Attitude Is Everything!

During the past several weeks, I have experienced a heightened awareness of the powerful impact of attitude in my life as well as that of others. I have felt uplifted and grateful for the positive and encouraging attitudes of those dealing with life-changing challenges and disheartened by the negative and pessimistic attitudes of others.

Attitude is a state of mind, a way of thinking that is reflected in our behavior. We make critical choices about how to think about people, challenges and situations. When we have intense thoughts and feelings about something or someone — whether negative or positive — our attitude often “speaks” louder than our words.

This is why, when you feel hurt by or angry with someone, that person will most likely perceive your attitude whether you address the issue or not. You may think that you’re hiding your feelings, but non-verbal behaviors usually communicate our emotions more powerfully than spoken words. You may conceal your true feelings for a while, but not over time.

Conversely, a positive attitude and its non-verbal cues can communicate volumes about high regard, caring, affection, happiness, encouragement and resilience. No surprise that positive attitudes can be contagious and attract us to each other while negative attitudes can distance and shut us down from each other.

Psychologist Carol Dweck comments in her latest study about attitude and performance, “your attitude is a better predictor of your success than your IQ. Failure is information — we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, and I’m a problem-solver, so I’ll try something else.’”

Consider adopting a positive attitude:

  • Make a choice to think positively about someone or something. Realize that your attitude may be contagious.
  • Adopt an optimistic attitude about a person or situation, take action, then notice the impact you make.
  • Give someone the benefit of the doubt. It may result in a surprisingly positive outcome.
  • Demonstrate an attitude of curiosity and openness rather than challenging and resistant. What’s the payoff for judging something before facts are known?
  • Decide to approach uncertainty with openness and optimism instead of defensiveness or fear. Discover and learn before criticizing or judging.
  • Make a choice to engage and participate rather than to withdraw or abstain. Your experience will be more constructive.

Remember that many things happen in life over which we have no control. What matters most is how we handle ourselves and the meaning we attribute to the situation — how we feel and what we think about it.

Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, describes experiences in the concentration camp that show that man does have a choice of action and independence of mind. They offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: “The last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Wait A Minute – I Have To Take This Call

Have you even been engaged in deep conversation with a friend when their cell phone rang and you were “put on hold?” Or, perhaps you were in the midst of an important business discussion when a text was received and you were “cut off” in mid-sentence? I’ll bet that didn’t feel good!

How can we balance the extraordinary advances and benefits of digital technology in our lives without sacrificing the irreplaceable and powerful rewards of in-person human interaction and conversation?

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Not being a slave to digital technology is one way! Each individual deserves your full attention. For all its significant benefits, it is important not to let technology own you. Cell phones especially can:

  • Distract attention and diminish the quality of conversation.
  • Lack the spontaneity of real-time, in-person conversations.
  • Diminish the quality, connection and commitment of each conversation.
  • Enable us to “hide” from each other by avoiding a person, a problem or a situation.
  • Preclude substantive discussions.
  • Pressure us to always be connected or available to others.
  • Enable people to seemingly be connected but, in reality, they are “alone.”

We all have experienced unpleasant, rude behavior by people on their cell phones. Talking loudly in public. Making or answering calls or texts during conversations or meals. Holding up lines while on the phone. I’m sure you have your own stories.

While spotlighting a few challenges inherent with digital technology, I acknowledge and appreciate the convenience of mobile phones, texting and emails in our lives. A few ways include:

  • Managing logistics and plans easily and quickly.
  • Leaving messages from anywhere, at any time.
  • Sending a virtual “high-five” or an encouraging message.
  • Finding directions and information while on the move, but not while driving.
  • Uniting us easily and quickly with simple messages and answers.
  • Getting simple answers and help fast.

Since we live with great technological advances, it’s important that we understand how to utilize all of the benefits. However, it’s critical to acknowledge how our human interaction and productivity can be negatively impacted. It does require a conscious effort to balance the help and intrusions of digital technology, and the choice is yours to make!

Business gets done by people’s productivity, commitment and relationships, often facilitated by technology. Scheduling meetings. Handling emergencies. Conference calls. However, digital devices often interrupt and distract the real-time, in-person collaboration and engagement needed for having quality conversations and building trust.

Without face-to-face communication, genuine connection, shared experience and spontaneous chats, we lack the substantive conversations that help us learn and clarify our thinking. In-person conversation is an important way of being with each other and includes rich non-verbal messages that build trust, connection, productivity, creativity and understanding.

Our need for human contact is essential and digital technology can foster superficial connectivity, alienation and isolation in a virtual world. Technology will not improve the quality of our lives if we cannot successfully navigate being bombarded with data and disconnected from one another. As we expect more from digital technology, we must guard against expecting less from each other.

Secrets For Making Your Conversations Connect

The quality of conversation determines the quality of a relationship. Much more than words, a conversation is engagement, interaction and the glue of relationships. And, when communication is authentic, it promotes connection and earns trust between people.

Brain research shows that 93 percent of communication is not words. Author and academic Judith E. Glaser explains that, “In terms of importance, people allocate 7 percent to words, 38 percent to tone of voice, and 55 percent to nonverbal behaviors.” Nonverbal communication will always trump the words.

Non-verbal

The primary purpose of communication is to convey meaning and understanding. Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu’s wisdom, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” reminds us that within the context of a relationship, the quality of each conversation matters.

 

No single conversation defines an entire relationship. Therefore, each interaction is important — sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Does your communication invite connection and build trust? Are your conversations genuine?

Do you know that…

  • Transparent communication can withstand scrutiny.
  • Superficial and disingenuous messages lack credibility and fail to earn trust. We feel uncomfortable, anxious or suspicious when we can’t make sense of things or don’t know what we can count on.
  • “Politically correct” rhetoric may provoke anger precisely because we sense that a message is not authentic — it avoids saying what’s true or attempts to obscure an undesirable reality or what may be obviously biased.
  • Candid and dynamic conversations can co-create resolutions, stimulate collaboration, create connection, inspire curiosity, and identify options — all in service of advancing a process of getting things done.
  • Honest conversations help us to listen to, acknowledge and understand conflicting perspectives and to work our way through the sticky and prickly situations of life.
  • Thoughts, ideas, beliefs and values can be transformed through dialogue. A collaborative exchanging of ideas can create a shared meaning and reality.
  • The ability to engage authentically and be fully present with another person promotes trust, connection and respect.

9 Tips to Improve Your Conversations

  1. Check in with yourself before you begin speaking.
  2. Be sure that you are “present” with the other person.
  3. Identify your feelings about the person or topic.
  4. Think about the immediate and long-term outcomes that you desire. What meaning do you wish to convey?
  5. Speak only for yourself; do not assume that you can speak for others.
  6. Clear thinking is essential for effective communication. Be sure that you know what you mean. If you don’t know, no one else will either.
  7. Be mindful that your words match your feelings.
  8. Ensure that you are open and forthcoming and not withholding or defended.
  9. Be ready and willing to listen with 100 percent attention.

Talks At The End Of Life (Conversations No One Wants To Have)

 

Talks At The End Of Life (Conversations No One Wants To Have)

Someone you care for is at the end of his or her life. How do we talk with someone who is dying? No one is ever really prepared for conversations near the end of life. What do we say and how do we say it? These are very important talks for both the living and the dying.

 

Reasonable Expectations

Our own emotional vulnerability makes it difficult to find the right words and to avoid awkward displays of grief. While it is not our role to create meaningful moments of conversation, we can bring comfort to the dying person by recognizing and respecting their attitudes and feelings. [Read more…]

Communication Fitness — No Sweat!

I wonder if you made New Year’s resolutions to diet and exercise?  Some aspect of keeping physically fit seems to make our lists each year, even though many of us don’t stick with it. Here’s another area that could benefit from “shaping up” in 2014 and, it would provide life-changing benefits. I call it Communication Fitness and it doesn’t involve treadmills, weights or diets. Consider giving as much attention to the quality of your communication with others as you do to the more physical aspects of your life.

[Read more…]