“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”
Fear is a normal human reaction that helps to protect us. It alerts and prepares us to deal with approaching danger. When we sense danger the body physically responds by increasing our heart beat, increasing our blood pressure and we also experience rapid breathing. When we are in real danger the body also physically prepares us to do one of two things – To Fight danger or Flee from danger. The body will stay in this state until the brain signals that there is no more danger.
Fear is a good thing to feel.
It sets us up for the adventure and it also prepares us to be cautious. The problem isn’t the fear, the problem is us and our reaction to the feeling of fear. When we are afraid to step out of our comfort zone, to follow our dreams, to confront bullies or to stand in our power, we don’t fight the fear, instead ,we flee or we hide. We don’t use it to excite us, stimulate us, or to move us forward in life. We let fear control our lives and paralyse us. When we are reacting to fear in this way we are choosing to make decisions that are not serving us well. As John Lennon said in his quote, if we are controlled by fear we pull back from life – mediocrity and complacency become acceptable in our lives. The key to overcoming our fears is to learn to love ourselves more – even with our imperfections.
“You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so. For remember, fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.”
– Dale Carnegie
I am proud to say that I am pretty close to being Fearless when it comes to me following my dream, stepping out of my comfort zone and dealing with life’s challenges . For many years I had been too fearful to step out, to be courageous and follow my dream. I had made attempts, some were successful and some were not. In my career particularly I could never get to a place in any of my jobs where I was happy. I would take on roles because I felt like I had to, or the money was good, or the job was easy, and as a result I drifted through my career doing the roles I could do rather than doing what I wanted to do.Advertising
The turning point for me was last year when I had to face my third redundancy in 18 months. It was then that I decided that I didn’t want to be afraid anymore. I chose to face my fears and then I worked out how I was going to manage them. Today as I write this I can honestly say that my big fears no longer mean anything to me – I do however have a few minor ones lurking around. You never really stop being fearful, you just learn how to proactively manage your fears so that they enhance, energise and motivate you to action.
The 6 Steps to Mastering Your Fear
“Fear is a habit, so is self pity, defeat, anxiety, despair, hopelessness and resignation. You can eliminate all of these negative habits with two simple resolves: I can and I will.”
– Napoleon Hill
To master my fears I used the advice of 6 Fearless people who knew what they were talking about. Hopefully these 6 tips will help you to master you fears, so that you can live the life you desire.
Before you start reading through these 6 tips please note that Acknowledging your fears is the easy part – mastering your fears is hard work and it is a life long journey.
1. Get comfortable with Fear and invite it into your life.
Do things that frighten you. Take action and face your fears – the more you do this the more confident and stronger you become.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by each experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
2. Learn that Fear is only in our minds.
Fear is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. We can control our fears – they don’t control us. When you start to feel afraid, acknowledge the fear, feel it and then ask yourself “what is the worst thing that could happen to me if I did it?” Is the worst that could happen as bad as what you imagine it will be? It is ok to feel afraid and scared – it is not ok to let the fear control our minds.
“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.”
– Lucius Annaeus Seneca
3. Get to know your 3 Big Fears.
There are 3 Big Fears which are the source of all your fears. Write your 3 Big Fears down and then put a plan in place on how you will deal with them one by one until you feel you are in control. You need to know what you are dealing with so that you can take one step at a time.Be realistic about confronting your fears. Its a life long journey so you don’t have to rush it. You just have to keep moving forward in your life.
“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”
– Judy Blume
4. Focus on the Positives’ in Your Life.
Get yourself a journal and every day for 1 month write down:
- 1 positive thing that happened to you today
- 1 thing you are grateful for in your life today
- 1 good deed that you did today where you helped someone.
At the end of the month read your journal and then write down the top 3 things that month that you feel positive about, the top 3 things that you are grateful for and the top 3 deeds that you have done where you have helped someone. If you can complete that exercise I guarantee you will start to feel more positive and you will also see a more positive picture of your future. Not one bit of fear insight.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style.”
– Maya Angelou
5. Be prepared for hard times and for failure.
It’s a life long journey managing your fears. Learn from other fearless people about how you can be more resilient and where you can find your courage. Resilience and courage will give you the strength and determination to master your fears.
“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”
– Vincent Van Gough
6. Plan to Be Great.
Having a plan of action will mean that you won’t fall into the trap of giving too much time, energy or attention to fear. Be accountable and start to work toward getting results. In your Plan to be Great you need to be real about yourself and about what action steps you will need to take toward achieving your dreams. You will need to calculate, minimise and manage the level of risk – this is essential to the success of your plan. The last and the most important thing to be noted in your plan is that you are accountable for celebrating your victories. The past and the present victories need to be recorded in a journal, shared and celebrated. Please don’t forget to Celebrate because if you do forget you will find your fears will start to appear more regularly in your daily thoughts.
Become comfortable with your fears, embrace your fears and start learning how to be a master at managing your fears. Once you manage your fears then you will accomplish feats in your life that you would have thought impossible. You will find that you will be living your greatest and happiest moments when you push through the barriers of fear. Why would you not want to Master Your Fears if you know how great the rewards are?
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination. It is our light more than our darkness which scares us. We ask ourselves – who am I to be brilliant, beautiful, talented, and fabulous. But honestly, who are you to not be so?”
– Marianne Williamson
Featured photo credit: imgix via unsplash.imgix.net
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