Habits and Routines

Habits and Routines

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19 APRIL 2019

written by Mike

HABITS AND ROUTINES

 

I’ve always believed that people are creatures of habits. We do have the power to innovate, improvise and disrupt; however, most of the time we quickly fall into routines, leading some parts of our lives on autopilot.

I don’t view it as a bad thing though. Even looking at my body, most of the functions run on autopilot, and it would be distracting if I had to remember to breathe or digest my meals.

I’m happy to not think about it.

Moving outside of our bodies, daily routines as small as brushing the teeth and eating; going to work and completing monthly goals also happen semi-automatically. We are, just like with breathing, free to stop but we don’t do that, happily following the routines of our days.

I think that having a routine helps to free our minds so we can focus on things that matter, or require more attention. However, what we should think where do our routines lead us. Unfortunately, some habits can quickly develop into toxic routines that not only stop us from growing but do a lot of harm too.

The dangerous aspect is that we don’t realise when we cultivate these habits.

I had my realisation about four years ago. On the surface, I was doing good. I had a good job and a great partner. I’ve attended a gym and made time for evening leisure. However, when you looked behind that veil, the picture wasn’t as pretty.

I suffered from insomnia, sometimes having two or three nights in a row with a very little sleep, I felt tired, weak and slowly started gaining weight.

Even though the symptoms were there, I set them aside, continuing my daily, weekly and monthly routines until I crashed. It all culminated with a period of a few weeks when I became depressed and started questioning my whole life choices. It wasn’t pretty.

However, I also realised that I had to make some significant changes. I wrote down my routines, my habits, my daily actions and had an honest look at how I lead my life.

I figured that my state was the reaction to my choices and it was clear that I made some wrong ones along the way.

 

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From the list, I could see, straight away, some habits that in my opinion were doing more harm than good.

I was attending the gym, but there was no schedule, and I skipped more sessions that I went to. 

I consumed way too much coffee, and my diet needed to shake up also.

I didn’t smoke much, but two, three cigarettes per day were a norm.

I had a glass or two of wine almost every night, and I used recreational drugs for relaxation.

I used to be an avid reader, but I stopped reading books and turned into watching TV or playing games instead.

These were just some of the things that I wrote down. I needed to be as honest as possible because without that I knew that it would be challenging to turn my routines around.

Next was a plan for drastic measures. The way I laid the things out was if I take a 180-degree turn on my habits, I should feel the opposite – happy and energised.

I wrote the initial plan and got to work.

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Another thing to understand is that habits work on the same rule as compounding interest – they take a bit of time to start producing results. And this is something that throws a lot of people off.

We start dieting; we start exercising, we pick up a new skill and then after a couple of weeks, even months – there’s nothing. We feel the same or worse, and it looks like the effort was in vain.

What I’ve learned is that we need to zoom out and look at these things in macro rather than micro scale. There is no such thing as shortcuts and planning for a more prolonged investment takes that pressure off. So when you pick up a new skill that you practice three days a week, think about when you will be in 6 months, a year even rather than a month or two, and then get excited about what’s going to happen.

Also, take into consideration that more than often other people will see the results first. The best example is with going to the gym. Because you see yourself in the mirror every day, you won’t necessarily see the significant results. However, when you see some of your mates after a few months, they will certainly notice the changes! And hopefully, let you know how good you are doing.

On the other side, it’s not enough to plan for that year-long result. I’m also a proponent of tracking the everyday results, to write down your schedule and have a bit of accountability.

You start exercising – write down your daily progress.

You start dieting – plan your meals.

You pick up a guitar – schedule the daily exercises.

Habits can be about anything, and as long as they help you grow, keep you healthy and energised, they will make your life better. And inadvertently will positively affect everyone around you, without even knowing.

Yes, it takes time to form new habits, and routines so don’t give up until it feels what you are doing is natural and part of you.

I’m not saying that it is easy though, it is straightforward to destroy good habits with a few bad ones, and it happens quicker than forming new ones.

It may be challenging to start, and I would recommend a book by Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit which will help you to understand the trigger and award of your actions. And what to do to change them.

If you struggle to see your bad habits, ask your closest ones and let them be as honest as possible. Nobody is perfect, but at least you will know your starting point.

So what happened to me?

It took a long time, there were some drastic changes, ups and downs on the way but after four years I can say that at least I feel, like a different person. I look at my old habits and think, why didn’t I challenge myself earlier, why did I think it was good for me?

But, that’s the trick, when you are in the middle of something it is difficult to have that objective opinion on the matter.

Sometimes we need a little push.

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Is Solopreneurship Worth It?

Is Solopreneurship Worth It?

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19 FEBRUARY 2019

written by Mike

IS SOLOPRENEURSHIP

WORTH IT?

 

You may have noticed that being an entrepreneur, running a business, even freelancing became quite trendy in recent years. It seems that everyone is working towards being their own boss, having freedom of choice and control over their day. Add to that, with the development of the internet and global economy the focus is on individuality, ‘I’ has a more strength that it used to in the past.

When I talk to my grandmother, who was a refugee during communist oppression, her growing up and later life was much different from mine. It was all about community, being together and working towards goals that helped everyone around. Today, it is still about community but we all have an individual voice and a platform to project it.

Is it for better or for worse?

I can’t be a judge of that, but what I have learned is that running a team, or business works better with the ‘old days’ mindset.

Being a part of a team means compromises. It means that you won’t always get your way, that sometimes you have to admit that your ideas may not be the best solution to a problem. 

When I left my job I knew that I wanted to do something on my own – to be my own boss, make my own decisions. However, I also understood the trap, working on the business is very different from working in the business. Creating a job for yourself is easy, but creating a self-sustaining machine that works without you – not so simple.

Being part of the team means synergy – a mix of ideas that bounce off each other, that grow together and form into one solution – it’s a creative process, and it comes with pain. Egos need to be stored away, individual ambitions left outside the door.

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It doesn’t matter if I’m talking about the bigger team which I was a part of in the past, or much smaller group working on Casefile podcast. The answer is clear – I wouldn’t be able to do it on my own.

I found that being a solopreneur offers freedom, but also has blind spots. Fortunately, when we left out jobs, it wasn’t just me – it was always my partner and I. If I wasn’t sure of something – she offered her point of view and vice versa.

Even a team of just two people had an exponential advantage over just being on my own. We tend to get fixated on ideas and develop a tunnel vision that omits better solutions to the problem. Another set of eyes and ears can and often will offer a fresh take on something that drives you mad for a long time.

Of course, some work can require the alone time – art, writing, composing to name a few. Once the tasks and goals are discussed between Casefile team, we go each way and do work on our own, without supervision. That’s where the creative process of being a solopreneur helps. In the above example, no one tells me how to edit, write music or mix the podcast – that’s my area of expertise.

After the tasks are completed, we get together again and offer feedback to each other – constructive input that it’s always welcomed. There may be something that I thought was a brilliant move, but other team members don’t think so we work hard to reach a consensus and make sure that the final, in this example podcast, is polished, so it satisfies all parties involved.

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Sometimes I like being alone, and other times I hate it. When I work I close the door and can get annoyed if someone interrupts my flow. However, I also need someone – a flatmate, my partner – to be in downstairs office. Someone I can ask for a second opinion and feedback when I get stuck.

It’s not always possible to have that, but the easiest way to overcome this is the internet. Besides being a part of a fantastic team and living with creative people, I’m also a part of online communities. There are so many people around the globe that share similar ideas and have the same problems.

It’s easy to post a question, a query and ask for feedback. There is a 99% chance that someone in the past had a similar problem to yours and found a solution. It’s much faster to follow that rather than spending time on finding the fix yourself.

We are tribal ‘animals’, communities and teams thrive when they work towards the same goals, the potential of group thinking is limitless.

Think about your favourite companies, music bands, films. It’s extremely rare that these projects came to fruition without any help, with just one person doing it all. Even authors have editors, marketers, PR companies and designers that help to publish a book. It may be just one name on the cover, but you can be sure that it was a team of dedicated people that helped to put it there.

Last but not least, running and being part of a team is difficult. I’m a fan of Ray Dalio’s take on that, his ideas of meritocracy and transparency. Dictatorships rarely work out, democracy can often lead to a standstill, but meritocracy can work wonders if done right. 

I don’t want to be negative on solopreneurs and like I said before, I enjoy being alone. However, my short professional experience taught me over and over again than having a team of people is always better than trying to figure out everything on my own.

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When Do You Quit?

When Do You Quit?

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17 JANUARY 2019

written by Mike

WHEN DO YOU QUIT?

Running a business is hard, running a startup is even more difficult. But, you know what is even harder – running a failing business.

I heard somewhere that it is more rewarding to run a successful business that may not be in your area of interests than running a failing one, that you are passionate about. Reading through business books, blog and articles you may often stumble upon contradicting information. For some reason, catchy-sounding lines are the basis for the whole ideology. 

Have you ever read something in the lines of?

Fail fast.

Failure is a learning opportunity.

Don’t give up, push through mistakes.

Persistence is the key.

It’s always darkest before dawn, and it’s always hardest before the finish line.

I’m not saying I don’t agree with the above. I do think persistence is the key, and we shouldn’t frown upon failure. However, is it always the case? Is persistence always a virtue? A quote that I think could be the best answer to the questions is:

Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.

Most of us would agree that putting more money and effort into a failing project is not the smartest idea; however, we all do it. On the other hand, we read sayings like ‘most businesses take around 18 months to be profitable’.

Which one is true? When do you stop, when do you keep pushing?

The first step to understand the situation is understanding a common sunken cost fallacy.

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Sunken cost fallacy is a cognitive bias that, in summary, means an irrational clinging to things that have already cost you somethingWhen you invested time, money and effort into something, it’s hard to let go. The aversion to loss and pain is strong and can distort your judgment.

The fallacy is around whenever you look. Relationships, careers, businesses – people are afraid to quit, even though the tough decision would work out for the better in the long run.

To know where to cut costs, exit the investment or quit the project, I have learned to look at the problem from different angles.

Would I invest in the business right now?

Would I choose the same career right now?

Do I want to do this a year from now?

I learned my lessons from many projects I started and quit, some in time, some a bit too late. However, I can guarantee that with time you will get better at noticing the signs, you will see if it’s worth pursuing your goal. I don’t want to end on a vague note so here are the most recent examples of ‘quitting’ that come to my mind.

A year or so ago, my brother, my partner and I decided to start an Amazon FBA business. After weeks of research, we found our first niche, the product and the manufacturer. We scouted the competition, we had a name and started working on website and packaging. We paid for samples, we have done tests and were ready to go.

However, we weren’t 100% happy with the numbers. We knew it wasn’t exactly what we had in mind, but we were so far already in the process. The decision? We scrapped the whole idea and decided to start from scratch.

Some older projects were a YouTube channel I started with my girlfriend – we run it for three months and shut it down.

I started a blog on sound engineering and decided to go Adsense route – to make money from advertising and grow the site. After months of creating the site and content – I scrapped it altogether.

We’ve started a design agency with a focus on fitness, which we ended only after a couple of months and working with few clients.

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There were many others, but you can see the pattern. The good thing about it is that from each project we had something that we could recycle into something else. The newest ideas usually stop at the research phase, in the past, it took us too long until we decided to pause.

I also have an unhappy example of a close family member who didn’t want to stop and with every loan, every contribution he made to his failing business it became harder and harder to quit. It eventually led to bankruptcy and debt.

Quitting is not as bad as it sounds, especially when you understand that it is better to pivot. Of course, with time and experience, it becomes much clearer when to do that. There are so many opportunities out there, the fear of missing out is real – diving straight into a new project may not always be the best way to do that.

For me, initial research is essential, if something feels off that this stage – it won’t be much better later on. Then it’s all about setting goals and sticking to them, give it time to develop but don’t go overboard. Some businesses can be profitable from the start, and most take some time to get there especially when you add the cost of labour, first promotion, marketing and growth.

Not too mention that first profit will usually be invested back into the business, therefore it can be difficult to wait that long.

There are few ways to do it though, starting a project on the side while working a job is one, getting investment is another option. However have it planned before and be always ready for the worst case scenario, because rarely things go our way.

Just a few days ago we got an email that prompted us to re-think the whole strategy for a new idea. Everything was ready, everything was in place, and yet the ‘black swan’ event appeared and put us on our toes. Always be prepared for the adjustment.

If you plan to test it out for three months and after that, you do not see the results, it’s time to re-think the strategy. It’s a delicate balance to know when to stop or keep going, in the end, it comes down to experience and doing it over and over again. At least that’s what works for my team and me.

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Two Cents on Teamwork

Two Cents on Teamwork

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16 DECEMBER 2018

written by Mike

Two Cents on Teamwork

 

Everything is all about teamwork these days. Synergy, team get-togethers, motivational speeches and management courses are all about running a proficient and a happy team. A quick detour to LinkedIn is an excellent example of then, every hiring agency writes about the importance of the team and team culture.

I’m also guilty of that, in the past I wrote about how much better it is to work in the team versus being a solopreneur. How it helps to come up with better ideas and achieve the goals much faster. However, I’ve also learned, through a hard way, that being part of the team – as a member or supervisor – is a tough task.

It often goes like this – at the beginning of a new team in a startup or freshly created environment (or just a new team of people in an established company) it’s always about the direction and management.

It’s difficult enough to have strangers spend so much time together, and it’s especially tough to get them working towards the same goals. The first step is to get everyone aligned and pumped up. Get them excited to go to work every day.

But, let’s say that everyone is motivated. Excited about the project, the opportunity, money, status and what have you. They understand their place in the machine, and they start working hard. Weeks and months pass by, team members help each other out, the workload gets big but everyone is on board, the success seems to be just around the corner.

Then it happens. The business starts running well, and the project gets recognition. Customers, users and fans love the product, the company and the team. The hard work paid off, and the show starts running like a well-oiled machine. Everyone is still working hard, but there is no need for constant meetings, get-togethers or even helping each other out as much. It’s because everyone knows what they are doing, and they are doing it well.

After these few paragraphs you may think to yourself – so what? If everything is going so well, what seems to be a problem?

I had a bit of luck to be in this particular position a few times. When everything worked great, the consensus was that because people know what they are doing, management can take a step back. That’s right, there is no need for holding hands anymore, but without a proper feedback platform it is quite easy to start taking things for granted.

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When everything is going great, the business is thriving, sales are coming through the door, you get new likes, viewers and positive comments it is tempting to think that you figured it out. Finally, after all this time, you found the magic formula and repeating it will bring more success.

There is no need to overcomplicate anymore.

In my short experience, these are the times that you have to be even more aware than before – to plan for the unexpected, to tackle small issues, to communicate even more.

Unattended issues tend to appear when we least expect them when we think that everything is and will always go our way. Maintaining relationships is as important as starting them, it doesn’t matter if it’s at home or in your business.

If you are in a position of any power, make yourself available, encourage conversations and transparency. Make sure that everyone is aware of the feedback platform and safe space where they can speak their minds.

What I found is that it is easy to forget that. To think that everybody around you knows they are appreciated and valued, that the work speaks for itself.

It’s not as easy. There are as many approaches to management and teamwork as many people in the world and most of us need some validation, praise and feeling of significance. To know that others value what we do and appreciate it.

It can be as easy as setting up a weekly team meeting when you catch up on everything and anything that happened: not just work but any issues, as casual or as serious as they can be. Making sure that everyone has a chance to speak and is free to discuss anything.

Emails that merely say you appreciate your team’s hard work are essential too, making sure that the work makes the difference and without their input, the project wouldn’t be as successful.

The big issue is also that you have to back up your words and make sure you mean it. Only recently I had a chat with someone close to me who complained about their boss.

On the surface, they were asked for an opinion, input and comments and were praised for it. However only few days later it turned out that everything they said was disregarded and the management has gone with their own decision.

That’s fine too; however, it wasn’t explained why that happened, and for the rest of the week, the boss strategically avoided meeting with the said persons.

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It’s all about feeling that you mean something, that you are not just a replaceable cog in the machine. You can disagree, and civilised arguments should be welcomed as avoiding the issue almost never ends well.

I worked in environments that both respect and appreciate every input as well as in the top-down hierarchy when the hard work was expected, and only mistakes were pointed out.

I remember one time after working overtime for weeks and overstretching myself and the team to bring the big project to a close it was finally over. We were tired and drained, and when we had our end of the project review, the management picked on a couple of errors that we made utterly omitting all the hard work that went into finishing the project.

I don’t need constant praise and pats on my back, but even though this happened years ago, I still vividly remember that moment. My disappointment and feeling worthless stayed with me for months and ultimately led to leaving the team.

Each way of management has pros and cons, but I’m more motivated to press extra hard when I know that my input is appreciated and mistakes are learning opportunities. I would like to believe that most people are like that too.

I’m all for the tough love approach, and I hate tiptoeing around the issues, however transparency, understanding and respect do not exclude any of that.

People are afraid of speaking their mind, and they want to keep their jobs, they don’t want to cause trouble. Making sure that from the get-go they know that they can raise any issue they want will make problem-solving much more comfortable and faster, but without proper communication channels, it won’t work.

We don’t hear it often but success can often be a trigger for a downfall too, and it usually happens where you least expect it.

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Make Money Freelancing Online

Make Money Freelancing Online

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07 AUGUST 2018
written by Mike

MAKE MONEY

FREELANCING ONLINE

 

Making money online is a relatively new thing. People were doing business around the world for hundreds and hundreds of years, but the idea that you can sit in your bedroom with a laptop and run a company is new.

It may seem obvious to you now but a lot of people, even my age, aren’t sure how to start and if they could do it. The beautiful thing is that anyone can. There are no restrictions, no limitation and you will only be judged by the value you bring to the table.

It’s not easy, and things are changing very fast. However, anyone can start now, right this second.

There are many ways of making money online, but today I want to focus on freelancing, selling your skills online. It, of course, applies to lots of professions but I will be using audio production as my example.

 

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Your Online Presence

I know many people want to go against the trend, that’s good, not all directions are positive. However, if you’re going to start doing work online it will be much harder if you don’t have Facebook, Twitter or other social (and not just social) media profiles. You need to be visible.

There are hundreds of thousands of people hustling online, how can you stay a few steps ahead of everyone?

Start creating your online presence today. Don’t think about making money just yet, but start creating content and joining conversations online. It’s challenging to give personalised advice on the topic; it all depends on your strengths and likes.

For example, the big trend right now is video, Instagram rules and blogging is a thing of the past. Think about what you would like to post and create profiles around that, maybe it’s a podcast, not a vlog?

 

Skills and Gear

Next step is writing down your skills and available equipment. Try to niche yourself down; generalists don’t charge near what experts make. For example, with my abilities and system, I could do a lot of things in music and sound production space but my niche at this moment is podcasting and audio storytelling.

The skill needs to be transferable online, if you are a photographer, it will be hard to take photos online, but you could offer product photography services.

Go to top accounts on eBay or Amazon, join some Facebook discussion groups and offer your services. Online selling is all about the perception, and the sellers know about this. Set up a small studio at home, get people to send you the products and charge for photos.

With audio, you could be offering music production, mixing, mastering, editing, scoring, design and other services that I don’t even know.

Also if your skill isn’t transferable, think what can you add to your portfolio, what else can you learn. I was working as a dialogue editor on blockbusting movies; it’s safe to say to they wouldn’t allow me to edit their content in my bedroom. However, podcasting and audiobooks are more comfortable, not as much pressure. I just had to learn the new medium and adjust my skills.

The gear also matters, with an old computer you won’t be able to do much, especially in audio. Think about where you can upgrade and what can you do with what you have. For some time I was working solely on trial and demo versions until I could afford a full license on top of the shelf software.

 

Platforms for freelancers

There are many places online where you can find work. Not all of them are great, and most are so-called ‘race to the bottom’ on price. However, it’s a good enough start to learn how the whole online world works.

Platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, People Per Hour allow you to create a profile and bid for jobs, usually very low paid.

Apart from that, write to people on LinkedIn, studios and production houses. Be upfront and say that you are looking for freelance work, they may write back to you, when they are under a deadline.

Facebook groups, Reddit and forums are other places to look for work. If you are hunting for freelance jobs you can also check out listings from Jooble.

It is the hard part as it can take weeks before you start moving, however, don’t be discouraged and keep the ball rolling. One client leads to another and another and another, and you never know who will you meet online.

That’s how I started on Casefile.

 

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Areas to consider for audio professionals

Editing

Look at podcasts and audiobooks. Right now it’s the best time to get in the game as a lot of people are either starting their podcasts or doing audiobook narrations. Of course, not all of them will pay well but if you are starting out, contact smaller profiles. It will give you time to learn, hone your skills and make some side cash.

Let’s say you want to charge £50 per podcast (I know it’s not a lot, but you have to start somewhere) and do ten shows per week. That’s £500 per week, £2000 per month working from home. Then when you are good enough, leave the smaller pods for someone else and move up the ladder.

If you know how to produce music, offer that. Again podcasts are a great area to explore as most podcasters don’t know much about sound production and they will need your help. Writing intros, theme music or even bespoke score for storytelling shows could be a great way to make extra money and practice your skills.

 

Audio Restoration 

Audio restoration is another niche area to keep an eye on. A lot of content creators dismiss the art of recording sound and leave it until the end. Then they often realise that their recording is not as good as it should be and it doesn’t only apply to podcasters. Youtube creators, narrators, online teachers – find people who are making money online, and if you think that you could help them, offer your services.

Audio restoration requires specialised software and skills but if I can learn it, then anyone can.

 

Online Courses

Online courses are booming right now. There are plenty of platforms such as Coursera or Udemy, and of course, people selling their course on Teachable. The video is one thing, but again, most creators dismiss the importance of audio. Search for courses and creators who achieved some success and offer them your help. By making their work sound better, hopefully, they can find more students and develop their practice, and usually, with online courses, there is a lot of material to go through.

 

Acquire extra skills

The secret to being successful online is to have multiple streams of income or to be top of the world expert in one thing. So unless you are bullish on one thing only, start thinking what extra skills you can acquire that make sense for you and your business.

When I started online work a few years ago, I didn’t know what to do, but I needed cash right away. Audio work is niche and harder to find than video production, as everyone is jumping on the medium. I started offering video editing and production services, first video for free as a ‘test’.

I have no professional backing, and I’ve never done paid video editing work before. I started learning Premiere, and After Effects and for the first few months when I worked on my online presence, 80% of my income was from video editing. It may sound weird given the fact that I’m an audio professional, but it’s true.

Also, but knowing both sound and audio, I could offer more value than other people, and suddenly I had twice as many options as others.

Many creators who needed video editing asked me to clean up the sound too, so I had plenty to do. It was crucial to develop that skill and have that income, because the first year or so when we were working and creating Casefile we had no money.

Think what else you want to do, how can you do it online and start hustling!

 

Learn, read, train, practice and apply!

A beginning is often hard, but we can’t stop progress, even if you are not keen on the state of technology, social media and the online world right now – get used to it and embrace it.

The future will be digital so start making the transition right now, and you never know who you will meet out there. Every now and again, one of the ‘another jobs’ can turn into a long-term relationship, and an awesome project like Casefile did for me.

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Intro to Effective Communication

Intro to Effective Communication

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05 JUNE 2018

written by Mike

INTRO TO

EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

 

Effective communication is a bedrock of all relationships – inside and outside of business. An idea isn’t worth much if it’s not communicated with others, making the skill highly valuable.

After working in many different jobs, as well as running my own business, I noticed a lot of patterns when it comes to relationships between people. It may be co-workers, managers, other business owners – it’s clear to see when you meet someone who is right in communication and speaking, and who isn’t.

Like any other skill, communication needs practice and studying. Reading books, watching YouTube videos or listening to audiobooks will help but getting in front of people and talking is where the training takes place.

For that, there are groups such as Toastmaster, where the safe environment helps to hone the skill and allows for critical feedback. I’ve been attending one, and it’s a perfect club to get out of the comfort zone and learn valuable skills!

Even if you work mostly from home (like I do now) communication is vital; it may be even more as with ‘face to face’ meetings you also have the whole body language to help you convey the message. It’s hard to do that as well on email or conference call.

In my opinion, first and last impressions count the most. The first impression rule is well known, most of us jump to conclusions quickly and judge other before we even speak to them. Making a good first impressions goes a long way.

However, I also think that last impressions are as important as first.

How many times did you attend an awesome event, music gig, party to have the end spoil it somehow?

It is illogical – why would just the small part of the experience ruin the whole thing? But when the spoiling bit is at the end – it usually leaves us with the bad taste.

Same with impressions. You can meet an amazing person and have an interesting conversation, but if the persons do something at the end that creates a dissonance with your beliefs, it can change the whole perception.

Some people are naturals; they make friends quickly, they are easy to talk to, they are extroverts. Others are not. However, the lucky thing is that the skills of effective communication are just that – a skill. And any skill can be learned and polished when you put in enough work and practice.

In this short article, I won’t be sharing lessons from the book or a course. Instead, I will share you a few things that in my opinion you should do and shouldn’t do in social situations.

All of that is from experience, from situations I observed and decided to learn from.

 

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WHAT NOT TO DO

 

Lunch and table manners.

When I worked at a big company, we often had team meetings over lunch. It wasn’t just meetings, sometimes we went out to celebrate the end of the project and had a lovely meal in local pubs. One of our colleagues would quite often answer his phone at the table and talk loudly, to his friend of family members. We were an international collective so it didn’t help that he spoke in his native language and no one could understand anything, therefore making the whole ordeal even more awkward.

Dress Code.

Even though I worked in places without a strict dress code, some people would take it to the extreme. Casual still means taking care of your hygiene and basic grooming.

Gossiping.

Gossiping is the worst you can do at work. Unfortunately, it is the most straightforward tool to make friends – a common enemy always helps. However, you shouldn’t talk about others in a way you wouldn’t want others to talk about you.

Negativity.

Having a co-worker who is always negative about everything is not an example of effective communication. Complaining just for the sake of it never helps.

Swearing.

Casual environments are great as not everyone likes to wear a suit to work. However swearing needs to be taken with caution, it may be ok to do that around good mates from work, but when clients are around, it’s best not to risk it.

Personal life.

Unless asked, there is no need to diverge into personal life and problems, especially at work. Of course the longer you spent at the place of work, the more you became like a family, and you can share with others. However, when you just started, try to keep it professional.

 

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WHAT TO DO

 

Greet everyone with a smile.

It helps, especially in the morning. Even if you don’t see a person, like on a conference call – having a positive tonality in your voice will make the communication so much easier.

Offer help.

Whenever possible, offer help. Not a piece of advice or solution but help, more than often just the offer will be appreciated.

Dress appropriately.

Dress to impress is the saying. I would add to that – dress in what makes you feel good and look good. Most people are quick to judge, especially with their eyes.

Of course, we all want to move past that, but having a good style does not hurt.

Thank people.

If someone offers you help, advice or feedback – thank them. You may not agree or use the information, but be thankful for the effort rather than criticise them.

Understand body language.

Like I said before, some people are natural at this, others (like me) aren’t. However, we are lucky to live in times where we have access to limitless information – read books, watch courses, study effective communicators.

Learn how to use your body to your advantage and get comfortable with body language.

Don’t argue in hallways.

Hallways are usually big and resonant. If you have a personal matter to resolve or a conflict brewing, there is no need to put it on display. Especially in a professional environment.

Have a discussion in the office or isolate room, somewhere where others can’t hear you – otherwise you will start the gossip trend.

Learn basic psychology, biases and fallacies.

People often give in to assumptions, jump to conclusions and are quick to judge.

I am guilty of it as much as anybody else. In my opinion, learning about the mind, the psychology and faults in our thinking help to develop logical thinking and effective communication. It’s easy to go into a defensive mode when you don’t agree with someone, rather than to listen, by studying the triggers and heuretics of the mind we can quickly make the communications better.

 

The presented arguments are just tip of the iceberg. The call to action is to learn more, observe the patterns and develop the skill of communication. It’s so easy to coast on what we already know – but it’s only by challenging our ideas, habits and understandings we can genuinely progress and make the relationships with others more meaningful.

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