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Use It or Lose It: 10 Tools to Help You Communicate Effectively

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“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

-Nelson Mandela

We live in an age when information is available 24/7. Just install the right app and push the right button and you have anything and everything you want.

But do we?

We sign up for interesting and exciting courses online thinking when we have completed them, we will be able to bake a cake, take apart a car engine or know the best ways to travel. While all of this is wonderful and exciting, there is one step missing. Application.

Throughout this year, my blog posts have offered information, tools and strategies to meet the everyday challenges of life. But that information is just that – information – until it is used. Until we personally apply the information that can help us, it will simply remain good ideas.

Use it or lose it

Application isn’t easy. Making new habits isn’t easy. I know; I struggle too. It requires more than knowledge about what will and will not work, it requires a commitment and little steps forward.

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count.

It’s the life in your years.”

-Abraham Lincoln

What’s in your toolbox?

Use It or Lose It: 10 Tools to Help You Communicate Effectively | FocusWithMarlene.com

When I think of tools, I think of screwdrivers, drills, saws, nuts and bolts; things that can help me build, repair or fix a problem. Each has a specific purpose. In our life toolbox, we need tools to help us communicate effectively, navigate conflicts, be less reactive and more proactive, and apply problem solving skills.

Here are 10 tools I find useful to have in my toolbox:

1. Positive self-talk.

Our internal dialogue on 24/7. When we constantly tell ourselves that we are not capable and never will be, we will have difficulty making plans and following through.

Challenge repetitive negative self-talk every day. Make it a top priority. Replace with positive statements that affirm your abilities.

2. Proactive mindset and attitude.

There are situations that will demand a quick response. Having a proactive mindset and attitude in place will help us stop and evaluate and think before acting in most other situations.

3. An expanded frame of reference.

A telescopic lens focuses on only one detail while a wide-angle lens reveals an entire picture unfolding before us. When we remain stuck on only one aspect of a problem, we block anything that might be helpful.

Expanding our frame of reference is like putting a wide-angle lens on our camera – it allows us to look at extenuating circumstances, see another’s point of view, and find ways to work together.

4. Valued relationships.

Do the people you hang out with share similar objectives, beliefs and values?

Are you a good friend who is supportive and available when needed?

Do you take time to reach out to others in need and develop friendships based on sacrifice and a willingness to invest?

5. An authentic self.

Authenticity means we accept all sides of us; both the good and bad – the perfect and not so perfect.

Can I accept myself just as I am, with my shortcomings and limitations as well as my strengths?

When we are honest with ourselves and others, we become genuine and real, and work to improve.

6. A sense of gratitude.

Research shows that just the attempt of looking for things to be grateful for changes the brain in a positive way. It may be difficult at first if you have experienced many setbacks. But blessings are there, even in the worst of times.

Share that gratitude with others. Let others know you appreciate and are grateful for them too.

7. Emotional stability.

Take your emotional temperature. High sustained levels of fear, anxiety, worry, hate and resentment will have a serious impact on your health.

Emotions give us important information and are driven by our thoughts, beliefs and interpretations of life. Use that information wisely.

Hate destroys.

Fear can become a monster.

As we extend grace and empathy to others, we accept them as fellow travelers on the road of life. We can vigorously disagree with someone but respect them and their point of view.

8. Good communication skills.

Messages are more than just words spoken to one another. Within those messages are meanings difficult to put into words.

  • Ask for and give feedback for clarification.
  • Convey your objectives clearly when speaking.

Developing good communication skills is as important as learning effective problem-solving skills and begins with listening.

Use “I” statements and take responsibility for what you bring to any discussion and how you respond in kind.

9. Conflict negotiator.

We will be confronted with conflicts all the time. Some will be minor while others are complex and far reaching.

Our first response is usually to blame, attack and defend.

  • Ask yourself, what is the outcome I desire?
  • What is my part in the conflict and how can I resolve that?

Separate behaviors from the person. Develop a positive stance to work together.

10. Defined values.

As a Christian my core values come from God’s word and Jesus as my Lord and Savior. So much of the psychology and behavioral science that I have studied embody those same values. ]

Take some time to reflect on what you believe and why. Articulate those values clearly so they become a part of your everyday living.

Enormous stress is created when we act and live in opposition to our values. Explore and develop a relationship with God. I have received love, peace, strength and wisdom over the years from God through prayer and the reading of His word.

Let me know if these are helpful. Do you have others you would like to share? Send me an e-mail.

Marlene Anderson

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