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How Not to Be Boring (And Start to Be More Interesting)

How Not to Be Boring (And Start to Be More Interesting)

Humans are creatures of habit. We love to establish a routine and stick with it. Then we often put ourselves on auto-pilot.

Routines can be incredibly useful in helping you get things done. However, too much of a routine can also make you incredibly boring.

Nevertheless, many people live lives that are boringly predictable, or live a life where everything is outlined or planned.

Well guess what? Life doesn’t always work out the way you plan it. You must be able to go with the flow regardless of whether you have a plan or not. My life is not even close to what I thought it would be like a year ago. How could I have known what was going to happen? How can you?

So, how not to be boring and start to be more interesting?

Face your fear of uncertainties and start to be more spontaneous. And in this article, I will show you how.

1. Create an Environment That Fosters Spontaneity

It’s scary to let go of your plans because then, you are inviting all kinds of uncertainty into your life. In fact, fear is the root of most spontaneity problems. By conquering those fears, you can become less dependent on your plans and live a far more interesting life.

Ask Your Friends If You Are Too Predictable

Ask your friends if you are too predictable. It might be awkward to ask, but listen to them closely for the answer.

The people who know you well are in a better position to give you this information, and they might see some areas where you can improve that you might not consider yourself.

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Let Go of Limiting Beliefs

During your life, you have picked up beliefs that may hold you back. If you think it is “weird” to talk to a stranger, or that you’ll mess up if you try to do something differently, you have a limiting belief.

Find these beliefs and then remove them. These guides will help:

Look at the World Through a Child’s Eyes

Children are endlessly curious, and you should be too. You may have much more in the way of experience than a 5-year-old child, but there is still a lot of stuff that you don’t know too.

The only way to develop new insights is by trying new things regularly, much like a child who thrusts himself into the unknown.

Reduce Time-Wasters

Things like TV and mindless Internet surfing eat up huge chunks of your time. They give you an excuse to be lazy instead of spontaneous.

When you don’t rely on these crutches, it becomes much easier to act more carefree.

Stop Waiting for the Perfect Time

Stop waiting for the perfect time for spontaneity to take hold. If there is something that you want to do, the best time to do it is now.

For example, if it’s raining and you want to dance, don’t let the presence of other people stop you. The rain may have stopped by then!

2. Start Acting Spontaneously Now

Becoming a spontaneous person is not easy, especially if you’ve been conditioned to be a boring person for many years. But you can change if that’s your wish.

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This section contains a progressive set of exercises to gradually turn you into a more spontaneous individual. If you can follow through on these steps consistently, you can add more joy and interest to your life.

Get up and Dance, Right Now!

I know it’s silly, but get up and dance. In fact, do it right now.

As it takes some practice to become more spontaneous, now is a good time to begin. So, play some tunes and get up and boogie down! What’s the worst that can happen?

Add a “Twist” to Normal Activities

Normally, I do my writing while sitting on my couch. But, every once in a while, I like to spice things up and go to a local cafe.

Maybe you go for a morning jog along the same route every day. Tomorrow, try taking a detour instead of continuing straight ahead. You may be surprised by what happens.

Go Explore a New Location

You probably don’t have to go too far from where you live currently to find a street you’ve never walked, a town you haven’t explored, or a trail you haven’t hiked.

Check out a new place and see what you have been missing.

Use Randomness

When I find myself in a situation where I can’t make up my mind, I randomly decide.

For instance, I used to sit and debate with myself about which of three movies I wanted to watch. Now I just use a random number generator and arrive at a satisfactory answer within seconds.

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Flipping a coin or using a random number generator is very easy. It gets you in the habit of coming to a decision much more quickly.

Try a New Hobby, Activity or Class etc.

Choose an activity that has always interested you but you haven’t tried, and another pursuit that has never interested you. Locate classes that are being offered on each of your two choices and sign up for them.

Enjoying activities that you like as well as pursuing hobbies you wouldn’t expect to like makes life just that much more exciting.

Say “Yes” More Often

If your friend invites you to a party that you normally wouldn’t attend, make yourself go.

Start taking advantage of the social possibilities that are placed before you. By stepping out of your comfort zone, you’ll also become more spontaneous.

Do Something Without Thinking

If you get a random (non-destructive) impulse, act on it fast. Don’t think about it too long. Otherwise, you’ll second guess yourself.

Commit yourself to the activity even if you are hesitating. Got an urge to break out into song? After you reflexively, dismiss the urge, commit to singing the lyrics and follow through on it.

Talk to Strangers

Does somebody look interesting to you? Go up to them and start a conversation. I know this can be extremely difficult. Nevertheless, go ahead and take a step in their direction.

It’s not as “scary” as introducing yourself or initiating a conversation, but it does help build the momentum. In fact, I often start talking to someone who interests me once I take that first step.

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If you need a little help, here it is: How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Do Things That Scare You

Being spontaneous involves regularly stepping out of your comfort zone. So, act and move ahead in spite of your fears. I used to be afraid of heights, but one of my friends and I decided to buy a Groupon to go skydiving. Guess what? I faced my fear and it melted away after I made that leap.

A Little Spontaneity Makes You Less Boring!

Becoming more spontaneous doesn’t mean putting an end to long-term thinking or planning.

Ideally, you should be able to create a plan, execute it, and then deviate from it whenever you wish. Planning is not the enemy. Instead, the culprit is fear.

Begin living a life where fear does not hold you back. You’ll soon get into the habit of becoming more interesting and less boring.

Don’t miss the following articles if you want to live your best life:

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

Michael Davidson

Michael teaches English in Israel while blogging about how to live a happier and healthier life.

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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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