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5 Tips to Increase Your Emotional IQ

Photo by Phil King
You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass. ~Timber Hawkeye

Have you ever felt so angry you lashed out and said words you regret? Felt so hurt, you couldn’t talk past the lump in your throat?

So frustrated, you weren’t able to form a coherent sentence? Or tried to communicate something important, and it landed like a dead fish?

I’ve been there. In my teens, I was a tempestuous young woman. Hormones had me flipping from rage to despair in a heartbeat. I sprayed emotions around me like a machine gun sprays bullets.

I couldn’t even talk to my then-boyfriend about anything important without losing control. I frustrated even myself.

So I learned to keep emotions under lock and key. I rarely expressed how I felt, and aimed to just keep the peace and ensure everyone was happy.

Except me.

Find Power in Silence

Photo by Phillipe Put
Silence is a source of great strength. ~Lao Tzu

When I was a kid, my family would take long road trips. We were from the Midwest, so in order to get anywhere the drive was at least six hours. But we were ambitious. Six hours was a weekend trip.

We were more interested in traveling to Detroit (a 13-hour trip) or Seattle (a 22-hour drive). When you pack five people in a car for that long, there are bound to be issues, and one of those was the radio.

Since my father drove most of the time, we were at his mercy when it came to the music. Or more often, I should say, the silence. While we were a musical family, my father would insist on turning off the radio every hour or so, just “to hear myself think,” as he said.

We would whine and complain.

“It’s just so boooooring without anything to listen to,” we’d say.

Fast forward decades later, and I suddenly find myself turning off the stereo at home, while I’m working or driving. This is odd for me — I consider myself an audiophile.

How to Overcome Social Anxiety

Photo by Jade
Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. ~Helen Keller

Imagine standing in a fancy ballroom in a hotel. You’re at a networking event, one of a handful of females in a room with investors and self-confident entrepreneurs.

You don’t know anyone, so you’re looking down at your smartphone pretending you have a message, but you don’t. You look around, hoping for someone to approach you … but no one does.

That was me, five years ago. Unsure of myself, scared to approach people and telling myself that I was a fake or a phony.

I had just launched a business, and we needed to raise capital — fast. The key to raising money is relationships: You need to meet the right people, get the right introductions and sell your idea.

Those were all things I did NOT want to do.

How to Handle Your Haters

Photo by Bonita Suraputra
People who urge you to be realistic generally want you to accept their version of reality. ~Unknown

With my multiple streams of income drying up one by one and no light of opportunity on the horizon, I was quickly losing faith in my ability to create a sustainable life as a writer. The long stretches of nothing to do were cementing my career-driven depression, and I was beginning to feel completely disconnected from my purpose.

I was incredibly insecure about my lack of forward movement, so I attempted to avoid conversations that brought up the topic of careers.

Then one day, a family gathering prompted a conversation about a local retail store that was considered to be a great place to work. One well-meaning but somewhat brash family member turned to me and said, “Why don’t you at least try to get a job there?”

I felt as if someone had just pummeled me in the stomach.

6 Tips for Asking for Help

Photo by David Urbanke
Asking for help does not mean that we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence. ~Anne Wilson Schaef

For the past few months I’ve been training for races I’m running this summer. Before I signed up, I had never run more than a few blocks without stopping. I’d just never gotten into it.

I’m not really sure why, but I’ve always wanted to run a trail race. Plus a triathlon is on my Nothing’s Impossible List, so why not start with the part I’m no good at?

I headed out to buy some good shoes. The owner offered me advice and ideas about how to begin running and what sort of training plan to follow.

What’s funny is that I figured there couldn’t be much to it. Instead I realized that I was a young babe in an old woods. There was a lot to running, and I didn’t know what I was in for.

I’m so thankful I opened up to that shop owner, because now I have all sorts of things to help me succeed. I was a little embarrassed to admit I was trying something new (that’s one of my ego’s trouble spots — I always want to look like an expert), but by doing so, I probably saved myself a whole bunch of misery, injury and wasted time.

4 Things Good Listeners Do

Photo by Jan Fidler
One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. ~Bryant H. McGill

Some acquaintances and I were hiking together in a new spot. Everywhere we turned there were things to behold — falcons perched, coyotes hunting, altars built — it was an experience I can’t wait to repeat.

Since we were all fairly new friends, we all had plenty to tell each other. There was very little silence, even in such an awe-inspiring place. When I got home I realized that I didn’t remember a lot of what was said. I was embarrassed to admit it, but it seemed I had forgotten to listen.

I’ve been told many times that I’m a good listener; in fact, many people open up to me for just that reason. Maybe it was because I was tired, or maybe I was just out of practice (working alone will do that to you) but I decided to revisit some of the things I draw on to listen well. Here are four tips on how to listen:

6 Ways to Let Go of Anger

Photo by xvire1969
Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave. ~Indira Gandhi

I hate to admit it, but I am not good at letting things go. A few days ago I stared getting worked up about a disagreement a good friend and I had. It replayed in my head; the hurt in my heart flared up again.

The worst part? It happened more than a year ago, and it’s been resolved. If she knew I still harbored these feelings, she’d probably be upset. After all, weren’t we past that?

It used to be that I would forgive and forget immediately, but I realized that I wasn’t truly forgiving people; I was simply using the technique of denial.

So instead, I swung to the other end of the pendulum, where I couldn’t seem to let go, even if I’d said I’d forgiven.

The benefits of letting go of a grudge aren’t all just in your head. Forgiveness leads to healthier relationships, less anxiety, lower blood pressure, fewer depression symptoms and less risk of substance abuse.

With all of this in mind, I set out to make an effort to forgive in a healthy way and quit walking around with the weight of all those grudges.

Tell Your Story & Heal Your Past

Photo by Jonathan Kos-Read
Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. ~Brene Brown

I emigrated halfway across the world to escape my story. That’s how desperate I was.

It was a story of loneliness, rejection and depression. I blamed my country of origin, my family and a run of bad luck.

And instead of facing my story, I ran from it.

But our pasts always catch up to us. And so it wasn’t long before my life in a new country with a great new job resembled much of my life before the emigration.

Not on the outside, but on the inside. I had escaped my physical circumstances only to find that what I really wanted was to do was escape myself.

3 Lessons on Creating Trust

Photo by EDUARDO IZQUIERDO
Trust is to human relationships what faith is to gospel living. It is the beginning place, the foundation upon which more can be built. Where trust is, love can flourish. ~Barbara Smith

My husband and I have been considering buying a house but knew we had some hurdles that might make it unlikely. We contacted a loan officer who worked with us and gave us a positive opinion. We were absolutely thrilled and started looking at homes.

It turned out, however, that he’d processed some incorrect information and we might not be able to get a loan this year after all.

To say we were bummed out would be an understatement. Both of us tried to see the positive side but couldn’t seem to shake our disappointment.

Neither of us wanted to talk about it, but finally I brought it up.

5 Tips for Having Hard Conversations

Photo by Shannon
Difficult conversations are almost never about getting the facts right. They are about conflicting perceptions, interpretations, and values. ~Douglas Stone

My friend, author and artist Christine Mason Miller, once wrote in her book Ordinary Sparkling Moments that communication between people is like a ball — you have to throw it so that the other person can catch it.

If you don’t? Someone’s going to get whacked in the face, really hard. That’s not going to promote communication.

Most people spend a lot of time just trying to work up the courage to have a difficult conversation with someone. This is a tough space, isn’t it?

No one likes to initiate a conversation in which they know that they need to communicate that there’s a conflict between them.

After you’ve checked to make sure that you’re not manipulating the work when you decide to speak your truth, here are a few guidelines to more successfully throw that ball so that someone else can catch it.

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