Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Compete with yourself

Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.” ~ Unknown
We live in a competitive society. We work in a competitive industry. Most of us at some time in our lives probably played a competitive sport. Competition is a part of our lives and studies suggest that we learn to be competitive at an early age.
When I was younger I used to perform on a gymnastic team. At gymnastic meets I would go to my assigned rotation after I warmed up and stretched. While waiting my turn it I often common checked out the other team to see what their skills were. This would either make me happy or doubt myself; it all depended on the skill level of the other gymnasts.
When I first joined the team I was 10 and my skills were pretty basic. At my first gymnastic meet I was both nervous and excited. There were a few girls around my age, but performing tricks at a higher level than me. Doubt began to set in as I watched them. Aisha, one of my senior team members noticed and came over to me and said, “Don’t worry about them. You’re here to do the best job you can do. Give it everything you got and have fun.” I wasn't sold, but I followed her advice. Those other girls placed in the top three on every event. I did manage to place in the top six on floor and vault (my two favorites). I didn’t realize it back then, but she was telling me to compete with myself. After that meet I still compared myself to others, however, I also began to focus on the best job that I could do and that was reinforced by my coaches and teammates.
Hendrik Edberg, blogger of The Positivity Blog recommends the following five tips to stop comparing yourself to others:
  1. Be Kind –The way you behave and think towards others seems to have a big, big effect on how you behave towards yourself and think about yourself. Judge people more and
    you tend to judge yourself more.
  2. Don’t Fall Into the Trap of Hero Worship – When you start to make myths out of people – even though they may have produced extraordinary results – you run the risk of becoming disconnected from them. You can start to feel like you could never achieve similar things that they did because they are so very different. So it’s important to keep in mind that everyone is just a human being no matter who they are.
  3. Accept You Can’t Always Win – Just consciously realizing this can be helpful. No matter what you do you can pretty much always find someone else in the world that has more than you or are better than you at something.
  4. Give Up Both Sides of Comparing – If you can’t stop doing the negative comparisons then stop doing them both. Because if you’re in the headspace where you compare
    to feel better about yourself then it’s hard to stop it and not also start to compare in way that make you feel worse and inferior.
  5. Compare Yourself to Yourself – Instead of comparing yourself to other people create the habit of comparing yourself to yourself. See how much you have grown, what you have achieved and what progress you have made towards your goals.
What additional tips do you recommend?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Are you actively listening? Part 2: Online communications

We had a very lively discussion in the blog post, “Are you actively listening?” I appreciated the comments and insights you shared. After I read through your comments I thought it would be helpful to also look at how we can be better at active listening in our online communications. 

Whether communicating with a person face-to-face or online, it’s important to remember that effective communication is two-way communication. This can be hard when we’re using technology because we  see a person’s emotion or response. Kaitlin Duck Sherwood’s, A Beginners Guide to Effective Email summarizes the problems we experience with online communication:

“Email also does not convey emotions nearly as well as face-to-face or even telephone conversations. It lacks vocal inflection, gestures, and a shared environment. Your correspondent may have difficulty telling if you are serious or kidding, happy or sad, frustrated or euphoric. Sarcasm is particularly dangerous to use in email.”

Although Sherwood focuses on email communication, her ideas also apply to texting or other online communications like IM, social media posts, and eLearning. To be better active listeners online we need to be aware of our limitations and acknowledge them. Like I mentioned in the last post, active listening requires practice, practice, and more practice. I found a list of recommendations in the online blog, 17 ways to use Active Listening Techniques in Online Communication. Here are my top five for your consideration:

  • Answer Your Email Quickly – It’s amazing how many emails go unanswered, or are not answered in a timely fashion. You can put a person’s mind to rest by responding quickly and then moving on to your next task.
  • Specify the Response You Want – MindTools article Effective Email, suggests specifying the response you want. This helps  move to the next step more easily.
  • Don’t Pretend to Understand – Ask for clarity if there is confusion in the message.
  • Re-Read Your Email or Online Post Before You Send It –You may already do this, but looking for spelling and grammar errors is essential. Make sure you also clarify sentences that might be misunderstood, and consider what emotion you are writing with. Do you come across short, angry or arrogant?
  • Practice the 24-Hour Rule When Upset – It’s never good to communicate when you’re angry. Those emails are rarely good business or effective communications. Waiting at least 24 hours will save you having to apologize and have to mend fences.

Which tip do you find most helpful and will you put into practice?