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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Improve Your Communication Skills

Communication skills is an important aspects of our life, be it when we are engaging with our partners, our friends or our work colleagues.

Being able to inspire other individuals through your communication will allow your life to become more fruitful and enriched. As such, it is important to constantly seek to improve your communication skills.

Here are five tips on how you can improve your communication skills and become a better communicator.

1) Ask Open Ended Questions

In order to allow your conversation to flow, it is useful to use the technique of asking open-ended questions. Open-ended questions often start with words such as “when”, “what” and “why”. An example of an open-ended question is a statement such as: “So, what are some of your favorite foods?

It is best to avoid the closed-question. An example of the closed-question is a statement such as “Do you like to read”, which only invokes a yes or no type of response. Nothing kills a conversation quite like a closed question, because it can only be answered with a yes or no answer. Thus, do use more open-ended questions and this will hopefully lead to more free-flowing conversations.

2) Employ Active Listening

Active listening is a really useful technique as it lets the other person know that you’ve really listened to what they have been saying.

More importantly, it also conveys to the other person that you have understood what the other person is trying to say. The post "The Three Different Levels of Listening" elaborates more about the importance of listening as well as more characteristics of active listening.

Active listeners follow a conversation and are able to summarize the essence of what the other person is trying to say, guiding the conversation forward.

3) Engage With The Other Person

If someone else is trying to engage you in a conversation, your body language is really important. Try not to continue with the task that you are already doing. Instead, what you should do is to stop whatever it is that you are doing and face the other individual, and give them the time which they deserve.

Remember that good communication involves engaging with the other individual. Give them the time and respect that they deserve.

4) Don’t Make Assumptions

Do not jump to conclusions when you are in a conversation with someone. Don’t assume that you know what they are thinking or what they might feel about a particular topic. Instead, it is much better to ask them if they are ok with this or if they feel all right about that.

Take that person’s thoughts and beliefs into careful consideration and rather than projecting your own thoughts and feelings on them. Remember, don’t make assumptions.

5) Avoid Using Antagonistic Sentences

An example of an antagonistic sentence is, “You’re sitting in my chair.” An antagonistic sentence can be seen as a form of attack on the other individual.

Hence, it is much better to use softer and less direct sentences such as “Excuse me, I think you’ve taken my seat.” This approach is much less confrontational and which will mean that you are more likely to encounter a lot fewer conflicts in your life.

In this post, we have seen five tips on how we can improve on our communication skills. Actually, it is not that difficult to improve your communication skills. All we have to do is to be genuinely interested in the other person. A smile here and there goes a long way.

Follow these guidelines and soon you will be on the path to better interpersonal communication skills.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

What is Important in your Life?

The world is coming to an end!...

…according to the program “Apocalypse Now”, which is a program from the discovery channel.

According to that program, the world can come to an end in a number of ways.

For example, a black hole could easily destroy us. Certain black holes move through space at tremendous speeds.
A black hole could be headed towards us right now and swallow the entire world up in an instance. Even if it does not hit us, it might push the earth out of its current orbit into deep space where we might freeze in a couple of weeks or nearer to the sun where we might be roasted.

The formation of a black hole similarly causes an intense burst of gamma ray radiation. Such a burst, if aimed directly at earth, could eliminate all of what we call biology as we know it.

The earth itself is also subject to cyclic fluctuations in its climate. It seems like for the past ten thousand years or so, we are currently experiencing a warm phase. Soon, the pendulum will inevitably swing back and the earth will be faced with an ice age again.

If all of the above does not get us, the death of our sun when it starts burns out surely will.

What is the purpose of all of saying all this?

We are a mere flicker in the span of cosmic time. From the words of Shakespeare's famous work,

"All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances..."

The point which I am trying to make is: What is important in your life?

This world will not last forever. Even if we were to discover the secret of eternal life, this world which we know as earth will not last forever. Even if you could accumulate a wealth of material items, it will all become meaningless at the end.

If so, you will need to ask yourself the golden question, "What is important in my life?" If you are able to answer this, then you might have stumbled onto a small glimpse of that the meaning of life really is.

When i ask myself that very question, the answer is very clear to me. My family and loved ones are the most important in my life. They are the source of my happiness. In times of difficulty, they are the people whom i turn to and the people who i trust the most.

Yet, often times, many of us take our family and loved ones for granted. We often prioritize stuff that are less important such as work or a television program, while neglecting that all important time that should be spent with our family and loved ones. We also tend to have less patience with our loved ones and get angry more easily.

Am i saying that this is wrong, not really. What i want to highlight here the following:

1) Our loved ones should be, and is one of the most important aspects of our lives
2) We often times take our loved ones for granted
3) We need to actively take the time and effort to improve our relationships with our loved ones.

Take the time to talk and show appreciation to your family and loved ones. Use some of the effective communication tips as mentioned in the Better Interpersonal Communication blog. Remember, this world will not last forever, so what is really important in your life?

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Some guiding principles that will help you to find more meaning in life
Finding Meaning in Your Life