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5 Things Commander Shepard Taught Me About Perseverance

5 Things Commander Shepard Taught Me About Perseverance

Ah, Commander Shepard. What made him such an inspiring game character? I think it was the fact that he never gave up. Whether it was against Saren, Sovereign, Harbinger, or the Illusive Man, he always brought his best. For fans of the games, this is true whether you went down the paragon or renegade road. One (usually the latter) just got it done with a bit more, ahem, death and destruction. So, what did Shepard and his story teach me about maintaining the kind of perseverance that leads to success? I’ll let you know below

1. You Don’t Have To Be Anybody Special.

I mean sure, Shepard was a member of the elite N7 special forces and he later became a Spectre, but in relation to the people who either followed him or wanted him dead, he might as well have been just another guy off the street. To me, Commander Shepard was the archetypal “leader.” He had the ability to make key decisions and deal with the consequences. He wasn’t the best shot on his team; that title goes to Garrus. He wasn’t the best assassin; that would probably go to Thane. Nor was he the strongest (Wrex), or the smartest (Liara or Mordin), or even the best soldier (Zaeed or maybe Grunt). His companions, taken individually, were each better at their specialty than Shepard was. What made Shepard special, besides his leadership ability, was his tendency to put his own drama aside to deal with his friends. So, while each member of his squad may have been better than him on a singular basis, it was Shepard himself who ensured that all of the pieces fit. It was he who allowed Wrex and Garrus and Tali and Legion to work together. I think that’s a pretty good lesson to take with you into real life. While you may not be the best at anything, you can still go incredibly far by being a good person, someone who brings folks together rather than pushes them apart. Couple that with decent leadership skills, and you might just make a future for yourself.

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2. You Should Rely On Your Friends.

As much as I pumped up Shepard’s ability to be the shoulder to cry on for all of those around him, it was often a two way street. Without his friends, there’s no way he could have accomplished anything, probably best revealed by the end of Mass Effect 2, where you literally fail the mission if you didn’t put enough time into growing and cultivating your squad. Often, the best way to persevere through life’s most turbulent curve balls is not to try and take it on all by yourself, but to mitigate the blow by spreading it amongst you and your loved ones. I don’t mean to say that you should try and transfer all of your pain and suffering onto someone else and make it their burden too, but that you should always seek out advice and support from those you trust. As Shepard taught us, you aren’t the best at everything, or perhaps even at anything, and thus it behooves you to grow friendships in order to make up for your deficiencies. While something may seem catastrophic to you, your friend might have just the right tools to help you get your life back in gear. Just make sure they’re not too busy working on some calibrations to help you out.

3. Don’t Let Your Doubts Keep You From Your Goals.

While the Shepard in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 was relatively confident (for the most part), the third game revealed more of his doubts to us, which makes sense seeing as it was by far the most apocalyptic in the trilogy. Even still, when everything was crashing down around him (literally most of the time), he managed to stay focused on immediate goals. When Earth fell, he went straight to looking for a super weapon that might destroy the Reapers. When the Illusive Man turned against him, Shepard immediately began planning how to bring about his demise. Nightmares plagued Shepard throughout the third game, but he didn’t let them distract him from the endgame. In life, we often let our intangible doubts keep us from accomplishing real things. Shepard had the enviable trait of being able to acknowledge those doubts and carry on anyways, come what may. I don’t think I’m there yet, but I strive to keep a similar mindset everyday and so should you.

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4. You Can Recover From Crushing Defeats.

In case you forgot, Commander Shepard died at the beginning of Mass Effect 2. Luckily for all of us, he was brought back to life thanks to the magic of science fiction medicine and lots of money. Not only did he die, but as a consequence he lost his ship and most of his crew from Mass Effect 1. Most people would take such a crushing blow as a sign to slow their roll a bit, but the revived Shepard forged on ahead anyways. I’m not sure if I’ve experienced anything I would call a crushing blow yet, but I have had my share of losses. It can be incredibly tough to see past your failures and move on towards the future, but those who can are better able to make up for past mishaps. In Shepard’s case, he used his defeats as a form of motivation. When he lost his ship, he didn’t call it quits. He got a new ship and a new crew, and took the fight directly to the party responsible for his initial defeat, destroying their ship and their base in the process. I’m not saying that you should go out of your way to crush everything responsible for your defeats. While that might be appropriate in some cases, in others it will suffice to just keep trying to accomplish what you failed to do in the first place. Though if you do happen to get the opportunity to tell off a few of the folks who have prevented your ascension to the top, be my guest and have at it!

5. Never Let “The Powers That Be” Dictate Your Journey.

We as a species are incredibly and hypocritically complex. On the one hand, we want our freedom and individuality. On the other, we often like being told what to do or being given direction of some sort. Otherwise, why would we have politicians, managers, bosses, etc. While they certainly have their uses, it’s also important to maintain your own identity, to not let those above you completely control your destiny. Shepard expertly straddled the line between willful disobedience and loyal employee. He didn’t take any crap from his superiors, and when they ordered him to do something ridiculous or illogical, he’d tell them off and get the job done his way. The right way. On the other hand, he never truly disobeyed his superiors, always completing the tasks they truly wanted him to accomplish. Shepard’s recalcitrant attitude towards those with dictatorial personalities certainly served him well. Had he blindly listened to all of the blustering words that spewed out of the mouths of the Council, Sovereign, the Illusive Man, Harbinger, and the Catalyst, there’s no doubt he would have failed in his mission.

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While there were multiple possible endings to Mass Effect 3, I like to believe that the “destroy” ending is the canonical one, because it shows Shepard going against the will of a supposedly superior being one last time, defeating the reapers once and for all, and miraculously surviving the experience. Shepard knew when to follow orders, and he knew when he was getting his chain yanked by untrustworthy entities concerned only for their own gain. That is something you must be on the lookout for in your life as well. Be a good soldier when necessary, but don’t be taken advantage of. While you might not save the galaxy like Shepard did, you’ll certainly be more successful as a result of your ability to persevere in pursuing the things that you know are right for you.

And with that, as Commander Shepard would say, “I should go.”

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Featured photo credit: Mass Effect 3/ dennisvillanueva84 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on February 20, 2019

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

Possessing effective communication skills is a powerful tool to have. Effective communication skills are essential to success in many aspects and areas of your life. There are a lot of jobs that require you to be a good communicator.

Strong communication skills help you enjoy better relationships with friends and family. Being an effective communicator will give you advantages in more ways than you can imagine.

Conversely, being poor at communicating will negatively impact your life.

Let’s take a look at how to master effective communication skills at work and home.

What is Effective Communication?

Probably a good place to start is to paint a picture of what clear communication is.

Effective communication is defined as verbal speech or other communication methods to get your point across. Sounds pretty simple, right? It does but there’s more to it than that.

It’s really about how all of us interact and communicate in every aspect of our lives. It’s the ability to say something at the right time; to be able to get multiple people on the same page in a group decision. It’s how that one friend of yours who plans most of the activities is able to get everyone to the same place at the same time.

Non-verbal communication is key to being effective as well. It’s the ability to have your body language say the right thing so the person you’re speaking to knows your listening.

Effective communicators don’t react to situations with high emotion. It means not having to say something all the time in every situation. You are even being an effective communicator when you show up to pick your daughter up from the mall when you say you will. You are communicating to her that she can rely on you.

Are You a Poor Communicator?

Before we get too deep into how to be a master communicator, let’s take a look at your communication skills.

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If you find yourself agreeing with a lot of these, you might want to sharpen your communication skills.

  • You’re constantly interrupting – Hey, I know, we all want to be listened to. We all want to get our point across. Most importantly, we want to be understood. If you find yourself interrupting all the time you aren’t listening enough.
  • Doing too much – Many of us are master multi-taskers. It’s not good if you are communicating with someone. When you try to do too much while speaking with someone, you aren’t paying attention to what they are saying. Lack of focus is bad.
  • Rambling – I know of several people I work with who do this constantly. I honestly dread having to speak to them. The worst part is even though a lot of words are coming out of their mouths, they really aren’t saying anything. I’m more confused after they answer my question.
  • Not being direct – Nothing wrong with emails or reports. However, if you can convey the same information quickly and directly to someone, it is much more effective. Why write a 2 paragraph email when you can pick up the phone and say the same information in 2 sentences?
  • Always talking about yourself – Everybody likes to relate things to their own experiences. It draws us together and helps us create a feeling of sharing and community. If you are always coloring someone else’s conversation with a similar situation in your life, people will think you are making everything about you. Don’t be that person!
  • Using a lot of qualifiers – Qualifiers are fine for the most part. When you use them as a crutch most of the time when you speak, it’s not helping your communication. Sometimes, we do this to makes things seem “softer”. Saying things like “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way but…” or “I know what you’re thinking but…” over and over doesn’t help you communicate.
  • Your ears don’t work – If you don’t listen well, you can’t answer someone correctly. In order to be an effective communicator, you have to understand what someone else is saying to you. If you don’t listen with purpose you will only have part of the picture.
  • Bad body language – The importance of body language is well documented. If you don’t look at someone when they are speaking, it appears that you don’t really care what’s being said. This makes people feel like you don’t care what they are saying and it’s not important to you. Other bad body language examples include always crossing your arms and not looking someone in the eyes.

What Effective Communication Can Do For You

Let’s take a look at how being able to effectively communicate can help you at work and in your personal relationships.

Work

  • Better client relationships – You certainly want a great communicator to be handling your client relationships. Strong communicators represent both the client and your company is the best manner.
  • Higher employee engagement – Pretty critical if you are a leader or a manager of people. An engaging and interactive communicator in a leadership position is wonderful for employees.
  • Getting better buy in from others – This is great whether you are a manager or individual contributor. Strong communicators tend to get people moving and working towards a common goal.
  • Helps mitigate conflict – Good communicators are able to help resolve conflicts quicker and easier. This helps smooth things over and keeps projects and initiatives moving forward.
  • Builds trust – You want to be able to trust who you work for and with. Effective communicators are good at establishing and building trust between people and groups.
  • Solves problems – Problems are solved by people with the ability to communicate clearly between groups and people. Those without good communication skills many times add to the confusion of a problem because they are unable to articulate their thoughts and ideas.

Personal relationships

  • Creates closeness – A good communicator is able to help foster a feeling of closeness with his or her partner.
  • Makes conflict okay – It’s actually better to fight with your partner from time to time instead of never fighting. We all have differences of opinion and points of view. When we don’t express these and bury it inside by not communicating, it just comes out later in a more negative form.
  • Provides support – It’s nice to know that someone cares about you and supports you. A strong communicator will ask how you’re doing and be a good sounding board for what you’re going through.
  • Expressing feelings – People who are not effective communicators tend to be not very good at expressing how they feel. This makes it tough to share your feelings with you partner.
  • Get the loving you want – In order to get the physical, mental, and emotional love you want and need, you have to be able to communicate clearly and appropriately with your spouse or partner. This is done through effective communication.
  • Eliminate mistrust, doubt, faithlessness, and insecurities – Many times these seeds are sown due to a lack of communication. If your partner rarely tells you where he or she is going, you will tend to start coming up with your own ideas. Often these aren’t true but how would you know if you aren’t told?

Can You Improve Your Communication Skills?

The short answer is yes, of course you can improve your communication skills.

Improving or changing anything in your life takes some work and effort but it can be done. You have to keep in mind your starting point and your goal.

If you are not a very good communicator now and you want to be able to give a motivating speech to a large graduating class, you’d better get working.

On the other hand, if you get along fairly well in general but want to be able to improve your relationship with your boss or spouse by being able to master effective communication, you may just need some guidance and practice.

Either way, if you want to master effective communication skills at both work and home, it will take a little work and effort. Doing so will benefit you in many ways.

How to Master Effective Communication Skills

In general mastering effective communication skills will help you at both work and home. Let’s look at how to improve verbal, written, and body language communication skills. These will help you create better relationships everywhere you go!

1. Learn how to listen

Speaking is only half of the communication equation. Sharpen your listening skills so you are able to process what the other person is saying. You can then respond it a well-informed manner.

Check out these active listening guidelines to be a better listener.

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2. Make eye contact

Having regular eye contact with someone while you are having a conversation shows you care what they are saying. When you are looking at the floor or out the window it gives the impression that you aren’t paying attention.

Take a look at this advice on how to make engaging eye contact.

3. Ask questions

When you ask someone questions, you are able to clarify what they are saying to ensure you get the whole picture. If you don’t understand it fully, ask questions.

Do you know that it takes some skills to ask questions too? Here’s how to be good at asking questions.

4. Watch body language

Watch both yours and the other persons.

We all know if you have a conversation with your arms crossed the entire time, it gives off a bad vibe. Have open, engaging body language when speaking with someone.

On the flip side, if you see someone’s eyes glazing over while speaking to you, it’s probably a good idea to wrap it up.

Take a look at these top 20 body language indicators to learn more.

5. Speak confidently

Sometimes this is easier said than done. If you communicate in an open, direct, and clear manner, it subtly shows people that you are confident in what you are saying.

It doesn’t mean you always have to be right but delivering your thoughts with confidence helps your case.

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These tips will help you speak more confidently.

6. Keep it simple

You don’t always have to be succinct in your communication. There is a lot of value in being able to tell a great story.

That being said, there are many instances where keeping it simple is very helpful. This is especially true at work in both verbal conversations as well as written like emails.

7. Know your audience

You should have a certain style when communicating with your boss. Another style of communication is better with your spouse and probably others with your kids or friends.

Know your audience to help you communicate the most effectively.

8. Be empathetic and understanding

There is a massive amount of power in being empathetic. And I mean that in a very positive way.

Showing that you are empathetic and understanding to another person goes a long way to creating a great bond with that person. We all want to be understood. It’s that simple.

Think it’s a challenge for you? These 5 tips for empathetic listening will help you.

9. Pause before reacting

There have been a number of times when I’ve read an email that just came in and had an instant reaction to reading it. And I don’t mean a positive reaction. My less effective ways of dealing and communicating has been to send a scathing email back.

When I’ve communicated more appropriately, I’ve waited a while before I responded. This is true in verbal situations as well.

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10. Over communicate

You’d think if you tell someone something that should be the end of it, right? Done deal. Not so fast.

I’m not recommending you tell someone the same thing 10 times in a row. With as many distractions as we all have these days, it’s generally a good idea to follow up on something you’ve communicated a few times if it’s important.

Conclusion

Having effective communication skills at both work and home will help you immensely.

At work, it helps you in your career in many ways.

Communicating well with your boss leads to a solid, symbiotic working relationship. You’re able to clearly articulate what you need to do your job well. You can share your vision and strategy with your boss and others. Good communicators are needed in management roles and leading others. Fostering an environment of effective communication leads to a great work environment.

At home, having effective communication skills will help you achieve the type of relationship you want with your spouse.

You are able to speak freely and openly about your feelings. You can share your wants and needs in a manner that your spouse understands. Your spouse will feel understood and supported by you which is a wonderful feeling to have. And being able to have a disagreement and work through it due to strong communication skills is amazing.

Look at how you can master effective communication skills at work and home to help create more satisfying relationships in all phases of your life.

More Resources About Work Communication

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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