Awareness #3

Awareness is key to becoming an effective leader in social events.  You need to be aware of your gaps in life.  These are your weaknesses. When you close these gaps you will grow personally.  You also need to be aware of your strengths so that you can leverage them.  The best way to find out your strengths aside from trying new things everyday is to set quiet time for self-reflection. Socialites are efficient at watching where a conversation is going. This is done by observing behavior and characteristics.  This can only come with experience and practice.  When planning a dinner party take note of different personalities of the guests. Be alert to which ones will clash. Blunt people tend to not like other blunt people.   Look at the body language of people you are talking to. If they are relaxed, they will be leaning on something. If they are fidgeting then something could be on there mind. If they keep checking their phone or watch then maybe they are in a hurry. Watch their eyes. Always try to maintain eye contact with whoever you are in a conversation with. Your eyes send more messages than you tongue can send.  You can show someone you are listening by just making eye contact and nodding your head.  If you see their eyes dart around then maybe they are focused on something else.  This doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t interested in you, but that they attention is divided.  A lot of people find it hard to concentrate one thing for at least 60 seconds.  Concentration takes patience, but those who focus on the topic at hand will be great conversationalist.  I consider keen concentration, focus and awareness “Lifehacker” skills.  A life hack is a colloquial term for any skill that provides life productivity. Check out the lifehacker website for more information.

Once you become really good at reading body language you will be able to read lips.  You will be able to hear things that you don’t normally hear. You will be able to read what people are thinking without them telling you. If you train yourself to learn the physical movements of the lips you will be able to hear from afar with your eyes.  This helps at loud bars and concerts as well as many other occasions.  Websites exist filled with games and guides on how to read lips.  Try out lipreading.org’s exercises.  I challenge you to listen out for a new sound everyday or try to notice something that you didn’t see before. I challenge you to take a break from technology use on your daily commute. Pay attention to details, advanced users will be able to read lips, this helps with information gathering and it’s fun to show off at restaurants with your date. You can tell him or her what the other table is saying .I like to play this game with my best friend when we go people watching. We will act out what another couple or table is saying by saying words the words to ourselves.

Observe your surroundings, by asking questions and you will notice a lot of things you haven’t seen before. When you tell friends about your new exciting adventures you go on or new product ideas. Pay attention to the ones who consistently give you negativity. If they show resentment or jealousy, maybe include them next time and they will be happier. If not then it’s time to cut those ties loose.  Their negative energy more than likely has lasting affects on you and your success.  Abolish the haters, negative Nancies, and saboteurs from your life. You know those debbie downers, the people that are always telling you that something is too hard, or too weird, or too strange. Around 24 years old, I realized that majority of the things I’ve done to get where I was at that point were from doing unorthodox things. For example, the day I graduated college I moved into an apartment three hours away from home then started a new job the next day, contrary to what my parents wanted me to do.  Several years after that, I switched careers from food service to information technology, against one of my former professor’s recommendations. She said that I wouldn’t excel in the field considering the grades I got in my entry level computer courses.  However, I learned that there will always be work available for two types of people. Those who are willing to learn and those who are honest workers.

Another topic of awareness is charity.  You must strive to be aware of neighbors in need. When you help others enrich their lives you become happier and your life becomes more meaningful as well.  Try to learn at least one thing every day and help at least one person everyday. I challenge you to do with by not lending money but lending time and words of encouragement and affirmation.  If you want to reach the most people you need to broaden the types of people you can influence. You need to be able to effectively communicate with the young and old, the rich and poor.  I’m always willing to lend a helping hand to co-workers, friends, and family.  If they someone asked them to describe me in three words, I am certain that one of them would be helpful or caring.  That warmth that I send them generates willingness and likeability. So, offer a to help with dinner, to take out the trash, to wash the car, or help with a big project. The good friends won’t forget your kindness.

Celebrate Awareness - Take 2

Every Christmas I send about 20+ Christmas cards to special friends from work, church, and my social life.  I send them as a reminder of the relationship we have. I want them to know that I cherish them and I think about them during the special time of year when most thoughts are consumed with meeting family. This is one of the ways I nurture my relationships.  Social networks will break down if not maintained from time to time.  Think about the friends you haven’t seen in a while. Friendship takes two to maintain but it takes one to start. Be the person who picks up the phone and calls that friend you haven’t talked to in months or years.

In order to cross barriers of age, build a connection based on interests just like you would with someone who is your age.  Older people tend to value maturity, stability, and vision in a younger person while younger people tend to value, uniqueness, intelligence, and familiarity.  Use these interests and values to bridge gaps in conversations with those who are a different age than you.

You must be aware of your own other-identity. Embrace it. Being comfortable in your own shoes develops confidence and knowledge.  I didn’t start being comfortable with who I was until I found out who I was. Self-identification is the longest journey. Some of us never stop asking who we are. The key is to decide who you want to be then stick to that model.  It’s hard to be friends with someone who is a different personality every day.  We like consistency in our friendships. We like to know who we can count on.   Never apologize for being yourself.  If you apologize for something that you can’t help doing because it’s your personality then you are betraying yourself.  Write down three to five things that you think you are good at then write down three to five things that other people say you are good at. Practice on transferring those skills to another hobby or field.  It is also helpful to mention how important it is to be in tune with your emotions. Some people meditate others like to have quiet time. However you like to medicate yourself, do it. I just want to focus on being aware of your emotions, how they come off in a  conversation and how you interpret other’s emotions.  I take after my mom emotionally and my dad physically. Even though I might not be mad or bored, sometimes my body language and facial expressions show it. After enough getting tired of people always thinking that, I decided to change how I express myself.  I learned that I have to look a tad overly excited in order to avoid people thinking i’m bored or angry. I’m sure you have met that one person who always looks like they are bored, sad, angry or what have you. It can take a while but it is possible to change that expression. You just have to practice in the mirror, then in conversation.  After you start changing your expressions you will receive unsolicited feedback.

Practice observing conversations. Don’t talk much, just listen. If anyone asks why you are so quiet. Just tell them you are thinking.  Observe the direction the conversation is going. Notice the tone of people’s voices. Is one person dominating the conversation? Are there any loud tones? Are there a lot of hand gestures?  If you do talk, practice thinking of what you are going to say, evaluate it, breath, then say it. This sounds like a lot of steps if you haven’t done it before. But once you get good at it , it will become a habit, and eventually you will be comfortable enough to know how the people you are talking to will react to what you are going to say. Remember habits only take 21 days to create.  If you naturally talk a lot then practice focusing on the content of the chatter. Are people saying things that are relevant and worth saying? What the participants say to change topic? Try focusing on talking only when you have something groundbreaking to say. If you only talk when you have something monumental to say then people will pay attention to you more when you speak and you will learn what is really important to say.  You will realize silence is okay. People will live if you don’t tell them how awesome your dog walking was this morning.  Your time is better spent observing.  Remember it is hard to listen and speak at the same time. I don’t know anyone who has mastered that.

Observing makes you aware of other people’s habits. You will be able to select your friends and acquaintances better by observing how people interact with each other.  Go people watching at different spots. Take mental or physical notes of the similarities and differences between people and cultures at the places you choose. For instance, go to two different shopping malls. Then, check out two different coffee shops. You can see differences in the people that would go to a Starbucks versus those who would go to a local, mom and pop cafe. It’s great to pay attention to detail but you don’t want to over do it. Practice deciding which details about a person are defining attributes and which aren’t unique.  Also, focus on which body parts on a person speak the loudest because everyone presents themselves differently.

Skill-Zodiac

Regardless of what you believe about the zodiac, it is an effective tool for dealing with people in all five areas of my speaking with purpose framework.  My focus is mainly on the personality traits part.  I’ve used it to predict new acquaintance’s personalities. I’ve also used it to profile people I am about to meet.  These actions are apart of being aware of personality dynamics and preparing for social encounters.

Here’s a few examples. You’ve just met a girl your age at a gathering with some mutual friends.  Here birthday came up in conversation at the event so you know she is a cancer.. Check the full guide you received in your package for more information on the using the zodiac.  In the few hours you all spent together, you can tell she likes attention from you which means she’s into you but could be quite needy.  You have reinforced these discoveries using the personality guide that shows Cancer signs desire a moderate amount of attention from their friends.  However you are a gemini who doesn’t want to be responsible for entertaining someone for too long.  Seeing these trends you make a decision that she could be more possessive later down the line. Knowing these facts and many more, you can better consider your options or give yourself a heads up to problems that could arise in a potential relationship.

You just ran into a woman at a coffee store who is thinking about starting the same type of business as you.  She gave you her business card. You are interested in starting a business with her but aren’t sure at how your personalities will mesh. Even though you hit it off at the cafe, does that mean you will be excellent partners?  In the interest of time, you want to get to know her quicker in your next icebreaker meetings so you look up her zodiac sign in the guide book. Thankfully, you found out her birth month by an elicitation technique of asking her what her favorite month is. She told you January, then you followed up by asking her if that was what month she was born. She willingly told you that it wasn’t. She was born in December. She just really likes New Years Day.

So, she is a Sagittarius. Upon reading the zodiac guide you find out her sign is very career-minded, goal driven, and great at understanding laws.  This will prove very helpful in researching laws that your business must abide by.  You saw this fiery passion inside her for a little bit during your initial meeting.  At your next business meeting with her, you ask her questions to find out information that will support this prediction about her personality.

If you have a significant other, spouse, or best friend, try this fun exercise.  Look up each other’s birthday signs in the guide, read each other’s sign descriptions and list which you think are true and aren’t true of the person.  Then, share your answers with each other to see what your friend thinks of you. Next, take note of what traits you all have in common.  As I’ve said, we are all unique individuals. Different people born in March will have different personalities that align with the descriptions in the guide. It is up to you to find out which ones are true and which ones aren’t. The guide is merely a tool for predicting a person’s personality. Once you get to know them you will find out their true tendencies.      

Tools -Apps, Informants

    There are a couple of great apps that help with developing different types of awareness. Consequently, there is an app on the iStore called Awareness that lets you listen to music in your headphones while also hearing the outside world.  There is another app called AWARENESS, developed by a New York psychologist, that helps you develop freedom and peace in your own shell.  I think self-reflection, if done regularly  can be very helpful in discovering changes in your lifestyle.

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