Skip to content

UXL Blog

Creating Successful Leaders

Tag Archives: self-improvement goals

How many times has a project or a meeting broken down because of either A) a lack of communication or B) a miscommunication? Unfortunately, this is commonplace and can completely derail conversations, relationships, or projects. What’s more, in the era of work from home, effective communication is getting even trickier. It can be difficult to read body language over Zoom and it’s no longer possible to pop into someone’s office to ask a quick question (thus, making communication that much harder).

How can we strive to improve communication this year? Here are 3 ideas:

1. Practice active listening

There’s a difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is physiological and can be passive—we can hear sounds or sentences without bothering to interpret them. Listening, however, is active. It involves hearing and interpreting what you hear. Practice active listening by paying attention and absorbing what others say without formulating a response. Too often we’re so busy thinking about what we want to say, that we do not truly pay attention to the speaker.

2. Ask good questions

Even if you think you understand what’s been said, it’s a good idea to ask clarifying questions. Make sure you understand the who/what/where/how of something, before moving on to the next subject. You might try using the “I think I heard” approach. This approach involves repeating back what you think you heard, and asking if that is correct. For example:

“Just to clarify, it sounds like we are going to be prioritizing XYZ this quarter, is that correct?”

For more on asking good questions, please see this blog post all about clarity.

3. Keep meetings to a minimum

You may already suspect this, but it is NOT necessarily a good thing to have more meetings. People are suffering from meeting burnout (especially lately, with so many video chats). What’s more, according to Harvard Business Review, “meetings have increased in length and frequency over the past 50 years, to the point where executives spend an average of nearly 23 hours a week in them, up from less than 10 hours in the 1960s.”

That’s outrageous, and it’s completely unnecessary. Instead of focusing on meeting frequency, focus on meeting quality. Create specific meeting goals, make sure everyone knows their roles and responsibilities, and set a time limit for the meeting. If the meeting involves gathering feedback from your team, try challenging everyone to summarize their thoughts in a minute or two. Concision is key!

Lastly, ask yourself if a meeting is actually necessary. What needs to be accomplished? Can it be achieved through a few quick emails? If so, consider skipping the meeting.

Good communication is often hard to come by. Practice good listening, keep an honest and open line of communication, and work to avoid meeting burnout. Effective communication can be truly transformative for a workplace.



Tags: , , , , ,

Is it possible to train yourself to be adaptable?

While some people seem to have a natural ability to roll with the punches, almost everyone can train themselves to be more flexible. It just takes a little practice and dedication.

Why work on your personal adaptability?

The short answer:

Change is inevitable. You’re going to encounter change in all aspects of your life at some point or another—professional, interpersonal, and personal. So, why not be prepared?

The longer answer:

Lately, with workplaces adapting to a global pandemic, remote classroom learning, and working from home becoming the new norm, things are quite different than they used to be. All those changes have necessitated a good deal of flexibility, and I don’t see that going away anytime soon. This is new turf for many people (and companies). Parents are learning how to juggle work with their children’s distance learning. Managers are learning how to effectively interact with their teams when regular face-to-face meetings are no longer an option. Companies are figuring out how to create personalized experiences for customers through online platforms and other creative means.

Even when the current pandemic is nothing more than a memory, we are bound to encounter major changes again soon. Technology is changing at a rapid clip, public sentiments are constantly shifting, and societal norms are in constant flux. If there’s one thing you can count on in the future, it’s change.

So, how do you train yourself to adapt?

1. Challenge yourself every day

Routine is good, but it’s also healthy to break that routine every once in a while. Commit to doing one thing every day that is slightly uncomfortable for you. Maybe that means working in a new location—perhaps somewhere in your house where you don’t have a complete office setup. Maybe that means calling someone that you don’t know well (a potential client, perhaps) or someone whom you’ve been putting off calling, for whatever reason. Another way to challenge yourself is by learning a new skill. Take an online course or download an app to help you learn anything from film-making to Excel to a new language.

2. Practice letting go

A big part of becoming more adaptable is realizing that you do not have control over everything, and THAT IS OKAY. In fact, it’s good to rescind control every once in a while and let others (or circumstances) take the reins. If you find yourself in a position where you are no longer in the driver’s seat, take a deep breath and a step back. Trust that things will work out without your intervention.

To train yourself to become better at letting go, practice giving others assignments and letting them have autonomy over their projects. If you lead a team, let that team hold brainstorming or strategy sessions without you and trust that they will achieve results. They may not take the exact path you would have taken, but they will likely reach the same destination.

3. Open your mind

Mental flexibility is crucial when it comes to adaptability. It’s healthy to open yourself to a variety of perspectives and points of view, because (surprise!) you may not have all the answers. To increase your mental agility, try practicing active listening. Truly absorb and listen to what others are saying and challenge yourself to ask good questions. After the conversation, try repeating the information you learned to yourself.

Another part of mental flexibility is realizing that there is not usually one way to do things or one way of thinking about things. This realization requires a certain amount of humility. It also takes a curious mind and a willingness to learn. Be a little vulnerable and demonstrate that you are ready and eager to learn and expand your way of doing things.

Adaptability is a critical skill to have today, and it’s bound to be a critical skill tomorrow too. Even if you’re not flexible by nature, you can endeavor to train yourself to be a little more flexible. All it takes is a plan and your commitment.


Tags: , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: