“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” –attributed to the Dalai Lama XIV
Bzzzzzzz. We all know this sound. We all know the nightmares and suffering it can produce during our much-needed and desired sleep. We all know when this creature is approaching. Its revealing buzz, simply unstoppable and greatly feared by us. This amazing little creature is even more amazing than we think. Its simplicity can teach us more than what we could ever have imagined…
“It is very hard to be brave,” said Piglet, sniffing slightly, “when you’re only a Very Small Animal.”
Rabbit, who had begun to write very busily, looked up and said: “It is because you are a very small animal that you will be Useful in the adventure before us.”
–Benjamin Hoff, The Te Of Piglet
1. Never Give Up
What a cliché. Never give up. It is one of those life tips that we find in almost every life guide. Far from being useless, it is surely a must. Mosquitoes get this idea pretty well. They can simply pass all night trying to get into our ear, or trying to suck all of our blood. If a pea-sized creature can give its maximum effort, why can’t we? We should at least be able to put up with a mosquito. We can always go farther, and when it comes to our dreams and passions, never giving up is the key to achieving these.Advertising
Never forget that refusing to give up is a way of seeing life. It is about learning that, even though life is supposed to flow, part of this beautiful experience is building the momentum and going for it! Just as Thomas A. Edison said, “Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won’t work”.
2. Don’t Underestimate
We tend to underestimate things for their appearance. Size, for example, is one of those misleading qualities. We might think that because something or someone is small, it is powerless and inferior, like an ant or a mosquito. Did you know that an ant can hold more than 100 times its own weight? Or that mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on the planet?
Underestimating someone’s abilities because of their appearance is just insanely misleading and counterproductive. Like the example of the ant and the mosquito, we find countless instances of underestimation in life, such as underestimating the ability of your mom to help you with your love problems. If we want to flow in life, we should acknowledge people for their inner qualities and not for their exterior appearance or the first impression they give. Just as Toba Beta said: “Don’t belittle anyone who you don’t recognize. Don’t be fooled by anybody who underrates you”.
Ultimately, there will be times when we can´t beat the mosquitoes. Sometimes they are just too fast and somehow too powerful. It is a fight between the mosquito and our will for sleeping. It is then we have to learn to accept, which is one of the only ways to really win over mosquitoes, or to manage life’s casualties without painful attachments.Advertising
Accepting is one of Buddha´s life lessons, which certainly give us the key for flowing in life and managing life’s craziness. It is easier to flow with the water current than to resist it. Accepting is learning to let go, to be with the experience and don’t fight it. Sometimes in life we find something we call Reverse effort. As Alan Watts once wrote: “When you try to stay on the surface of the water, you sink; but when you try to sink you float. Whosoever would save his soul shall lose it”.
4. Don’t Fear Taking Risks
Mosquitoes take this too far, yet they teach us that taking a risk is worth it. For them, taking a risk is ultimately necessary, for it is one of their ways to get their food. Mosquitoes take the risk of fighting with an animal which is enormously much bigger than them. They don’t even try too hard to go all in, they just do it, and even try to get into our brains! How courageous is that?
Risk-taking is one of those much-feared things. It is totally natural, for breaking out of our comfort zone is hard and takes boldness. Yet risk-taking is certainly the best way to learn, experience, and do the undone. We humans are instinctively adventurous and committed, just like any other being. This is what has led us to thrive, evolve, and advance. Let’s go with our intuition and instinct and use our abilities to fulfill our dreams and passions. Just as Albert Einstein said: “A ship is always safe at the shore—but that is NOT what it is built for”.
We are part of this universe, this world, this reality. This is something we have forgotten. We are part of it, rather than, owners of it, which is what we usually think. Even though we might think that the former is not true, our actions say the contrary. The way we abuse the natural world, other beings, and even our own species, proves that we want to conquer rather than share and live as a whole.Advertising
Mosquitoes teach us that sharing is necessary for living, for space and resources are a need of all. Mosquitoes have equal right to live and be here. They been here longer than us, for about 170 million years already! If we learn to share not only space and resources, but love, kindness, help, food, time, and attention, our social life skills will get a boost.
Everyone loves to share with a gentle, sharing, and respectful person. And not only that, the well-being and satisfaction you feel from living interconnected with all beings and sharing with others is priceless and nameless. Just as Snoop Dogg said: “It ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none”.
6. Be Humble
Yes, we are advanced; yes, we have a lot of money; yes, we have big houses, cars, buildings, and guns. Yes, we have complex minds, prodigy pianists, violinists… Yes, a mosquito drives us insane. Yes, we can´t control the weather. Yes, we are powerless in front of an angry volcano, a furious tornado, a violent tsunami.
We are not the most powerful, nor invincible, nor infinite. We are mortal just as any other being. We are in a continuous process of evolution and thriving. Life is beautiful. We are here to coexist rather than to oppress or repress. Mosquitoes teach us this simply and easily by demonstrating to us that in a room, in the forest, or anywhere, we are almost powerless in front of them, and if we have insect repellent, we are powerful for a couple of hours just to return to our normal, ordinary, human state.Advertising
Life is much more enjoyable when we live together and share together. There is no need to show superiority over others. If we ever have the idea that we are superior and invincible, certainly life will take the task of showing us the contrary. Just as Thomas Henry Huxley said: “Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this. ”Good things come when we are open to live! Go out and live life! Listen to the mosquitoes and their wise bzzzzzzz!
Featured photo credit: Mosquitos resting on overblown flower via shutterstock.com
Last Updated on April 11, 2019
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.
Table of Contents
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
- Conflict Management Styles for Effective Communication at Work
- How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home
- How to Work with Different Communication Styles in the Office
- 13 Best Communication Books for Stronger Social Skills & Relationships
Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com