Communication Skills

Simple Love And Care Advice For Couples

Grams Wisdom 6

When I was 40 something I embarked on a new relationship. Only to find Gram had still more wisdom to share with me. Just a few months in she wanted to know was I happy and was I taking good care of him?

I admit to the desire to remind her that he was also a grown up and I hardly felt that at this stage of my life his care should be my responsibility. But I kept that thought to myself.

It seemed Gram wanted to remind me that in any couple’s relationship, what matters most is each other. Children grow and go, careers ebb and flow. If you can manage a loving caring relationship into old age, then fortune will have smiled on you.

 

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Take a vacation

Actually, Gram said “don’t stay home and paint the house.” Whether you are a couple or a family with children, everyone benefits from a change of scenery. You and your spouse or partner need to have some fun time together to rest and recharge or soon your relationship becomes tiresome and stale.

Consider tackling that large project over several weekends instead of during your vacation. Otherwise you might come home to a newly painted house after work every day, but as you roll into the driveway you won’t appreciate it. Instead all you will see are the difficulties you encountered, how tired you were at the end of each day, and the unkind things you probably said to one another.

 

Play to your strengths at home

Next, she said a peaceful happy home revolves around getting things done but not if one person is doing the lion’s share of the household chores.

I was told I should play to my strengths, choose and do the chores that I wanted to do. Have him choose the things he wanted to do. Share some tasks and negotiate any leftover chores. Then finally, pay someone to do what neither of us wanted to do.

 

The closest thing to being cared for is to care for someone else.
— Carson McCullers

What I learned on my own

  

Beware of Taking Each Other for Granted

Whenever a couple begins to live together or get married, everything is so new and exciting that you think it will go on forever. Unfortunately, day-to-day stresses and busy schedules can soon mean the excitement wears off and you feel like you are living in a well-worn rut. It’s like you’ve become roommates, not lovers, and have begun to take each other for granted.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The important thing to know is what bad habits are passion killers and avoid them. In fact, you could introduce some everyday habits that would prevent you from taking each other for granted. Here are some suggestions:

 

Learn Each Other’s Love Languages

The marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman has written a series of books titled, The 5 Love Languages. The five are:

 

* Acts of service

* Gifts

* Physical touch

* Praise

* Quality time

 

In the books, he states that everyone has a primary and secondary love language. Knowing your partner’s love language can help them feel appreciated and not taken for granted.

You might think you are being loving if you buy gifts or do acts of service, for example, but if your partner values quality time and physical touch, you will clearly not be speaking the same language.

Ironically, in many cases, one of the partners in a relationship will often become a workaholic because their love language is acts of service, but this will mean little to a partner who wants quality time with their significant other. The promise to "work less someday" often comes too little, too late, because the spouse waiting for quality time feels so alone and so taken for granted.

The workaholic partner can feel taken for granted as well: "I’m working so hard every day, and all my spouse ever does is complain I’m not home with them holding hands. Don’t they know I’m doing all this for THEM?"

 

Follow Through on Your Love Language Research

You can each take the free quiz online to determine your primary and secondary love languages. If they don’t mesh at all, it will be important to discuss what you can each do to ensure that the other person doesn’t feel taken for granted. https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/

Here are a few suggestions you can work into your daily schedule as positive habits that show you care, but without taking up too much time or money.

 

Acts of service

This means doing the dishes, taking out the trash, feeding and walking the dogs, helping more with the children, taking the car to the car-wash, doing the cooking or the laundry.

 

Praise

It’s easy to give words of praise:

 

* I’m so proud of you

* Well done

* That was amazing

* You’re such a great cook

* You’re a great dad, helping out with the kids so much

* And so, on

 

The praise should be sincere and, if possible, specific to something the other person has done recently. This shows you are noticing them and not taking them for granted.

 

Gifts

Little things can mean a lot:

 

* A single red rose

* Their favorite candy

* A piece of clothing you know they had their eye on at the mall

* A nice meal out

* A note tucked where it will be found later

 

And anything else that you know they would like.

 

Quality time

This can be tough if you have kids, but it is worth it to make the effort:

 

* Thirty minutes of chatting and hand-holding once the kids are asleep

* A regular date night

* A shared activity you both enjoy, such as a walk or a bike ride at your local beauty spot

* Walk the dog(s) together

 

Physical touch

In many cases, this will mean sex, but it can mean a lot of other things as well:

 

* Cuddling

* Holding hands

* Hugging

* Kissing

* Trading massages

* Showering or bathing together

 

And anything else you both enjoy.

Find your love languages and give these ideas a try - then see how it helps bring romance into your life rather than your having taken each other for granted.

 

I hope you enjoyed this small mix of my Gram’s wisdom with some of my own. If you found it valuable, please share it. I appreciate you taking your time to read this.

Nine Tips to Speak More Confidently in Public

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At some point in your life, career, even in retirement, someone is going to ask you to speak in public. Most of the time these will be short introductory forays in front of friends and family. Think your best friend’s wedding toast or other social interactions. Still, there are going to be the occasional work-related presentations in front of co-workers or gasp a sales presentation for a new client.

 

For many people, just the thought of speaking in public brings on a panic attack that has them racing to the nearest exit. But speaking in front of people needn’t be scary and off-putting. In fact, you can manage it better than you think with preparation and practice before the big day.

 

I have gathered 9 confidence-boosting tips for you to try the next time you are asked to speak publicly.   

 

1 | Watch how famous speakers do it

Begin by observing the traits and habits of successful public speakers. Take note of their styles and timing. What engagement techniques do they use with their audience?

 

2 | Dress for the occasion

Personal grooming is very important. How will people pay attention to your speech if all they can see is your messy hair or wrinkled suit? Make sure you look good, ready, and professional.

 

3 | Connect with your audience

One of the best ways to create a connection with your audience is to speak from your heart. Don’t just memorize your speech, talk with feelings and allow your emotions to rise to the surface. When people see you are passionate about something they almost always connect with you. Using stories is another compelling way to interact with your audience. They have probably experienced something similar that brings their own feelings to the surface.

 

4 | Start believing you are fabulous

Negative thinking will not help you deliver your best speech. When you are confident about yourself, it will radiate in your speech. Walk the stage and use your voice and body language. When you speak, speak with authority and confidence.

 

5 | Don’t be too hard on yourself

We all make mistakes but if you don’t tell anybody no one will ever know. It’s alright if you forget to read something or accidentally skip forward. Relax and carry on. Remember your audience is on your side. They want to learn what it is you have to say or teach.

 

6 | Slow Down

If you are a fast or nervous talker, try to slow down and enjoy every moment of your speech. No matter how good your material is, if the audience can’t keep up, they will go home learning NOTHING.

 

7 | Establish Eye Contact

Always look at your audience when speaking to them this helps to put them at ease. Pick out individuals in the crowd and speak to them. You will appear more confident when your head is held up rather than face down glued to your notes.

 

8 | Use humor

You don’t need to be a comedic genius, but a few lighthearted comments will liven the mood in the room. You can surely win your audience with well-timed clever remarks.

 

9 | Keep it short and sweet

You can’t go on for hours speaking about the same thing. Organize all your points and deliver them accordingly. Don’t torture your audience by having them listen to your ramblings.

 

Well, there you have it. A broad overview of what you need to know to speak more confidently in front of people.

My favorite tip is number 5. Please let me know what your favorite is or if you have a tip of your own that you use.

For further reading take a look at these:

Five Ways To Improve Your Listening Skills

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How Well Do You Listen?

It should be noted that listening is every bit as important as speaking. Why? Because we all want to be heard and understood. That means someone needs to be on the receiving end listening, or we would just be talking to ourselves. But being heard isn’t the only benefit of good listening. People tend to think a good listener is more trustworthy. But, to really be heard you must listen.

The biggest way you can do that is to improve your listening skills. Listening requires concentration, at least, if you are not used to doing it and it also takes practice. The following five tips should help start you on your way to becoming a great listener.

Are You Fully In the Moment?

It’s understandable why people get distracted. There is a lot going on in life both personal and business. You owe it to yourself and to others to minimize distractions while having a conversation. And make no mistake being a good listener means being a good conversationalist.

People tend to be self-absorbed and constantly think about themselves. So, while you think about yourself, remember it’s also important to be mindful of others.

The benefits of improved listening will make it worthwhile to you as people will know (at least subconsciously) when you are doing it and appreciate it. They will feel your interest and want to spend more time with you. They will sense that you are taking notice of what they have to say and in turn will want to listen to you.

Tip 1: Clear your mind and focus on what the person is saying.

Take a Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes

When they are speaking, make an effort to put yourself in their place. Listening doesn’t mean you have to respond to everything. In fact, sometimes all people need is to get something off their chests. Giving advice is not always a good idea, especially if you are not familiar with the situation or don’t have the expertise. Again, it’s all about hearing what others are talking about and showing empathy when needed.

It also doesn’t require you to unconditionally agree with what is being said. But it’s important to at least hear the message. When you feel you are in the right and can offer your opinion on whatever the subject may be, then you should do so. When it is your turn to talk, find some common ground and start with something you agree with.

 Tip 2: Be tactful and respectful of others.

Let the Speaker Know You Were Listening

Be responsive and encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and uh huh. Nod occasionally and smile, make eye contact. Ask questions or for clarification on a particular point. Begin your questions with the words “how” and “what” to leave them open-ended. This invites a further exchange of information. So, don’t forget to share information about yourself. This is a conversation, not an interrogation.

Tip 3: Build connections with people.

Practice Active Listening

Show a genuine interest in what the person is saying by giving your full attention. This should be reinforced by eye contact and other Body Language signals such as facial expressions and gestures. Don’t mentally prepare what you will say next. It’s difficult to listen to and fully understand what you heard under that circumstance. Instead, show the person that you understood what had been said by repeating and paraphrasing what you heard. Then ask them “if this is what they meant.”

Tip 4: Show your interest in what the person says.

Develop a Growth Mindset

People who are curious see conversations as learning opportunities. So, they see everyone they speak to as having the potential to teach them something. They are open to new ideas, challenges, and experiences. For these people, listening to others has become another way to absorb knowledge.  

Tip 5: Expand your knowledge.

Listening is a skill that can be mastered. It takes time and a commitment. Remember your goal is to truly hear what the other person is saying. What you will find when you put forth the effort is that people may start approaching you more often because you have taken these first few steps to becoming a great listener.

Looking for more information to Improve Your Listening Skills?

8 Tips To Improve Your Listening Skills

How To Develop Listening Skills

Listening Skills

I really enjoyed writing this post. It has always been my belief that understanding others is only achieved when truly listening to them. Please let me know what you think.

 

Body Language Understanding Non-Verbal Cues

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Did you ever meet someone and think right away that maybe you couldn’t trust them? What was it about them that caused you to feel that way? Was it something they said or did? Because in the first few minutes of meeting someone, we make decisions about that person's intentions based on their non-verbal cues.  

Non-verbal Communication, commonly called body language, is the way our bodies tell another person about whom we really are and what we really think. There’s a reason Hollywood portrays the villain in an ugly light, just as they make the hero look like he can do no wrong. They want us to be sure who the players are.

It's especially important to make a good first impression. As many people like to say you never get a second chance at a good first impression. So make sure what your Body Language reveals about you is aligned with what you are saying.

Confidence - Signals 

  • Posture: stand straight and tall with your shoulders back but relaxed
  • Lean in slightly: this shows your focus is on them
  • Eye contact: present a solid gaze with a smiling face
  • Gestures: hands and arms should be purposeful and deliberate
  • Speech: slow and clear
  • Tone of voice: moderate to low and don't end every sentence with a question
  • Handshake: firm 

Relaxed and calm is what people like to see. It’s like when you smile at someone and they smile back at you. You cause them to want to smile because you seem to be happy. It rubs off.

Communication, not your strong point? Then practice in front of a mirror. Smile and say hello. Notice how you look. Would you want to meet you? Or would you cross the street to avoid you?

Now practice standing up straight, shoulders back, hands fidget free at your sides, and eyes forward making contact. Good posture is a good practice to develop. Being all scrunched up and hunched over with a frown on your face is no way to be. Pretend there is a string in the top of your head pulling you up. Now smile. There, you look great!

Defensiveness - Signals 

  • Hand/arm gestures: small and close to the body
  • Facial expressions: minimal
  • Body: turned away from you
  • Arms: crossed in front of body
  • Eyes: downcast, no eye contact

When you see this behavior your audience isn't open to what you have to say and your message is falling on deaf ears. By picking up on these cues you can make changes to what you say or how you are saying it to help that person feel more at ease and thereby more receptive to your message.

Disengagement - Signals 

  • Heads: are down
  • Eyes: glazed over or gazing elsewhere
  • Hands: fiddling with pen or doodling
  • People: slumped in their chairs

This behavior tells you your audience isn't buying into what you're saying. When you see that someone appears to be disengaged you can bring their focus back to the topic at hand by asking them a direct question and waiting for their answer. 

Lying - Signals

  • Eyes: maintain little to no contact, or have rapid eye movements
  • Hands/fingers: in front of mouth when speaking
  • Body: turned away from you or unusual body gestures
  • Breathing: rate increases
  • Complexion: changes in color, red in the face or neck
  • Perspiration: increases
  • Voice: changes in pitch, stammering or throat clearing

The ability to know if someone is lying will stand you in good stead. But if you notice some of these signs of lying don't jump to conclusions as they are often signs of nervousness. Instead, ask questions that may help to define what they think to see if this is the case.

Reflection - Signals 

  • Eyes: look away and return when answering
  • Fingers: stroking chin
  • Hand: on cheek
  • Head: tilted with eyes looking up

What do you do when asked a really good question? These gestures give away that they are thinking or pondering the answer to that question.

Understanding non-verbal communication is beneficial to your relations with people and a skill anyone can learn with practice. So, become more confident today by putting just one thing from this post into practice. In a short time, you will develop your own style of walking, standing, and greeting people. Remember: actions speak louder than words.

Please like or share this post if you find it useful. Better still leave me a comment so we can discuss what you liked or didn't like about it.