I’ve oftentimes heard people say, “What you do isn’t who you are.” To that I say,” Well it kinda is.” I understand that your job doesn’t define you because you, as a person, could “do” many things, but from my experience I’ve found that what people do for a living says much more about them than they think. One aspect in particular is their communication style. I suppose this goes hand-in-hand with their learning style as well. People within specific industries communicate a certain way, not just with others within those industries but with everyone. This can be pretty frustrating when it comes to building, maintain and sustaining relationships with people different than you.
For example, I noticed people in sales are extremely personable. They get into details, care about personalizing each conversation and they’re wonderful at bullshit. On the other end of the spectrum are engineers, they’re matter-of-fact, to-the-point and would rather have facts than fluff. Depending on who you’re asking, one style is definitely better than the other but the important thing is being able to tailor your style to those around you. It’s not beneficial to or for anyone to simply choose one communication style and stick to it because you’re neglecting to consider the handfuls of people who aren’t the exact same as you are. Being open to speaking and adapting to others will greatly increase your chances at being effective communicators .
We all need support. Whether that comes in the form of friends or family, having people that support and listen to you is one of the most essential things we need in life. They may not always say what you want to hear, but they know what needs to be said. It may not be nice or sugar-coated, but if that’s what you’re looking for I’m sure there are a handful of other acquaintances that can easily tell you what you want to hear. The older I get the more I realize the vital importance it is for us to surround ourselves with good people who genuinely have our best interest at heart. They are the ones who know your flaws, imperfections and drawbacks, but love you know matter what. They love you not in spite of or despite of any of these things. They love you because of them.
My last post was about the importance of talking about your problems with others. This is when your support system really matters. Whether it’s relationship issues, work issues, or anything in between your support system will be the ones to point you in the right direction. They give advice that may seem obvious to you, but you might not want to hear. They’re also usually the only ones who have the audacity to tell you to pipe down when you’re making a big deal out of nothing. They are the ones who you call over and over again with the same problem, knowing that they’ll always answer. What they say may be a hard pill to swallow, but you do because you know they only want what’s best.
Sometimes you just need to vent. I know there are people who are perfectly content keeping their issues to themselves, but I’ve never been one of those. At times I wish I could just keep my problems to myself and just deal with it on my own, but most of the time I realize that talking things out and discussing problems that bother me with other helps me in a million ways. Opening up to friends or family gives you insight into your problems that you may not have had. It’s cathartic. Sometimes, the more you talk about it, the better you feel. It may seem counterproductive to talk about your problems over and over, but sometimes that what you need to do to recognize what’s really wrong and that’s the key to finding a solution.
Keeping everything bottled up may seem like a good idea initially, but you can’t keep it in forever. Problems will inevitably surface and by then it may be too late to look for a solution. This is unfair to yourself and to those who may be involved. Problems don’t simply go away because they aren’t acknowledged. In the long run, it’s best to identify what the issues are, talk about it with those you trust and find a solution to improve the situation.
When I think about my best conversations they all have one thing in common: varying points of view. My favorite discussions feel more like debates, not because I enjoy yelling or arguing but because they’re with individuals who believe in something for a good reason and aren’t afraid to stand up for it. But even more so because they are capable of doing something not many people are able to do, disagree in a respectful, tasteful manner.
I love when people believe in something. I love even more when they aren’t afraid to voice these opinions even when they’re the only person who feels this way. However, I hate when people are rude, tactless and close-minded in doing so. It makes me not want to hear what they have to say and not want to be open to the possibility that they may be right or that that it even matters.
The great thing about opinions is that everyone has one, but the way they express it makes all the difference to me. When sharing differing views it’s necessary to be open-minded, responsive and aware that others may be right in their own way. Sharing your point-of-view is only half the battle and to be honest, it’s the easier half. The difficult part is piping down and listening to the other person. Listen to understand don’t listen to respond. At the end of it all, even if you don’t end up with parallel viewpoints it’s still a win/win because despite the fact that I don’t like your opinion or even agree with it, I’m thankful that you have one.
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I’ve often held a conversation with someone and when they walk away I have no recollection of what just took place. Either I’m getting old at a rapidly fast pace, or I need to work on my listening skills. I think it maybe because there’s so much noise in our day-to-day life that it’s sometimes difficult to differentiate between what’s important and what isn’t.
In order to hold substantial conversations, there needs to be at least a second party to engage with. Good communication or communication in general is about a sending and receiving messages. If there’s no one intercepting your message than there’s not much communication occurring. Speaking is only one-half of communicating and I have that part down. If I talk as much as I do, I can at least afford to listen just as much. So here’s the plan:
Engage in the conversation
Ask questions about anything you might not have understood or heard. By conjuring up questions, you’re not only hearing the information twice but also clearing up any misconceptions. What people say isn’t always what they mean, so reflect on the words being spoken and clarify if needed. Also, offer suggestions or anything that you can relate to the topic at hand. This shows the person speaking that you understand what the discussion is about.
Offer a summation
At the end of the conversation it couldn’t hurt to summarize the conversation briefly. I’m not referring to a synopsis as in a book report, but give a brief rundown about what was discussed. When you walk away, you’ll have a better grasp of what was just said and the other person will feel better knowing that you listened.
Try to pay attention
If you don’t want to listen, you’re not going to listen. Make a conscious effort to pay attention to the words being spoken. This doesn’t mean memorizing everything that’s said, but restrain yourself from mentally drifting or thinking about other things because there’s usually a reason why that person is talking to you. Make it worth their time.
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