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What Happened to Me When I Let Go of My Fear of Being Alone

What Happened to Me When I Let Go of My Fear of Being Alone

Having a fear of being alone isn’t fun. What will you do when you have to make decisions all by yourself? How will you occupy yourself without somebody to talk to? These questions and concerns run though your head while your heart pounds. The thought of going to a movie without a friend is enough to make some people tremble. I used to be one of them. Now I know it isn’t so bad. When I let go of my fear of being alone, these four things happened.

1. I learned interesting things about myself

“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” –J.K. Rowling

This might sound crazy, but you don’t have as much free will as you think you do. Almost half of your decisions are directly influenced by subconscious programing—stuff you don’t even realize you’re doing.

According to Duke University, 40% of your daily actions are not based on logic or reason. Instead, they are habits that you perform without thought-process. Knowing that, how do you propose to understand yourself if you never take the time to pause and reflect?

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Most people stagger through life like mindless automatons, because they never stop to consider what causes their behavior. As a result, they can’t change their behavior for the better. Practicing meditation and keeping a private journal helped me dig deep enough to locate the roots that were responsible for my habits. I learned how to be more compassionate with myself, cope with self-defeating beliefs, and leverage my personal strengths for more success.

2. I became more confident in my personality

“If you make friends with yourself you will never be alone.” —Maxwell Maltz

Don’t you think weekends might be more enjoyable if you weren’t 100% dependent on other people? It’s amazing how so many folks feel like they can’t do something fun unless a friend tags along.

I remember when I used to feel that way in college. Ironically, due of my fear of being alone, I spent a lot of Saturday nights locked in my dorm room feeling sad, because I really wanted to go see a movie or a play or a concert, but no one else was available to go. I didn’t want to go out all by myself, because I thought I would look like a loser.

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Eventually, I realized my dependence on other people was completely unhealthy, so I decided it was time to get over it. I began my healing process by going to a coffee shop on my own. I took a book, which was a crutch (I was convinced people would stare at me, so it was nice to have a place to avert my gaze). But it helped me ease into it. It took me a while to get comfortable enough to interact with strangers, but now I can, and I became more confident in the process.

3. I realized conformity is nothing to be proud of

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” —John F. Kennedy

Have you ever thought you were in a room by yourself, and decided to burst out in song or do a silly dance? Then you realized you actually weren’t alone (OMG someone saw the whole thing!), and you felt so embarrassed that you wished you could disappear?

If so, then you should know how tempting it is to conform due to a fear of judgment. People cannot be trusted to share their true selves when they are being watched. You want people to like you and you sure as hell don’t want to be criticized, so you’ll subconsciously censor yourself in a misguided effort to fit in.

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Apply this thinking to the Internet. If your public behavior is influenced by the presence of others, don’t you think your online behavior might be influenced by the prospect of an All Seeing Eye monitoring your email and social media activity? You better believe it is. Try to catch yourself in the act of self-censorship if you don’t believe me. This is why I roll my eyes when people say online privacy doesn’t matter. Be yourself. If a person can’t accept you, they don’t deserve you.

4. I changed into a happier, more productive person

“I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.” —Audrey Hepburn

You know what’s funny? I’m an introvert, but I didn’t even know it until I was over 20 years old. My past desire to conform made me think I was “supposed to” hang out with other people after school or work, but spending time alone taught me that I didn’t really enjoy that at all.

Don’t misread me. I believe friendship is very important. We all need at least one like-minded friend who is worthy of our trust. It’s hard to deal with life’s down moments without a person to talk to. But that doesn’t mean you need to hang out with your friends at a bar or restaurant every single evening. That sounds exhausting (not to mention expensive)!

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Being alone rejuvenates me in a way that is hard to explain. I call the apartment I live in my “fortress of solitude.” I have grown to love living alone so much that I’m not sure I would trade it for anything. I can wake up, turn on some classical music, work without interruption, and get so lost in writing that I lose track of time. I can grab a good book, snuggle up with my dog, and read in silence. It’s nice to have company sometimes, but I am a lot happier when that is the exception, not the norm.

Being alone is nothing to fear.

Remember: this is all coming from a guy who used to have a fear of being alone. Give it a chance if you doubt me. It might change your life. If you have any friends who might share that fear, go ahead and send them here for some inspiration!

Featured photo credit: Girl Looking at Landscape Nature/Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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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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