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Risk and Win! 10 Things to Nudge You Out of Your Comfort Zone!

Risk and Win! 10 Things to Nudge You Out of Your Comfort Zone!

Same ol’, same ol’…get up, go to work, get home, handle dinner and get ready to go to bed so you can get up and do the same thing again.

And yet some people don’t do that. They live exciting lives filled with new experiences and exciting things to look forward to. They jet off to different places and you never know what they might be doing next.

How did these people escape the daily grind? How did they get so lucky?

There is a secret…wanna hear it?

The secret is discomfort. That’s right discomfort and the tolerance thereof. Because the actual truth of the matter is that if you never step out of your comfortable routine, your life doesn’t change for the better.

Now I don’t recommend that you simply go out and make yourself uncomfortable simply to be uncomfortable. It is not the discomfort that makes one successful but the willingness to experience discomfort in the process of creating something altogether new.

Let’s call it “Focused Discomfort”; Discomfort as a byproduct of taking calculated risks and doing something amazing.

Now before you go out and immerse yourself in random discomfort, let’s take a look at certain focused discomforts that you should be revelling in:

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1) Commit yourself

That is some serious discomfort! It takes guts to really commit to a course of action. It takes a certain confidence that you will overcome any obstacle to completing the thing you set out to do. But if you don’t commit to anything, you drift along like an idle tide not really knowing what to do or where to go.

Success in life depends on commitment to many courses of action and the persistence to see them through. If you want to make it really exciting, brag about how great you are at whatever it is you have committed yourself to. I can guarantee some sleepless nights, but who knows what you might pull off!

2) Risk being rejected

I have another secret for you. If you reach out to someone with a genuine desire to be friendly and you are rebuffed, it has nothing to do with you unless you are really creepy, and I am doubting that you are.

If you have a sincere desire to make someone’s life better by interacting and they rebuff you, they are a pretty unhappy person. Ignore the rebuff and go reach out to someone else. There are a lot more people who will accept you than will rebuff you, and those who rebuff you aren’t worth losing sleep over.

3) Risk starting your own venture

Wow! When you think about it, you can start anything you want! You can start a choir, a movie group, an ice cream store, a bakery! The list is endless!

It is a big undertaking and there is risk, but risk is mitigated by knowledge. The more knowledge you have about the venture you are creating, the less risk there is.

Starting a new venture is always occasioned by some discomfort, but there are also highs that you can only experience by doing it. The creation of something new and wonderful is a huge high point in life. Don’t deny yourself, but do educate yourself before making a leap.

4) Risk going after your dreams

I am betting that there is at least one person out there making money doing what you dream of doing. If this is the case, then why aren’t YOU doing it? Is it because someone told you that it was not a “safe” profession, that it was not “stable” financially? Well, I have news. Nothing is safe and nothing is stable.  So you may as well do something you love.

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When you have a passion for something, you get really good at it. And if even one person is making money doing it, that means that other people are willing to pay for it. If people are willing to pay for it, you can make money doing it. You just have to figure out how. The best way to do that is to talk to those who have and do what they did.

One example of this is music. You hear music everywhere at all hours of the day or night and yet, if you wanted to leave your job and be a musician, you would likely hear that it is a poor choice and that you can’t make money doing it.

Well, someone is making money from it because it is everywhere. You can, too!

5) Close your ears to what people say

People say all kinds of useless junk. A lot of it makes so little sense that you wonder how anyone in their right mind can talk about of their rear ends like that.

Every single course of action you are going to take, if you told everyone you knew about it, would generate nays from naysayers no matter what it was.

The bottom line is that no one knows your capabilities, creativity and your drive more than you do. You know what you are doing. When naysayers pop up naying, nod your head and keep going. They shut up after they see that you are doing it.

My friend Sally Nutter and I started a radio show. We were amazed at the amount of negativity we received in the first few weeks, but, after we kept at it for a few months, everyone shut up. We now have tons of listeners and get new ones every week. If we gave up at the first sign of negativity, we would not be having the fun we are having right now and it is great fun!

6) Do things you cannot do

I don’t know about anyone else, but I work best under pressure.  I can do anything if I have committed to it. This includes learning something really fast so that I can do it. I have committed to stuff that I have never done before simply because I wanted to do it.

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Many years ago, I taught myself to play the cello. Weirdly and somewhat randomly, some people from the local symphony were walking by and heard me practicing. They asked me right then to play with the symphony for the next season.

I had played violin in orchestras, but never the cello. And I had only been sawing away on the cello for about four months.  “How hard can it be?” I thought. Well, after I printed out the music, I saw exactly how hard it was going to be. I freaked out but then I spent many hours a day working on it and listening to different versions of it over and over again until I knew the music by heart.

Now that was really hard and I will not lightly commit to that again (Or maybe I will!) but guess what? I now play the cello in the symphony. If I had not been such a dork and accepted, I might still be practicing to someday join the symphony.

7) Try learning something completely new

Oh yeah! and then there was the time I took up snowboarding at an advanced age. I had been watching these kids whipping up and down the slopes on their snowboards and I really wanted to do it, too. I spent the whole morning falling, getting up and mostly rolling around like a turtle on its back. Later that day I took a snowboarding class and honestly I don’t think I got any better.

I made it through the day and was completely exhausted. Later that evening I have never been so sore in all my life. After that experience I decided that snowboarding was not going to be one of my new passions. I could have learned it and gotten good at it but honestly I didn’t really care to.

At least now I know that this is not something I love and can put my attention on something else.

8) Lose your heart

I have done this many times. I lose my heart to my students and immediately to people I meet. Most of all I lose my heart when I go visit the animal shelter. I never fail to come home with a new little dog in my arms. I have three now and I love them all.

We are put here on this earth to love each other and to lose our hearts to each other. If we have lost that ability, it just means that we have been hurt a lot. But oddly, losing your heart is the thing that heals you.

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Don’t hold back your affinity. The world needs it and you will be amazed at how rich life is when you love with everything you have.

9) Eat something unusual

I have one rule with regard to food items or those things disguised as food items.

RULE ONE: I never eat anything that I would not willingly step on in my bare feet.

Beyond that everything is fair game! This little rule gets me out of the awkward, “Oh here we are in France, we must try snails!” moment.

Just because someone, at some particularly low period in history ate something strange and then dipped it in garlic butter and called it a delicacy, does not mean that I have to eat it when I am there.

The bottom of my shoe tastes great when dipped in garlic butter, as does a paper towel or anything that has the capacity to soak up garlic butter. Give me some bread. I will happily step on that in bare feet unless it is toasted and carved into a particularly pointy shape. Even then I can do it carefully. Snails? Nope, not even a little bit!

10) Quit thinking up junk to worry about!

I know, we feel better when we worry! at least we know we are alert to possible dangers; but how would it feel to stop worrying just for a moment? Dare we try it? Go ahead, tell yourself it’s all good. I think you could get used to it.

My dad was an engineer, a PHD in fluid dynamics, which is the science of seeing how air flows over airplane wings. He designed aircraft. I flew with him once and he was a nervous wreck. He was convinced that it was only his white knuckles pulling upward on the arm rests that was keeping the plane in the air.

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Our worry is not what keeps bad things from happening. It only keeps happiness from happening. Little by little we should just let go. I will if you will! Close your eyes and do it!

Good Luck!

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Chris Ellis

Successful Author, Life Coach and Musician

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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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