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Last Updated on April 26, 2018

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 predicatable, 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.

In this article, I will show you how.

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.

1. 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.

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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.

2. 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:

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

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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!

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.

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.

1. 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?

2. 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.

3. 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.

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

4. 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.

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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

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7. 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!

8. 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.

9. 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.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

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.

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.

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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.

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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!

1. Listen

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.

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3. Minimize

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.

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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.

Conclusion

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

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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