“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
– Steve Jobs
We all want to find our destiny; but how do we know when we have strayed from the true path we are meant to be on? Each of us is born with our own talents and gifts and strengths—unique energies that need an outlet. What is right for one person will not be right for others. So how do we know if we have lost our way?
Well, there are some tell-tale signs. Here’s 8 of them.
1. You’re a -holic.
Are you drinking too much, eating too much, perhaps even training too hard or working too hard? When our lives are out of balance, they veer towards our greatest weakness. If you’re doing anything in excess, then you know you’re off track.Advertising
Being a workaholic is a great excuse for most of us; we can tell ourselves we’re getting somewhere but we’re actually keeping ourselves too busy to notice the real issues. It’s a sure sign that we’ve buried ourselves in things that seem important to hide from the things that really are.
2. Everything is going wrong.
It’s a strange thing about life, but when you’re heading in the right direction, you always get the inside track. Everything flows. Life seems so easy.
But step off the path and even the little things will go wrong; you drop your cellphone in the ornamental fountain; stoplights always turn red; you get parking tickets.
Is it just one thing after another? Maybe life is not out to get you.
Perhaps life is trying to warn you.Advertising
3. You are always getting sick.
Our body is an extension of our thoughts, especially our subconscious ones. If you’re getting sick all the time, your innermost self is trying to tell you that you have lost your way. This is one of the last signs, so try to catch your thoughts and feelings before they get to your physical cells.
4. Your house is too tidy.
Or maybe just too cluttered. Either way there is no balance; it looks compulsively neat or like the morning after an orgy at a frat house. Extremes are an extremely bad sign. Take a look around. What is your apartment saying to you?
Because you might not like the answers you come up with. Are you in the right job? Should you leave your current relationship, because it’s not really that fulfilling? If you habitually avoid such questions because they make you feel uncomfortable then you are likely way off track. Most often we are afraid of the answers, because they could lead us to tough choices we don’t want to make. Why? That’s the sixth sign.
6. You are afraid of being afraid.
You’re afraid to end your current relationship because you think there might not be anything better—even though this one is pretty ordinary; you won’t leave your dead end job to chase down your dream because you’re afraid of failing. It takes real courage to change.
We are all afraid of change, of uncertainty. What if our inner voice asks us to turn our whole life upside down? We don’t want to listen. We make ourselves as busy as possible, so we never have time on our own when we may have to listen to what our spirit is telling us.Advertising
7. You feel comfortable.
Comfort zones are not always pleasant places to be; they are just familiar. Your comfort zone may be a job that pays the bills to keep you in a life that you hate; it may be a relationship that is going nowhere but is too safe to leave; it may be physical place, a hometown that you won’t leave because of family and friends even though your dreams won’t ever happen if you stay.
The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth. If you never feel uncomfortable, that’s not a good sign. Life is a journey, not a destination.
8. You are afraid to let go.
Letting go is the hardest part of moving forward. Barnacles hold on to what is safe and disdain the current; but they never choose where they are going to end up.
The past provides us with excuses for failure, so there is always a powerful incentive to hold on. It can also mean that you may have to forgive someone in order to let go, perhaps even forgiving someone who doesn’t deserve to be forgiven. But do it for you, not for them.
So if you’ve lost the way, how do you find your way back?Advertising
The most important thing is not doing, but listening.
Take time out to listen to yourself. Shut down the clutter. The best guide you have is what is inside you. If you have a gnawing feeling in your gut that you have lost your way, listen to it. It doesn’t matter if what it tells you seems illogical, or if other people will disapprove. This is your life, and you’re the only one who knows if you are living it.
Listen to the inner voice, that nagging feeling in your gut that tells you you’re on the wrong path. And when it speaks to you don’t judge, don’t say that’s impossible, don’t say my family will never let me do that—just be curious about what is there.
As Steve Job says, time is limited. It’s the one thing that doesn’t appreciate over time, the one thing no one is making more of. You don’t have time to wander off into the woods. If you have any of these signs, it’s time to check in with yourself.
And if it means taking a path less traveled by, then do it. It’s perhaps what life has been trying to tell you to do after all.
Featured photo credit: Highways Agency via Wikipedia
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