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These Simple Things You Do Can Change the World But You Don’t Realize It

These Simple Things You Do Can Change the World But You Don’t Realize It

One of the easiest things to do to help change the world is to spread kindness. Yet so often we forget to take the time and, in fact, take many of our loved ones for granted. It’s important to remember to be kind because life can sometimes be terribly unkind. It can be relentless and often quite painful.

We are all put on this planet to do something with our lives, to make others happy, to help and serve others. With this in mind, perhaps it’s time to start thinking about how you can spread the gift of kindness to those around you. If we can take time out to remember to show kindness to those around us, to strangers and to animals, hopefully it will cause a knock-on effect, so that others can spread the kindness further.

I’ve come up with 20 tips to get you started so we can all change the world—one step at a time.

1. Be thankful

Saying thank you to someone because they helped you, they’ve served you in your local store or they’ve continually supported and listened to you over the years is a big deal. Taking time out to be grateful for the people in your life, your job, your home, and just being able to live and breathe is essential for living a good and happy life.

2. Become non-judgmental

When you judge people and their lives it normally means that you judge yourself just as harshly, which can make it a pretty bad habit to have. No one likes to be judged. To change the world, the less you judge others the less likely others will judge you.

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3. Helping others

If you are like me, it’s hard to ask for help from those around you. So whenever someone is in need, always remember that it was probably difficult for them to ask for your help. Go a step further than normal and offer to help before they ask. Do it with no expectation and do it with kindness.

4. Be kind to those you may otherwise take for granted

Many of us take our loved ones, specifically our partners or parents, for granted. Life is short so remember to be kind and loving to those who are always there in your life no matter what, before it’s too late and they are no longer around.

5. Remember how you felt when others have been kind to you

Take a little moment right now, sit still and really think about how it makes you feel when someone takes time out of their busy schedule to be kind to you. It feels good, doesn’t it? Now is the time to spread that kind of feeling to others. Imagine how this could change the world around us: that feeling that we all have when someone is kind to us. Amazing, right?

6. Be kind to you

To be kinder to others it’s so important to be kind to yourself to start off with. How can you be kind, loving and loyal to those around you if you can’t extend the same courtesy to yourself? So start today, write a list of three things you are thankful for about yourself and write in a journal each day to remind yourself.

7. Think of others before acting

Before you leap into a situation, or try stepping in to help someone who you think may be suffering, try to think of how they feel about the situation first. They may not want you to get involved, or your involvement could cause them embarrassment or, worse, pain. Imagine if a world leader stopped to think first about how their country felt before deciding to start a war, imagine what kind of change that could make to the world? I know that this example is extreme but you can start small. So start with thinking about others’ feelings before you act upon your own.

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8. Encourage rather than criticize

So many times we jump in to criticize someone—which often comes from our own fears and insecurities—but rarely do we encourage as our first thought. Help others see what they do as positive; this will give them a well-deserved lift to their self-esteem, encouraging them to do it more often.

9. Put the shoe on the other foot

So often we are unkind when we only see things from our own perspective. Before reacting to what someone has said or done, ask yourself this: “What would I do and feel if I were in their shoes and what in this person can I see in me?” Being mindful is important: think before you react and you’ll be surprised by the results.

10. Do unexpected things

Imagine receiving a note in your lunch box just to say, “I love you,” or, “Thank you.” How would that make you feel? Try expressing your kindness and gratitude by doing little unexpected things for your loved ones. Make them feel wonderful and you too will feel just as good simply by doing it.

11. Be there

Listen without thinking of what to say next. Be there for someone just because. Take time out to help someone to figure things out. Just be there. It’s that simple.

12. Do the little acts of kindness

We go through our daily lives existing most of the time. We rush from place to place not really acknowledging those around us. So start smiling at strangers, saying hello and thanking them for holding a door open or letting you cross the road in front of them. To change the world we need to continually do the little things every single day.

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13. Give yourself a kind gift

When was the last time you treated yourself to something special or luxurious? It doesn’t have to be something expensive; by all means treat yourself to a lovely long soak in the bath, or a nice healthy meal or a lovely long stroll along a golden beach. Whatever it is, see it as a gift to yourself.

14. Help someone practically

Whether it’s helping them with their shopping or helping them move home, helping someone out practically and not asking anything in return is both rewarding and kind. When someone offers without wanting anything back it is pretty hard to receive, but feels wonderful as the receiver. So start doing things for others, especially those who can’t get out and about like they used to.

15. Encourage positivity and kindness in others

This step isn’t about telling others what to do and how to live, it’s more about noticing when those around you do something kind and then telling them how great they were for doing it. Encourage as much as you can; many of us do things that go unnoticed, then when someone comments on it, it can make you want to do it again and again.

16. Do something for someone without them knowing

One of the biggest ways to show kindness is to do it unconditionally. Many of us do things because we’d like to get something back, and then if it’s not returned we can get resentful. So as you show kindness on a daily basis to those you love, do something kind for them without them knowing who it was. This will make them feel wonderful and help to shape their view of people in general. It will make them believe that there are people who do things without expectation.

17. Do something kind every day

Make it a habit to do something kind every single day. It can be something small, a gesture, a kind remark or a compliment. Anything at all! But make it a habit, like brushing your teeth, and do it daily.

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18. Be kind to animals

Whether you have a dog or a cat at home, or if you don’t care for animals so much, make it a choice to be kind to animals. Animals live on this planet too and have as much right to exist and share this beautiful world with us. It doesn’t matter how you show your kindness. Just don’t be cruel. Understand that animals have to survive too and that they are beautiful, magnificent creatures just like us.

19. Give to charity

When we give to a charity we are helping others fulfill their purpose in providing support in such a way that we could never possibly imagine. When there are massive disasters in other countries, many people flock to that country to help at a moment’s notice without giving it a second thought. If this isn’t you, then do your bit and give to charity to help support them in being kind across the world. What a fantastic way to change the world!

20. Be kind to your enemies

This is important, especially if we want to change the world. Whomever you perceive as your enemy, take a good hard look at them and their life. Think about what makes them your enemy and ask yourself if it’s important to hold a grudge or to continue making your life miserable by being unkind or uncaring?

Start to see things differently, think about why someone could be the way they are. Have they had a hard time? Are they perhaps insecure and full of fear, which is why they react to you in the way they do? Remember, what we usually see in someone else can be what we see in ourselves, which is why we don’t like them. Change yourself and start to be kinder and nicer to those you no longer get along with. You’ll see a huge change, and if not within them, then in you.

So how can you start to be a kinder person from today? What do you need to do more of and why? Let us know in the comments.

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More by this author

Paula Lawes

Paula loves people and connecting. She writes about communication and relationships tips on Lifehack.

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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!

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Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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