About steveacho

Business Geek, Musician, Lover, Fighter, Writer, Delusional Optimist

The other communication skill

The U.S. education system teaches three kinds of communication: speaking (think grammar and presentation skills), reading and writing.

There is a fourth communication category that’s hugely important: listening. Chances are, if you have knowledge of active listening, empathetic listening, “I” statements, and other related skills, you learned them outside of academics.

You can make big communication skill leaps by learning and applying good listening skills. My goal isn’t to teach you listening skills in a few sentences, but to urge you to think of them as every bit as important and technical as delivering a speech or interpreting the written word.

You 2.0

It’s a useful analogy to equate uses of our attention to using apps or software. There are bugs to fix with each new upgrade, and enough introspection reveals that we’ve been running some old programs that may have been appropriate at one time, but have outlived their usefulness.

The thought of new software or an update to existing software makes all of us nervous, as we know there will be changes we’ll have to get used to.

You should occasionally reflect on your uses of time and energy, and make sure you’re running programs that improve your personal operating system, and aren’t just running because they’ve always been.

10x greater

Growth can be either linear or exponential.  What happens when we set our sights on10x rather than a 10% sales increase?

For one thing, you will imagine possibilities that you never would otherwise.  To grow sales you might think of hiring a salesperson or adding a new campaign or promo.  To multiply sales you might think of partnering with or even acquiring a competitor.

Whether you reach the goal or not, you’re thinking anyway, so you may as well think big.  After all, the one driven to be the world’s first trillionaire may never hit that number, but is virtually guaranteed to make an enormous amount of money.

Remaining who you are

A man sees a snake that’s headed into a firepit. He picks it up trying to save it and it bites him. When the snake then actually enters the fire, the man again tries to save it and is again bitten.

His friend asks why he would risk this a second time when it was obvious what would happen. He replied: “The snake was just being a snake, and doing what was in its nature. I was also being myself, and doing what was in my nature. I won’t let outside forces change who I am.”

We don’t have to put ourselves in danger to be true to our nature, but this is a good reminder that even if we’re victims of harmful gossip, manipulation, or someone else’s uncontrolled anger, doesn’t mean we have to employ those tactics. Others’ “bad” shouldn’t change your “good.”

Who’s in control?

A psychologist in the 1950s coined the term “locus of control”, which identifies the difference (internal or external locus) in whether we perceive to be in control of our lives, or outside forces are controlling us.

We can change our own perception to notice how much of our lives we are able to architect, despite (or even because of) external forces out of our control.

Not surprisingly, those with an internal locus of control are consistently happier, less stressed, more productive, and more fulfilled than those who believe that they are victims to outside forces.

You first

Not only is putting yourself first healthy, it’s the only way to remain resilient enough to be of service to others.

For those in a rough place who feel guilty about putting themselves first in terms of  emotional well-being, financial situation, or energy, ask yourself this: would you wish on someone you love that they live life feeling exactly how you do?

Dependability

Dependability is a high-ranking “soft skill” that employers, colleagues and customers desire.

When it comes to your career, there are many worthwhile investments you can make to sharpen the saw of your particular expertise. On top of this, try to cultivate a reputation for being dependable. People want to know that they can count on you, and that your word is reliable.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that so-called soft skills are not trainable. All of them are. For this particular skill, all you have to do is make sure you always do what you say.

Desires

It’s healthy to have desires, goals, and hopes for better versions of the future.  But so often we fall victim to as-soon-as syndrome, making our desires much like contracts we make with ourselves to be unhappy until we get what we want.

Defining and striving for things in line with our desires is essential.  Just be sure you’re not trading a possible future for an unmistakable now.

Negativity bias

My music has received over 50 million streams and downloads, hundreds 5-star ratings, and the kindest reviews and compliments. Yet I can recite verbatim the ruthless critique of my voice from an anonymous user 10 years ago. A decade-old review from one person.

This is negativity bias in action. We’re all susceptible to it. We too quickly forget the praise we receive and tend to highlight the cynical people and opinions.

I keep an email folder called “inspiration” where I file the kind words I’ve received from people who clearly value what I do. It helps to keep a reminder that most of the time you’re doing a stellar job.

This too shall pass

Life has ups and downs. Where you are right now, and how you feel about it, is much like a balance sheet. It’s just a snapshot of your emotional assets and liabilities for a moment in time.

The most important thing to remember is that where you are right now (physically, financially, emotionally) does not reflect what you are.