good in the world as well as the evolutionary progress of the human race. It is the opposite of resentful entitlement. Gratitude allows us to accept things as they are even as we try to improve them. It enables us to see ourselves as participants in creating the good in life.

Gratitude puts us in more positive relationship to life and others around us. It separates our attitude from our circumstances so that our current reality does not drag us down. Gratitude is a way of being that lets us participate fully in life without concern for rewards and status. It gets our ego out of the way.

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Gratitude lets us give what we can, knowing that we are one of many so that we do not have to carry the burdens of the world on our shoulders.

Gratitude comes from valuing the opportunity to be here on the planet. Everything else is up for grabs.

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How Gratitude Helps Us Live Productive Lives

When gratitude is the cornerstone of your life, a number of things happen:

  1. You can let go of controlling outcomes by simply working toward the best possible outcome and letting the chips fall where they may.
  2. You can be a work in progress and let the rest of the world be a work in progress as well – we are all learning. Mistakes do not make you or another person “bad.”
  3. You can give your all to anything you do and trust in the best possible outcome whatever that is. Gratitude lets you throw yourself into what you are doing. Happy to be able to participate, you can give your all and generally do better work as a result.
  4. You are free to completely immerse yourself in your life without reservations about comparisons and status. You can be yourself.
  5. You are free to love since loving is what makes life good for you and everyone else. There is no need to hold back.
  6. You are free to create since you are aligned with the positive. This means that even mistakes are positive since they help you get closer to creating something better.
  7. Emotional issues no longer affect you since you are not spending your time comparing yourself to others and fighting for an agenda.
  8. You can more easily accept others and yourself. We are all imperfect people seeking the best possible life. There is no reason not to be friends.
  9. You no longer take anything personally. Life presents difficult challenges for everyone; it’s not just about you.
  10. You let go of the need to immerse yourself in unnecessary adversarial relationships since you seek only the best for everyone. There is no one to harm.
  11. You trust that when something does not work out it is for the best. It fits your view that we are learning.
  12. You can embrace a trial and error mindset without fear. It is OK to experiment.
  13. You can have a positive attitude toward your choices by accepting what matters in the present without rejecting what may work at another time. Anything can be productive or counterproductive depending on the wisdom of its use.
  14. You can be more process oriented which raises the quality of your work. When you do not spend your time forcing outcomes or fighting other people, then you are more focused on the work at hand: the process and the details involved. You are able to do better work.
  15. You get rid of your own agendas so that you have a more accurate perception of what is needed at any given point of time. Each point in time has certain possibilities but not others. You embrace the current possibility, work with it, and let others go.
  16. You can let others make their own mistakes. We all make them as we learn. Letting people make their own mistakes is a way of trusting others to know what is best for them.
  17. You more easily align with what is necessary and what is good because everything else is a waste of time and energy.
  18. You do not need discipline since you are more naturally aligned with positive forces, so you are more comfortable with yourself, your actions and less likely to have regrets.
  19. You do not fight yourself or others since there is no reason to.
  20. You can be very relaxed because you are unfolding along with everyone else. Life works for you.

Gratitude Helps You Enjoy Life

Gratitude is a generous and relaxed quality that lets us be with life and a part of life. It is trusting, a quality that is often lacking in our social space. Because of that relaxed trust, work and love are easier and more enjoyable.

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We only live a short period of time. Gratitude helps our time on earth be one of joy.

Featured photo credit:  Baby with a Thank You Sign via Shutterstock

More by this author

Maria Hill

Maria Hill is the owner of Sensitive Evolution, an online platform dedicated to improving the lives of highly sensitive people.

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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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