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7 Important Lessons We Learned Outside of School

7 Important Lessons We Learned Outside of School

In the Western world, there tends to be fixed and regimented ideas concerning what should be included in the national curriculum. It is only recently that these tried and tested educational subjects have been challenged, however, as both the British, American, and Australian governments look to introduce a mandatory program of financial literacy for high school students.

Given the pace of technological, scientific and social advancement, it makes sense that each country’s curriculum should change to meet the evolving needs of its subjects. This is the approach adopted by educational authorities in Hong Kong, for example, who have been teaching the principles of morality to students for more than a decade.

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Morality is typically a lesson taught outside of the classroom, with parents and guardians setting the example for children to follow in their formative years. This is just one of many topics that can be taught through life experience and the example of others, and which form the basis of our outlook and philosophy as we approach adulthood. Consider the following:

1. How to consider and care for others

Learning how to consider and care for others is one of the most important life lessons you can learn, as it enables you to enjoy satisfying and mutually beneficial friendships as you grow older. Without this, you will be perceived as selfish by your peers and ultimately fail to develop relationships, whether romantic or platonic. This is a lesson that is usually learned within individual social circles, as those who fail to consider the needs of their friends will ultimately become ostracized from the group.

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2. The art of compassion

On a similar note, it is also important to develop empathy and compassion for your fellow person. This applies to both friends and strangers, as a compassionate outlook enables you to become an excellent friend, boss, and mentor to the people who you come into contact with. This is usually learned through harsh or challenging life experiences which force us to understand the nature of emotional distress and how it impacts our philosophy and behavior. Without compassion, it is extremely difficult to evolve as a person and engage in positive adult relationships.

3. How to maintain successful relationships

Learning about compassion and understanding will undoubtedly help you to enjoy more successful relationships, although this also depends on alternative aspects of the human psyche. Developing the skills to cultivate positive relationships is a life-long pursuit, and you must remain open-minded when learning how to deal with others and adapting to accommodate their needs. Over time, your communication skills will evolve as you interact with a growing number of people from different social circles.

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4. Life is not always happy or positive

Even with the best of intentions, our personal and professional relationships can easily turn sour. The same principle can also be applied to life as a whole, as it is an unpredictable entity that is capable of delighting and disappointing in equal measure, This is a lesson that can be exceptionally hard to learn, although it is vital in terms of teaching you to manage your expectations and resolve the problems that complicate your life.

5. Perseverance is the key to a content life

Whether you are experiencing problems in your relationship, or struggling to fulfill expectations at work, perseverance remains the key to unlocking a happy and content life. It is crucial that you are proactive in appraising your problems and attempt to work through them diligently, even if this involves confronting difficult or emotive feelings. While it may be tempting to bury your head in the sand when confronted with a serious issue, life soon teaches you that this will only exacerbate your problems over time.

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    6. When to challenge authority

    There is an old adage which suggests that you should “pick your battles” in life, and this means that you must be careful and exercise discretion when challenging authority. The issue with this is that we tend to be more fearless in our youth, and will challenge anything that we deem to be unfair or contradictory to our unique sense of justice. As you grow older, you must learn from experience and consider a dispute from all possible angles before deciding to confront your boss or superior.

    7. The importance of future planning

    With the former point in mind, it is clear that the impulsiveness of youth can often deliver important life lessons for the future. One of these is the importance of forward planning, which can include everything from investing in real estate, to ensuring that you make regular contributions to a private pension plan. While such considerations are unlikely to play on your mind when you are young, it is important that you make formative plans for securing your long-term future while you still have the opportunity to influence it.

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    Last Updated on May 21, 2019

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

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