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5 Simple And Obvious Tips For Better Communication

5 Simple And Obvious Tips For Better Communication

    Some things we just know. Some things we learn by reading books (or fine blogs like Stepcase Lifehack) and yet another set of things we learn the hard way: by doing them. Or, to be more precise, by trial and error. Or, to be even more precise, by a lot of trial and a lot of errors.

    For me, one of these things was interpersonal communication. I always had a very easy way with words. Seemed that I can find them without too much effort. Also, I have the ability to learn new languages pretty easy (I’m not a native English speaker, by the way). And that made me believe for a long time that I was a good communicator.

    Of course, I was so totally wrong. As paradoxical as it may seem, interpersonal communication has very little to do with words. It doesn’t really matter how fast or accurate you may find them. The very core of interpersonal communication is not in words, it’s in interaction. It’s true that sometimes words may greatly enhance this interaction, but the core is always about dancing, not about posing.

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    So here are 5 simple rules that will help you get more value from your conversations. They’re not learned from any books, but from my own experience in countless of interpersonal communication processes.

    1. Never Start A Sentence If You Don’t Know How It Ends

    That was one of my biggest struggles when I started to consciously improve my interpersonal skills. There is this thrill of talking out of nothing, just to have your voice heard. I may say a stupid thing, but what the heck, at least I will make myself heard. What a dumb (and actually easy to avoid) mistake.

    The thin interest that you may generate will soon turn into laughter or just plain ignorance. Mean what you say and know exactly how it will turn out before putting it into words. While it looks like it may add some salt and pepper to the conversation by introducing some sort of randomness, speaking without really knowing what you say will only ruin the other part expectations. They’re talking to you because they’re searching for meaning, not for randomness.

    Now, every little thing I say is atomically processed in my head before it reaches my lips. It creates some sort of a mental space in which I can follow the main ideas or the further developments of the main conversation thread. If doing this sounds like too much of a hassle, don’t worry, it’s way much easier than you think. Just start practicing and it will come along naturally.

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    2. “Uh”, “Oh” and “Sheesh” Are Vague

    So expect to get back vague responses too. Interjections are not meant to generate an answer, but merely to acknowledge your surprise or satisfaction. If you use an “Oh” as a way to get an answer from somebody else, not only you will gradually puzzle your interlocutors, but, eventually, you will annoy the heck out of them.

    Being exact in your responses is fundamental in interpersonal communication. Imagine that you’re playing squash. You hit the ball and expect the wall to send it back exactly in the direction you calculate. Now imagine the wall is actually soft, or deformed, like being made from some sort of plastic. Your ball will fly around in unpredictable circles.

    That’s exactly what these types of interjections, which we all use because they’re holding some degree of “coolness”, are doing. They’re distorting the feedback we’re sending back to our interlocutor. In the end, he’ll walk out with a foggy conclusion about your interaction. If he’ll be able to extract a conclusion at all. Huh? ;)

    3. There’s No Right Or Wrong

    Noticed how often we continue a conversation just to prove that we’re right? I call that type of conversation a “loose end”. If somebody approaches me with something like “well, let me tell you how things really are in that matter”, I usually don’t. Don’t let that person tell me anything, that is.

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    Being right or wrong is a mental construct. We’re moving through life continuously, our own personalities may change over time and we’re constantly changing contexts and situations. What’s right here today may change tomorrow and what’s acceptable as true in your culture may be completely forbidden in another one.

    Hijacking an entire conversation just to prove yourself right is an incredible waste of time. Human interaction is much more valuable than we’re ready to accept and much more rewarding, if carefully practiced. For instance, the benefits of proving yourself right will last as long as that conversation, while the benefits of a true interaction will widely go over that 10 minutes span, maybe for years.

    4. Listening Is Always More Valuable Than Talking

    If you spend more than 50% percent of a conversation just talking, you’re losing big time. Ideally, a conversation will have at least half of the time dedicated to listening. Because that’s where the real value lies, in finding out new things. One can really know just as much as he knows. Value is created incrementally, by incorporating other messages in your knowledge base.

    That’s why I developed my own listening technique. Every time I witness my interlocutor’s eyes slipping slightly over my head, I know it’s time to use that technique. By the way, listening doesn’t mean you shut up. On the contrary, you support conversation, you show you’re engaged and willing to learn more.

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    Ask small questions, acknowledge that you’re processing the information, give small incentives to the other part so he’ll keep on talking. The art of listening is even more difficult than the art of talking, but, in my experience, its benefits are in direct proportion with the difficulty. Way bigger, that is.

    5. Login. Logout.

    Practice your openings and closings very carefully. When I enter a conversation, I usually do a mental “login”. Like I actually login on a remote server via some sort of a console (I’m a bit of a geek, I know, I can’t help it). Once I’m there, my activities are bound to that window. I almost never get out of that space until I finish what I was supposed to do there.

    This trick proved to be so valuable that I even used it in real life events like workshops or team buildings. The initial “ice breaking” sheet of paper is called “Login” and the feedback form I give them at the end  is called “Logout”. It helps everybody identify and respect the boundaries of that specific event.

    The same happens in conversations. That’s why I seldom respond to an interruption stimulus if I’m engaged with somebody else. If I start 3 login sessions at once, I will never remember what command I issued, in what window. They will just stay there, on my screen, but without real use. Or, in other words, interpersonal clutter.

    ***

    Have your own conversation tips? Would love to hear about them in the comments. Let’s start a little bit of an interpersonal interaction, folks. :)

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2018

    60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life

    60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life

    Sometimes it’s easier to focus on what we don’t have, rather than what we do have. It’s important to take time out and remember all of the things to be thankful for that many of us take for granted.

      Here you’ll find 60 very solid things to be thankful for in your everyday life. These are great reminders for you to treasure everything you have.

      1. Good Health

      Even if you’re health isn’t great, it could be worse and you likely still have some working parts to be thankful for.

      2. Money in the Bank

      Having just a few coins makes you richer than most people on Earth.

      3. Good Friends

      Often, it’s the quality of friendships, not the quantity.

      4. Freedom of Religion

      Being able to worship whomever and however you want is something many people don’t ever experience.

      5. Your Parents

      Even if they’re dysfunctional, they gave you life.

      6. Weekends

      There’s something magical about weekends.

      7.Having a Partner

      Being in a romantic relationship can teach you so much about the world and yourself.

      8. Pets

      Pets offer one of the best examples of unconditional love.

      9. Learning from Mistakes

      If we never made mistakes, we wouldn’t learn much so it is one of those things we should be thankful for.

      10. Opportunity to Get an Education

      The opportunity to attend school is something many people don’t have.

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      11. Having a Home

      Whether you live in an apartment, a mansion, or a tent, having a place to call home is something to be thankful for.

      12. An Ability to Read

      If you’re reading this right now, you have a lot to be thankful for.

      13. Breathing Fresh Air

      Being able to step outside to breathe in fresh air is a good reminder how many little things we should be thankful for.

      14. A Bed to Sleep

      A bed is one of those things that’s easy to take for granted, until you don’t have one.

      15. Laughter

      Without laughter, the world would be a sad place.

      16. Safety and Security

      Being able to wake up without immense fear frees us up to really live life.

      17. Cars

      Without cars, it would take a lot longer to get our activities done.

      18. Sunshine

      The sun’s warmth can brighten any day.

      19. Time

      Although we often don’t think there’s enough of it, time is something we shouldn’t take for granted.

      20. Clean Water

      Many people on earth lack access to clean water.

      21. Cell Phones

      Cell phones make talking to loved ones easy.

      22. Love

      The world sure would be a different place if we lacked the ability to love.

      23. Books

      Books provide an opportunity to enter another world all from the comfort of your own home.

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      24. Kindness of Strangers

      Never take the kindness of a stranger for granted.

      25. Campfires

      The simplicity of a campfire creates lifelong memories.

      26. Pain

      Without pain, it would be difficulty to appreciate life’s joys.

      27. Art

      The world would be less beautiful if art didn’t exist.

      28. Holidays

      Any reason to celebrate is something we should be thankful for.

      29. Freedom of Speech

      Being able to express your thoughts and feelings freely should never be taken for granted.

      30. Rainbows

      The beauty of a rainbow is unmatched.

      31. Tears

      Sometimes when there are no words to say, tears express how we feel for us.

      32. Waking up Today

      Simply waking up today means you have things to be thankful for.

      33. Indoor Plumbing

      Indoor plumbing not only provides convenience, it spares us from disease.

      34. Wisdom that Comes with Age

      Thankfully, we grow smarter over time.

      35. Mountains

      Mountains provide us with beauty and recreation.

      36. Eyesight

      Being able to see allows us to view the world’s beauty.

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      37. Grocery Stores

      Grocery stores mean we don’t have to spend all of our time getting our own food.

      38. Sunsets

      Sunsets are a reminder that we should enjoy the simple things in life.

      39. Entertainment

      Entertainment gives us a way to relax and enjoy life.

      40. Your Mind

      Being able to think, remember, and solve problems sure makes life easier.

      41. Employment

      Even if you don’t like your job, being employed means someone thought you were special enough to hire.

      42. Diversity

      The world would be a boring place without diversity.

      43. Moon and Stars

      The moon and stars encourage us to dream.

      44. Electricity

      Electricity makes most of our chores efficient.

      45. Air Conditioning

      Staying cool on a hot day is something people wouldn’t have dreamed about in past centuries.

      46. Hearing

      Being able to hear your loved one’s voice is something that not everyone gets to do.

      47. Children

      Watching children laugh, grow, and dream can keep things in perspective.

      48. Ability to Learn

      The ability to learn new things means we have endless potential.

      49. People Willing to Teach

      Whether it’s your grandmother teaching you to knit or your plumber showing you how to prevent future problems, be grateful that others are willing to use their time and talents to teach you something new.

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      50. Oceans

      The sea creatures in the ocean almost seem too mystical to be real.

      51. Modern Medicine

      Without advances in modern medicine, many of us wouldn’t be alive.

      52. Music

      Music brings out new emotions.

      53. Entrepreneurs

      Some of life’s best inventions resulted from an entrepreneur who was willing to take a risk.

      54. Warm Clothing

      On a cold day, there’s nothing more important than warm clothing.

      55. Freedom to Vote

      Being able to have a say in the laws should never be taken for granted.

      56. An Internet Connection

      It’s hard to believe how easy it is to take the internet for granted, seeing how none of us had just a couple of decades ago.

      57. Challenges

      Without challenges in life, we wouldn’t be the people we are now.

      58. Hiking Trails

      Hiking trails give us the chance to enjoy mother’s nature beauty.

      59. Vaccines

      Many of us wouldn’t be alive without today’s vaccinations.

      60. Armed Forces

      Our lives would likely be very different if we didn’t have protection from the armed forces.

      Realizing all the things you should be thankful for is the first step, practicing gratitude is what you should start doing:

      6 Ways To Implement More Gratitude In Your Life

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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