The Happiness Connection  

People-watching lessons

I have spent the last two weeks around more people than usual. It gave me the opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new connections.

I did a lot of conversing, but I also spent time observing. It was interesting to sit back and see how people communicate.

People watching provides so much information and is an invaluable learning source. I’m constantly trying to glean new insights and understanding about myself and others.

Communication is something most of us do on a regular basis, so you may not think much about it.

Imagine what life would be like if you couldn’t communicate, or there was no one to communicate with.

It makes me think of Helen Keller. She contracted an illness when she was 19 months old that left her both deaf and blind. Without these senses, she didn’t learn to speak, read, or write the way most people do.

In her autobiography, she describes the years when she couldn’t communicate like being “at sea in a dense fog.”

Fortunately, with the help of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, she overcame those obstacles and was the first blind-deaf person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Her story has always amazed and moved me. She understood the value of communication and mastered it by becoming a prolific author and university lecturer.

For those people who learn to read, write, and talk in a more conventional way, you may not take much notice of how well you communicate. Things that come easily are often taken for granted and given little conscious thought.

I’ve learned through experience that communication is far too precious to be treated so dismissively.

Not everyone is naturally eloquent, or able to present their ideas without being emotionally attached to them. You only need to watch a political debate to witness that.

If you interact with people regularly, spending time to improve your communication skills is well worth it. You will avoid a lot of frustration and wasted energy.

Here are some areas to concentrate on.

Understand your thoughts and beliefs before you share them with others

You may need to be conscious and deliberate about this step, because according to the Myers Briggs Assessment Tool, 75% of all people process their ideas verbally. You may need to vocalize your thoughts to organize and make sense of them.

You may not notice yourself doing this, but be aware that it is possible, and statistically quite likely.

Preface your thoughts. Tell others that you are sharing a new thought or start with the phrase “Is it possible that …….?” or “I’m just thinking out loud.”

I love to talk to myself. I have learned how important it is to vocalize my ideas, so I can hear and make sense of them. My mirror and I have shared many moments of clarity.

Detach from your emotions

Feeling passionate about your thoughts doesn’t mean you have to be emotional about them. Remember that everyone has their own values and unique experiences.

When you find yourself feeling frustrated or angry that the other person can’t see your point of view, it is probably because you need them to agree with you.

You are programmed to seek approval from others. This evolutionary behaviour supported humans in primitive times. The tribe was stronger if they stuck together with the same behaviours and beliefs.

It isn’t as vital today that everyone be on the same page. You will experience a greater level of satisfaction if you come to your own beliefs and ideas instead of just mindlessly agreeing with everyone else.

Don’t communicate believing that your main goal is to make other people agree with you. Detaching from your emotions when you communicate will help you achieve that.

Listening is just as important as speaking

Communication is a two-way process. This is a major reason why it can be so challenging.

When you speak, it is likely that you understand what you are trying to say, especially if you have embraced my first point. Be aware that the people who hear your words may not interpret them the way you intended them to.

This is why being an eloquent speaker is so valuable, especially if you interact with lots of people. The clearer and more concise you are, the greater the chance others will understand the intended meaning behind your words.

It also illustrates why it is important to be an active and attentive listener. Don’t spend the time when others are speaking, creating your response. Try your best to understand the meaning behind their words.

Ask for clarity rather than assuming you know what they are saying. This is especially valuable if you don’t agree with them.

You are never too old to become a better communicator.

Get clear about your thoughts; process before you share them. Leave your emotions behind and concentrate just as much on listening as speaking.

You may be surprised by the value that clear, unemotional communication has on every aspect of your life.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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