Human beings are social creatures. In our day to day activities we have to interact with many people. Most of the tasks that we perform or we ask others to perform depend upon the cooperation we receive from others. Evidently, our success depends on our relationship with others. Besides, good relations contribute to our happiness. First, let us understand what is good relationship? This means a number of things which are:
i) Faith in others. We can have good relations with someone only if they feel that we trust them and they can rely on us.
ii) Respect for others; we need to give consideration for ideas and opinion of people we deal with. Mutual respect is the basis of working together cordially. In this situation work is done with collective wisdom and creativity.
iii) Living up to your words; it means that whenever you have offered any kind of help to someone, you must give it. At the same time you need to be mindful of what to say and use your language and speech with discretion.
iv) Diversity should be welcomed. Each individual is different. Their opinions are different, being from different backgrounds. Good relationship will require you to accept the diversity.
v) Communicate with great care. We need to communicate with people around us all the time. If we are too secretive, others will observe it even inadvertently. This will act as a road block in good relationship. Therefore we must be open in our communication. You need not hesitate to say that certain information you will not like to reveal, but politely.
Having talked about the definition of good relationship, I would, now, like to share my thoughts about what habits we need to inculcate for developing good and cordial relations. These are:
Habit 1. Develop your networking skills. You should never be shy to reach out to people whom you want to connect and build relations. This will require high standard soft skills, clear and honest communication, ability to collaborate and resolve conflicts whenever these takes place. Difference of opinion even among close compatriots is not uncommon. It should be your habit to respect the difference of opinion. If you are not convinced you can always say politely that ‘we agree to disagree’.
Habit 2. Understand your relationship objectives. In the busy life today, we do not have time to build relations with people for the fun of it. Therefore, it’s necessary to clearly understand the relationship needs of both you and the other person. What you expect from them and what they might expect from you in return need to be contemplated. By no means can you be considered as selfish. In any case if you are not careful of what you want. How you can take care of others, if you cannot take care of yourself.
Habit 3. Spare sometime for building relationship with people who are important to you. It’s not enough to talk sweetly whenever you happen to meet someone. Conscious deliberate efforts are required to build good relations with anyone. Your keenness should be supported by your conduct and actions. Small courtesies like complimenting someone’s achievement, saying ‘thank you’ if something is done for you and sending greeting on New Year, birthday or anniversary greeting etc. go a long way to strengthen cordiality.
Habit 4. Develop a positive attitude. Incidents in your life might have left some scars of suffering even without your fault, But this should not be a reason for a negative attitude. In fact, your attitude is you; it should be visible on your face, speech and the body language. Your negative feelings inside your mind will never allow a visible positivity. Make it a habit to spend some time to develop your emotional intelligence. This will improve yourself awareness and ability to handle difficult people or difficult situations with a positive attitude. You will earn respect from others and so good relations will follow.
Habit 5. Listen twice as much as you speak. Each of us has two ears but only one mouth to speak. So, speak less and listen more. Everyone wants to be heard and to be understood. If you fulfill both these needs, they will only be too happy to be in your company. When you speak you don’t add anything to your knowledge, however, when you listen actively you are likely to enhance your knowledge. Further, you will speak with discretion and take care of speech elements like pace, pitch, emphasis on the keyword and the tone. Thus, what you speak will be more effective and appreciated by the listener. You will find the habit of listening more and speaking less very helpful in building good relations.
Habit 6. Recognize and appreciate others whenever the occasion arises. If anyone has rendered any help to you, he/she need to be thanked and appreciated. It should be your habit to compliment others genuinely. It should not appear that you are just completing a formality. The receiver of the compliment/appreciation will acutely observe your action. She must feel that the appreciation has come from your heart.
Habit 7. You must know your boundaries and exercise discretion. There is no point in allowing anyone to intrude in your private space. Nor, you should do it yourself. Everybody needs privacy. Everyone is engaged in various activities. You have to find available time for interaction with others. In modern times, due to very competitive environment, there is no scope for any gossips or stretching any discussion beyond limits.
Since habits die very hard, it is equally difficult to inculcate new habits. Identify your development needs in respect of above habits and then start working on these. You need to be patient with yourself and consistent in your approach.
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Life becomes dull if you are indecisive and a procrastinator. You tend to become de-motivated and perform your tasks as these were a burden. In today’s fast paced world such habits and/or altitude have no place. So, it is necessary to keep yourself motivated understanding fully well that difficulties are a part of life and these must be faced squarely and upfront. How does one keep self motivated? I have 8 suggestions in this respect which I would like to share with you.
Suggestion 1: like your work. Whatever work you may be doing, feel happy and proud about it. If you are doing some work which for any reason you don’t like; it’s time for action. These are two options. Change your work/job, if it is possible otherwise start liking the same work that you are doing. You might ask how can we start liking something which we don’t. For this, I will ask a question. Looking back in your life, have you always been constant in liking or disliking certain things? The honest answer is ‘No’. If you have changed your preferences due to outward influences, you certainly can do the same with your conscious effort.
Suggestion 2: Discuss ideas and not people. Individuals are only references to the ideas that you want to discuss. And that alone should be their only significance. Each person is an individual. His/her conduct and habits are the products of multifarious circumstances and influences to which they have been and are exposed. Don’t judge anyone. Accept as they are and deal with them to the best of your ability. Consider handling difficult people are your challenges, you alone have to face. It’s your personal battle as explained in the great book “Bhagwad Gita” and you should never run away from the battlefield.
Suggestion 3: Never argue but you may agree to disagree. Arguments do not lead anywhere. Expressing your opinion is necessary. But do it with an open mind. If the opponent agrees with your views, that is good. But if not, and at the same time you still feel that you are right, just say that we agree to disagree. It may appear difficult. Assertiveness is certainly not easy, but you will find that the difficulty is mitigated when you start practicing it. Here, the important point is how you speak. What words you use. Your tone is equally important, if not more.
Suggestion 4: Failure is a part of your road to success. This only shows that you have tried. Every effort cannot bring desired results. All the scientists invent wonderful things by failing many times. Each failure teaches how things don’t work until a way is found when they do. Analyze the reasons for failure and move ahead. Never indulge in the blame game. Putting blame on others for anything hardly ever helps. If it’s a person, you need to understand and proceed. If it is a circumstance, you need to provide for it.
Suggestion 5: If some system or procedure does not work, change it. Don’t cling to it thinking that it had worked on earlier occasions so it should work even now. Everything changes. Life is changing faster than ever. Review the situation and analyze the reasons. But still if it does not work it may only mean that if has out lived its life. Some freshness, something different and new needs to be added. Add it. Do not allow any belief to interfere with you necessarily to innovate.
Suggestion 6: Review the benchmarks. Progress does not mean that you may be performing successfully at the same space. An athlete who wants to compete will keep on setting higher goals. The difference may be minuscule. But enhancing his/her target will keep the motivation alive. Fast advancement in technology is certainly making life very competitive. You have to be abreast with the technology and you have to be adept in using the same. When you keep on changing your benchmarks your will face now challenges which will keep you motivated and make life more interesting.
Suggestion 7: Develop a system of getting others’ feedback in the most befitting manner. You must know yourself and you must also know how others know you. This will keep you motivated, enough!
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Listening is as important for good conversation as speech is. Your ability to influence or convince people increases manifold, if you develop good listening skills. There are many other advantages of being a good listener. These include:
i) Learning from listening: When you talk, you repeat what you already know but when you listen, you are likely to learn something new.
ii) Active listening is the secret to discover great stories: Active listening enables you to understand and assimilate not only what is said but also what are left unsaid. The body language and the modulation of the speech reveals all.
iii) Improving relations: Everyone wants to the other to listen. Good Listening raises the self-esteem of the speaker. At the same time, you also become important in your own assessment. More importantly, the speaker finds that you are giving respect to his views. As a result the relationship between two individuals improves.
iv)Unnecessary arguments avoided: In the meetings most arguments take place due to lack of proper listening and understanding. It is said that first understand and then be understood. You already know what needs to be said if you listen to the other person appropriately and you have understood him/her.
v) Overall improvement of productivity: If you are a good listener and make the speaker feel that you are, the conversation becomes more focused. Brevity replaces verbosity and time and energy is saved by everyone.
There would be many other advantages of being a good listener but I think these are enough to convince everyone about the dire need to become a good listener. How can one become a good listener? What are the steps we must take for becoming one? I list below seven steps which when followed would result in development of adequate listening skills. These are:
Step I: Prepare yourself to listen. Relax and focus on what the speaker says. If any other thought is coming to your mind, put it aside when listening to someone. Do not try to think and solve any other problem like you might miss your train or about the argument you might had with your boss and the like.
Step II: Make the speaker comfortable and put him at ease. Let them feel free to express what they have in mind. Maintaining an eye contact will make the speaker feel that you are listening.
Step III: Maintain your patience. If you are not patient your body language will reveal that. And it is not possible to listen properly unless you are relaxed and are not in a hurry.
Step IV: You must empathize. Try to understand people by looking at the situation from their perspective. If the speaker says something with which you do not agree, keep an open mind and don’t snub.
Step V: Avoid your personal prejudices. You may have one style of saying things. You may be fluent in language; everyone is not. So, you must not negate others on any such basis. Give them a fair opportunity to explain.
Step VI: Listen to the body language. You can listen with your ears. But you can also listen with your eyes. Body language is extremely important when you are engaged any critical discussion.
Step VII: Ideas are important, not just the words. Listen to understand the ideas. The speaker may not be an expert in communications and may not use precise language. In that case reframe the sentence according to your understanding and ask if you have understood well.
The above steps to improve your listening skills aptly deserve the time and effort you may spend. The benefits are immense.
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Time is the most invaluable resource available with everyone for his/her progress. This is one thing that has been equally distributed to everyone, rich or poor. It is necessary, therefore, to use one’s time with discretion and to draw the maximum advantage.
First step: the first step for effective time management is that you must understand how you use your time habitually. How much time you spend in each of your activities at home or at workplace. For this you must make your time log for three or four days. This means that right from the time you get up in the morning till you sleep at night whatever activity you do, you must note down in the slots of 15 minutes. Now you broadly understand distribution of your time in daily routine activities. You must then find out which are the areas where you can save time. For example if you take bath in 20 minutes, can you reduce it to 15 minutes etc.
Second step: Next you must analyze your routine activities as per the following classifications:
i)Tasks which are both urgent and important. In this category you will include all crisis situations like need to go to the hospital for sudden illness, the deadline projects or attend to some pressing projects which cannot wait.
ii) Activities which are important but not urgent. This will include your exercise or daily walk, eating food at proper time, building good relations with people who are important to you, exploring new opportunities, leaving new things etc.
iii) In next category we have activities which cannot wait, but these are also the ones which are not really important. This will include: making some calls, attending to some mail, meetings pressing matters without any real impact.
iv) The fourth category includes- trivia, time wasters, unimportant calls, needless surfing, watching any programme on the television. Besides, there could the many such activities which appear pleasant to you but which do not add value or do not have any significance to your goals.
Third step: The third step is to prioritize. Having understood the various classes of activities that occupy your time and their importance, it would the easy for you to set your priorities. It is important for everyone to identify which are important tasks and when these must be done. Form your experience and understanding of the time, you would be able to set necessary priorities everyday.
Fourth step: This comprises your ability to be assertive. Never say ‘yes’ if you want to say ‘no’. It is your time and you must use it. Don’t allow other to misuse your time depriving you of its just and proper use. When you use all of the your time judiciously, you will find yourself becoming more productive. Apart from achieving more each day, it will also help you to enhance your self-esteem.
Fifth step: This refers to your habit of expecting too much from yourself. You can do only as much as can be done by an individual in the time available and no more. You can of course stretch yourself which will enable you to do some more but only to a certain extent. Never stretch more. That will make you stressed. Your efficiency will go down and the quality of work will suffer. You must do only one thing at a time. Multitasking, in fact, reduces your ability and performance. You must be in a position to perform different tasks, but only one at a time.
Sixth step: The next step again represents your habit of being self-aware at all the time. You must never loose track of what you need to do at any given time vis-a- vis what you are doing. Being busy in unimportant tasks is no business at all. If you are not always self ware your many led to be engaged in unimportant activities. This is sheer waste. Self-awareness will always keep you focused and direct your efforts towards achieving your goals.
Seventh steps. Last but not the least, you must write a ‘to do’ list in the morning, every morning. By practice you will immediately be able to set priorities of your tasks, and also allot adequate time for finishing these tasks satisfactorily. There, you need to provide some buffer because inspite of your best efforts, there would be unexpected disruptions. The additional time provision will avoid frustration as the end of the day. At night, you will need to write your journal. This will describe all your activities and the outcome. The journal will show you that there is some lesson that you learn each day. The lessons learnt will enable you not to repeat mistakes that you might make.
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