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5 Things that you will learn When You Stop Using All Social Media

5 Things that you will learn When You Stop Using All Social Media

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    For many, the thought of being cut off from their beloved social media sites may seem like a clip from a horror movie; anxiety may begin to settle in, fear of the “you-aren’t-connected” monster may be felt, and serious withdrawal symptoms may be experienced. Is it possible to live without knowing what your best friend ate for breakfast? What will you do when you go to the bathroom and there aren’t any “updates” to browse through? And how in the world will you be reminded of the millions of birthdays that you are now aware of? Some of which belong to people that you haven’t talked with in years, but that you somehow feel compelled to wish a “happy birthday” to.

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    What if, just for once in your life, you could experience and savor the quietness of your mind? Have time to gather your thoughts before letting others’ thoughts take hold of your own? What if you did have the courage to live without being “connected” and still feel that you are a part of something greater? You can.

    I left the “social media scene” in 2011 and was on sabbatical for three years. Really, no Twitter, Facebook, Reddit or any other social media for me for three whole years (except for perhaps Pinterest because of the amazing cooking recipes). Here is what I learned from that social media hiatus:

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    1. You miss it for a few weeks and then you move on

    Yes, you will feel withdrawals; you will experience separation anxiety; you will feel out of place; and you will get over it. Like any breakup, it hurts, you miss it, but you move on. The great thing about this breakup is that you have the upper-hand because you ended the relationship. Sure, Facebook will send you a million e-mails telling you to rethink the relationship, and then in a moment of bitterness it will coldly remind you that your account will be closed forever if you don’t log in within a certain period of time; and maybe you will feel compelled to go back. But don’t. Going back with an ex after a breakup is never a good idea anyway.

    2. You feel proud and excited of the newly found free time

    What will you do with all this extra time on your hands? Oh, the possibilities are endless. You can actually pick up the phone, call friends and “catch-up” like the world has done for thousands of years; through verbal communication. You can read a book and not someone else’s thoughts on it. You can wake up in the middle of the night and actually count sheep instead of obsessively refreshing your screen to see if anyone commented on your new profile picture. You will learn that the sky is the limit for your newly found free time.

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    3. You learn that the problem with your lack of time is not social media

    I don’t know how to put this kindly so I will just put it: it’s not the social media – it’s you. You don’t have time to do anything; you haven’t studied for finals, worked on your end-of-year report; written that book you’ve though about writing for the past five years; and you certainly haven’t had the time to sit quietly and be thankful for your blessings. The lack of drive for actually accomplishing what you want to do is the reason for your lack of time, not the amount of time spent on social media. The truth is that if you are busy living life to the fullest, you will know when it is time to shutdown the computer or the phone and focus on what matters without “disconnecting” yourself for good.

    4. You never over-share ever again

    After being “disconnected” for a while, plugging yourself back into the social media world can come as a shock. All of the sudden pictures that you may have been OK posting in the past seem too much for the world to see. The love and hate confessions that you once felt compelled to share with the world are definitely not something that you ever want to recreate again. You come back and are shocked to see how little vulnerability is worth these days. Somehow, during your “disconnection” time, you become wiser. You now know there is no need to over-share, you can just simply “share.”

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    5. You incorporate the word balance into your life

    Extremes are never good. Sometimes our society tends to be an all-or-nothing kind of place and the thought of balance may feel like an uphill battle. Disconnecting yourself from social media will teach you that the most fulfilling life is not one that shuts off the world or one that over-shares everything with the world. Instead, it is one where you are free to be yourself, think your thoughts, and know when to say “that’s enough for today.”

    Featured photo credit: Free for commercial use / No attribution required via pixabay.com

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    Sarita King

    motivational warrior!

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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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