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This Is How You Can Become The Stronger Version Of Yourself

This Is How You Can Become The Stronger Version Of Yourself

How To Become A Better, Stronger Version Of Yourself

At the end of every year, once the festivities have passed and preparations are underway to move past the last 12 months, it is natural to start thinking about new beginnings. Resolutions are made that you intend to keep throughout the year but almost always disappear by March or April. Promises are made to stop smoking, lose weight, argue less, spend less, save more and the list goes on. However, if you make one promise, whatever the time of year, make it ‘to be a better version of myself’.

Changing your outlook, your perceptions and your goals can have a huge impact on your life. Not only on your life, but the lives of those around you too. If you want to stop snapping at people, enjoy more time to do the things you enjoy and box off numerous other resolutions like losing weight and spending less money, then ultimately the changes have to be within yourself.

So where to begin? Below are some hints of where you can start the process but the list is not exhaustive, it is only the beginning – feel free to add your own ideas for becoming the person you know you can be.

Eat Healthier

Okay, you knew it would be on the list so we may as well begin with it. If you’re shoving stodge into your digestive system every day then you’re going to feel sluggish, lethargic and shattered. How easy do you think it is to be the best you can be when your body is trying to process loads of junk food?

It’s time to admit to yourself that if you’re going to be better on the outside, you need to be better on the inside.

Our bodies are not designed to cope with man-made substances and chemicals that are used to process and store food. Although convenient, tinned food and ready-made things have been through so much processing to keep them fresher for longer. Our bodies struggle to digest it all and the food gets trapped in our systems for longer than it should, causing bloating, gas, nausea, headaches and mood swings. Do you really want to put that stuff in your body?

You can have a very fulfilling diet and do your body a huge favor too. Choose from whole foods such as nuts and seeds, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, whole wheat and whole grain bread and pasta, seafood, organic meat and natural sweeteners such as honey or stevia.

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Your water intake is also incredibly important. Make sure you’re flushing your toxins out daily by drinking at least 8 glasses (or two liters) of water each day. This will keep your head clear, your skin blemish free and your kidneys healthy too.

Simplify Your Life

You know that when there’s a million and one things that you need to get done and you’re surrounded by clutter, you’re unable to focus on what actually needs doing. In the end nothing at all gets done and you face the same problem the following day, and then the day after that. You’ve probably been meaning to sort things out for ages, right? Well, well stop procrastinating! Write down everything you need to get done and then highlight your top ten tasks. Write these items on a separate list and do the same again but this time highlight your top five. Write these on a separate sheet of paper – these are the only tasks you need to focus on today.

Also, get a big bag and choose one corner of one room. Put things in it that you don’t use, don’t like or don’t want. Next, put things that do not belong in that corner in a box to sort later. Do this every day until every corner in every room has been cleared of clutter. At the end sort through the box of items that don’t belong and find new, tidy homes for them.

When you come home each day, your whole house will be free of clutter and you won’t have a to-do list as long as your arm.

The key is to break it down into manageable chunks. Make sure you stick to this rule as it will mean you will have more time to do the things you enjoy rather than feeling frazzled all the time.

Be Grateful

It’s surprising how much of our time is being flooded with adverts for all kinds of stuff, forcing us to believe we need to have it in our lives. How many times do you think “If only I could just win the lottery” or “If I buy that then my life will be better.” Instead of always waiting for the future, appreciate what you have in the here and now. Don’t just focus on possessions. When you go to bed each night, choose something or someone to speak to in your head. It could be God or the Universe, a loved one that has passed or your inner self. Once you have someone or something in mind, think of things that your are thankful for.

Examples could be:

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“Thank you for this warm bed that I am in whilst it is blowing a gale outside. Others are not so fortunate.”

“I am grateful for my health: that I have been able to get up and leave the house today while others are bedridden with pain or ill health.”

“Thank you for keeping me safe whilst driving today. Many people are involved in accidents every day and I was lucky to get home in one piece.”

If you have family, hug them a little tighter and be grateful that they are healthy. So many are suffering the loss of a loved or are going through the heartache of seeing someone suffer day after day, so put things into perspective and stop moaning about how the traffic was bad on the way home. Save that energy for positive things and positive thoughts.

You will find that as you start thinking of all of the things you appreciate, you will feel calmer and  less likely to take your loved ones for granted, which will result in more quality time with them.

Be In Contact With Your Family

There are many quotes about being able to choose your friends yet your family is a set of people that you’re stuck with for life. Some people find they have absolutely nothing in common once they mature and form their own path in the journey of life. However, if you have a family you like, there’s nothing better than spending a nostalgic afternoon with a sibling, parent or any member of the family. You will both have the same shared experiences whether it be family holidays or gatherings, so make the most of taking a trip down memory lane and remind yourself how important family are.

It is incredibly easy to get caught up in a busy life but if you genuinely want to become a better version of yourself, then it is time to do some selfless acts of kindness.

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If you have a grandparent who is alone and stuck in the same four walls every day, go and visit them as often as you can. When you’re older, you will be grateful to people who care enough to come and visit you and relieve the boredom of living at home by yourself.

If calling home is the last thing on your mind, make sure you bring it to the top of your priority list because nothing says you care more than taking some time out of your day to call someone to see how they are.

There are vast numbers of people brimming with regret following the funeral of a family member. They know they could have made more of an effort to see them more frequently. Don’t be one of those people.

Challenge Yourself – Leave Your Comfort Zone

In order to become a better version of yourself, it is necessary to come out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. When the mind is stretched a little, you will feel a buzz of excitement. There’s nothing like a little fear to wake up your senses.

There are so many skills to be learned in the world. Why not learn a new one? Perhaps learn a new language or start playing an instrument. It will be difficult at first but it will keep your mind focused.

Exercising your brain by learning new things will also improve your concentration skills and help you to sleep better, so choose something to sink your teeth into and leave your comfort zone behind for a while.

Set Clear Goals

Hectic lives mean things get overlooked or purposefully ignored, leading you to feeling useless and angry. It is very important that you have clear goals that you can see every day, so write them down and hang them in a room in your house that you go into often – maybe the kitchen or the bathroom.

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Your goals could be anything from “Purchase a sports car” to “Clean out the cupboard under the stairs.”

If you like you can set a time limit by which you want to achieve your goal by. It could be within a matter of days or it could be a particular age that you want to be, e.g. “Buy a sports car, age 50”

Next, write down the steps you need to take in order to reach that goal. So if it is purchasing a sports car when you’re 50 years old, work out how many months away that is and how much money you would need to save each month. Make a chart with a picture of the sports car at the top and boxes to represent each month you need to save money. When you save, tick a box and you will see your goal is getting nearer.

If your goal is more short term, like cleaning the cupboard out under the stairs, give yourself a little reward when you have accomplished your goal. Promise yourself little treats and you will be motivated to reach all of your goals sooner than you think.

Be Assertive

If you’re used to never voicing your opinion or saying what you are thinking, it’s time to make some changes. Studies have shown that assertive people are happier, healthier and have better relationships.

Make sure your body posture is helps you feel confident. Sit upright and raise your chin off your chest. Don’t mumble; say whatever you want politely and respectfully but loud enough to sound sure of yourself. Believe that you have a voice which should be heard. Don’t be afraid to say “No”. If you are up to your eyes in work and your boss asks you to to take on more, confidently say, “If I take any more work on, the quality of what I produce will be compromised, so it is best that the extra work is delegated to someone else at this moment.” In most cases your boss will appreciate your honesty and do as you suggest.

Thanks for reading and good luck for your journey ahead of becoming a better version of yourself.

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Carles Sabarich

Carles aspires to encourage people to live actively and take charge of their lives.

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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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