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Improve Your Self Esteem in 5 Steps

Improve Your Self Esteem in 5 Steps

Most of us struggle with poor self esteem in one way or another. Perhaps you’re too hard on yourself at work, or you struggle to strike out in new social situations. Healthy self esteem is vital to our development, our ability to take on challenges and our ability to make new relationships. Try these five simple steps to give your self esteem a much-needed boost.

1. Practice positive affirmations

Have you listened to your inner voice lately? What do you say to yourself? Are your words positive and full of encouragement, or are they harsh and loaded with criticism? Take some time to listen to the things you say to yourself. Those with low self esteem often report that they frequently tell themselves they are stupid when they make a mistake or that the challenge they are facing is going to be a disaster. Don’t be your own worst enemy! Confront negative self-talk and practice positive affirmations. It may feel uncomfortable at first but there’s nothing wrong with giving yourself praise. Stand tall, in front of a mirror, and recite positive statements about yourself, such as: “I am a great person”, “I can handle this challenge” or “I make a positive impact in my friends’ lives”. Over time you’ll begin to quiet the damaging side of your inner voice and embrace the positive affirmations that you are hearing.

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2. Acknowledge the things you are good at

Every single person is good at something. We’re taught, from a young age, to dismiss our talents for the sake of humility but that can lead to us being overly critical of ourselves or forming a negative self image. Certain life situations, such as applying for a new job, require us to mention our strong points. Don’t wait until the night before the interview to start connecting with your strengths. Acknowledge your abilities, aloud or to yourself, and don’t be tempted to follow each statement with a disclaimer or rebuttal. Again, listen to your self talk and the way that you refer to yourself in front of others. There is nothing wrong with saying, “Actually, I am good at that” or “This is one of my best features”.

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3. Celebrate the small wins (as well as the big ones!)

Society and the media love to focus on extremes–self-made millionaires, Olympic athletes, miraculous medical cures. But for most of us, these things will never happen and we learn to see ourselves as lesser than others who experience these unusually explosive achievements. Take some time to be think about your own wins in a realistic fashion. What have you accomplished recently? What made you feel good? By giving yourself positive reinforcement for everything you do, you’re challenging the idea that you won’t be successful/valuable/worthy until you achieve a certain (possibly unattainable) target. That’s not to say we can’t aim for bigger, better things but if we only focus on the enormous goals, we’re going to miss everything along the way. Focus on what’s real for you right now, don’t put off celebrating for the sake of achievements that may never come to fruition.

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4. Value yourself unconditionally

We’re all programmed to place conditions on our self worth. “I’m a valuable person because I…” We define success by fixed outcomes, like wealth, career progression or public acknowledgement. This is a disastrous move as it implies that we are nothing without certain accomplishments. Every person has value. Make a commitment to changing your attitude towards your self worth. Your worldly achievements are worth celebrating, but they do not define you. Recognise that you are valuable just as you are–simply for being you.

5. Accept compliments

How many times have you offered someone a compliment, only for them to say, “Oh no, you’re too kind” or “Oh that? It was nothing”? It’s the social norm to reject compliments, as accepting them can be considered cocky or self-obsessed. This is such a strange social construct; compliments given in ernest are meant to make us feel appreciated. What’s more, rejecting them feeds a message to our self conscious that we’re undeserving of compliments, or that praise doesn’t apply to us. I say, buck this strange trend and start graciously accepting compliments. You don’t need to say any more than, “Thank you,” if that’s all you feel comfortable with, but even the simplest acknowledgement will start to work on your self esteem.

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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

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