The principle of avoiding conflict and never opposing an aggressor’s strength head-on is the essence of aikido. We apply the same principle to problems that arise in life. The skilled aikidoist is as elusive as the truth of Zen; he makes himself into a koan—a puzzle which slips away the more one tries to solve it. He is like water in that he falls through the fingers of those who try to clutch him. Water does not hesitate before it yields, for the moment the fingers begin to close it moves away, not of its own strength, but by using the pressure applied to it. It is for this reason, perhaps, that one of the symbols for aikido is water. – Joe Hyams, Zen In The Martial Arts
Zen is synonymous meditation, which serves as the simplest form of explanation to a philosophy and way of life that many find too difficult to explain. It is described in many ways — a mindset, attitude, belief system, a sense of peace, mindfulness, and so much more. For many, the journey to understanding Zen takes years or a lifetime. Something that many of its followers embrace.
Many martial arts, especially ones popular in Japan like Aikido, Karate, Kendo (swordsmanship) and Kyūdō ( Japanese martial art of archery) have a deep connection with the teachings of Zen. There are stories of warriors during the ancient times like samurais gaining interest in Zen. The warriors who have studied and practiced were drawn to benefits like increase in mental focus among others.
While not directly taught or embraced by most martial arts nowadays, Zen continues to provide inspiration to many practitioners. Martial artists who study, follow and incorporate its teachings claim to have experienced the mental, emotional, and even physical benefits it provides. Zen may not be part of a black belt test, but those who practice it consider it as an integral part of their martial art journey.
If there’s one ultimate skill humans can do, it’s communicating.
Be it through reporting in class or speaking in public, communicating is done by honestly looking at people in the eye and conveying the message you want to impart. Sounds easy, right?
Well, let’s just say it’s not always the case – especially for those who are still looking to overcome their fear of speaking in public or those who are looking to improve their confidence when speaking in public.
That being said, I want to ask you a question.
What is essential to successful communication?
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you not just one – but two keys to effective communication.
This is probably the most important key to effective communication. You see, there’s a reason – let’s make it three reasons – why humans are given the ability to speak words. First is to tell stories, which should not just make your audiences listen intently, but also make your audiences relate profoundly. Next is to relate experiences, which should not just capture the attention of many, but also capture the hearts of many. Last is to capture hearts, which should not just inspire others to do better, but also inspire you to do better.
Another important key to effective communication, humans are wired to provide information. Whether the information came from the business and the technology sectors or from the local people standing up for a cause, it’s our responsibility to let our audiences know – no matter what happens, no matter who the informant is, no matter how the information is given, and no matter what the information is about. But most of all, it’s our responsibility to let our audiences know – how the information will affect lives and how the information will solve problems.
Do you know any other keys to effective communication? Share them with us below!
Communication is not a one way street. It is not just about you speaking or sending your message across. It also requires a lot of active listening. There is a huge difference between hearing words as opposed to processing and understanding the message. And you can only be better at the latter if you know how to listen well. Here are some ideas on how to hone your listening skills at any time.
Pay attention to your body language. Your body language may inadvertently send the wrong message. You have to align your words with your actions to convey a clear message. Pay attention to your non-verbal cues. The way you angle your body, your posture, and other habits you may have can either show interest or lack of it.
Be present. All sorts of internal and external distractions can steal your focus away if you allow it. To develop better communication skills, you have to practice giving your full attention to the person talking and what is being said.
Stay objective. You may or may not agree on the things you hear. Or some may feel unpleasant for whatever reason. Do not let how you feel cloud your judgment or affect your ability to hear out what is being said.
Do not interrupt. Interruptions can disrupt the speaker’s flow of ideas or thoughts. It may even come across as rudeness to some people. Improving communication skills entails waiting for the appropriate time to ask questions or make clarifications if needed.
Stay calm. Conflicts and disagreements usually involve heightened emotions. You have to keep calm and maintain clarity of mind if you aim to improve your listening skills. While it may be difficult at the onset, you can learn to listen objectively despite whatever negative emotions are brewing or swirling around you.
Use eye contact. Making eye contact with the person talking signifies interest. It also helps keep you focused on the topic at hand.
Remember the key points. Make a mental note of the key points that can help you understand the message or information being conveyed to you. Not only will this help you ask smart and relevant questions, but it also shows that you are paying attention to what the speaker is saying.
There is much to listening than many think. You cannot be a good communicator if you do not know how to actively listen. Thankfully, there are ways to improve your listening skills which can help you build and strengthen lasting relationships that allow you to enjoy happiness and success in life.
At some point, you may have to be on the receiving end of a phone interview. It may be for a job position in a company or a project proposal. Getting the job or the nod for a project hinges on how well you communicate with the interviewer. Here are some tips on how to make a good impression and send your message across effectively over the phone to a potential employer.
1. Double check the contact details you provide. Make sure that you provide the correct information (i.e. contact numbers) on your resume. The last thing you want is to miss out on an opportunity just because you failed to update your contact details.
2. Be on top of your game. Prepare in such a way nothing much will faze you once you get a call. Plan ahead on how you can maximize the interview time. Find a space that you can use to minimize noise and distractions so you can focus on whatever question or answer you are discussing with the person calling you.
3. Exude confidence, professionalism, and warmth. Speak with confidence and warmth while maintaining professionalism. Imagine that it is like talking to someone in front of you. Smile and let your engagement shine through your voice.
4. Actively listen and remember important points. Listen attentively and try to make mental notes of important information. And this is where finding the right space to receive important calls matters. You have to reduce or eliminate any possible distraction that could impair your ability to listen effectively.
5. Be on point. Practice answering questions as concisely and clearly as possible. Avoid long-winded answers when a few words would do. Focus on clarity as well as on how you can make interesting and straightforward answers.
6. Show engagement by asking the right questions. Ask questions to further show your interest. But avoid overdoing it. Do not ask unnecessary questions. You can follow-up on a particular topic by asking for clarifications, if needed.
7. Ask what is the next step, if applicable. Ask what the next step would be in the hiring process before the interviewer ends the call. This way you will have a fairly good idea of what to expect if you are considered or not for the job.
8. Thank the interviewer. Regardless of how the interview turned out, make sure to thank the interviewer before the call is ended. Or you can send a thank you note by email.