A lot has been written about effective communication: active listening, recognizing non verbal communication, asking questions, clarifying and summarizing your speaking points, providing feedback and developing trust and rapport. All of these tips make sense and are useful in any conversation. So with everything we’ve been taught to do or say, why is it that so many of us still feel we aren’t being heard? The real game changer, prior to all the techniques and strategies, is bringing ourselves fully to the conversation. The question then becomes: how do we do that?
Most of the time we just assume the person we’re talking to will hear what we’re saying, but how often does that really happen? It’s far more common to have a conversation with someone who’s simply waiting for us to finish so they can either give their opinion, defend their position, offer advice or refuse to be of any help whatsoever. And that’s not what we’re looking for.
Few people experience really being listened to. When the person we’re talking to is simply inhabiting their physical body we get a particular feeling about that. The most obvious indicator is that they’re not stopping what they’re doing to look you in the eye for more than a second because they’re distracted or checking their phone or multi-tasking. Beyond that, you sense the flatness; there’s no sense of connection and your words seem to bounce off a brick wall. Granted, not every conversation is one in which there’s deep connection and understanding. In a business context that’s often not possible and depending on the situation, maybe not even desirable. But what is possible is a simple acknowledgement of our shared humanness and an intention to have a positive exchange.
What if, in order to improve our experience – both for the listener and the speaker – we began by taking into account our state of mind? It’s certainly not the place most people start. It may seem overly simplistic to say that any conversation is significantly improved when we aren’t already preoccupied with a thousand different things, regardless of who’s doing the talking and who’s doing the listening. First you need to be aware when your mind is full of busy thoughts about problems you need to solve or people you need to deal with. That awareness by itself will break the spell of preoccupation and remind you to take a stop and really be with the person you’re talking to. It’s as easy as making sure your shoelaces are tied before you step out your door. Usually we get so caught up in the need to keep running that we don’t even think to look down until we trip up. But once we know the consequences of trying to run with untied shoelaces, we know to prepare in advance. It’s the same with having a conversation, only we look within ourselves rather than at something outside ourselves.
Our state of mind is colored by our mood and the feelings that go with it. We can improve our ability to relate to each other by factoring in the effect of our moods – both ours and the person we’re talking to. This is something that’s so fundamental we almost forget about it entirely. But, in fact, our low moods do affect our ability to communicate effectively. We forget that when we’re in a low mood, our ability to speak clearly or listen fully is minimized. When we’re feeling badly, it’s way too easy to fall into blame or resentment or defensiveness because we’re already feeling vulnerable, as if we somehow need to protect ourselves before anyone even has a chance to get the words out of their mouth.
If we give each other the breathing room to allow our moods to change, we have a far greater chance of engaging in conversation that may that may potentially contain an emotional charge. We start with noticing our own moods and how they make us feel, and then we begin to recognize how other people are also driven by their moods. This is a form of compassion that begins with you, a form of self care, if you will. And once you take care of yourself this way, you find you automatically extend the same kindness to others.
These dynamics – state of mind and mood – are equally true whether the conversation takes place in the office or the living room. For example, perhaps you run a business and have employees working for you, or you’re in a management position and want to be effective in engaging others in your vision. Understanding the nuances of the human condition is invaluable because it both increases your ability to convey what’s important to you and increases the engagement of those you work with.
As you increase your ability to recognize low moods and busy states of mind, you also become aware of the feelings connected to them. Self awareness is the gateway to so many improvements in our lives! We come to see not only what’s in our way but we gain access to our own resources we hadn’t noticed before. You come to see that low moods will pass and busy minds will settle without the need to manipulate them. They’re much like the clouds that cover over the sun; they dissipate on their own without our having to do anything to fix or improve them. Once we understand how transient moods and thoughts and feelings really are, we can either adjust our timing or make sure we create a safe and supportive context for dialogue.
Recognizing the role of our state of mind enables us to become fully present – and presence is transformative. It’s the real source of connection between us, and we all know when it’s there or it’s missing. When we can let go of rehearsing, anticipating or assuming anything about what might occur, we can set the stage for the most valuable and affirming possibilities to occur.
Nina Lockwood Certified Transformative Coach
Nina Lockwood is a transformative coach, speaker, facilitator and trainer with over 30 years of expertise in psychology and personal development and 20 years in the fields of health and wellness. Drawing from an interdisciplinary background, Nina works with individuals and organizations to achieve improved performance, problem solving, productivity and to minimize the effects of stress and pressure.
One of my favorite things to do is travel! I have gone to almost every state in the United States, and last year, I explored Thailand and Vietnam. I also love to go by motorcycle and check out our National Parks, as well as many other areas. We live in a beautiful country, and the thought of not getting to explore it would be a shame. I also think that planning a trip, and taking into consideration your health is critically important; especially if you are leaving the United States.
When you are excited to travel on a trip, it is easy to get caught up in the planning of where you are going, and how you are going to get there. Also; don’t forget that if you are not feeling well, it may be memorable, but it will not be enjoyable. It is essential to consider your health, and how you can boost your immune system before, and while traveling.
Also, it is essential to consider things like:
Sleep – If you typically get 6 hours of sleep, be sure to get those hours prior, and during your travel. If you usually get 8 hours, then be sure to get at least 8 hours. It is so tempting to stay up late because you do not want to miss anything. But you will pay for it if you end up getting run down and sick, and that is not enjoyable.
Health – I always bring a natural healthy medicine cabinet container in my carry on for remedies like; motion sickness, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, restless legs, and daily nutrition. Remember: take your daily vitamins; and if you take prescription medications, bring the amount you will need for the entire trip. Bring extra, in case of any delays, or you choose to delay your return trip.
Snacks – Super important if traveling by car; bring a little cooler bag with an ice pack, and; some peeled hard boiled eggs, almonds, and good quality protein bars. Never rely on food availability too much, such as; junk food, and things I wouldn’t even consider eating. Be sure to bring lots of clean water also. I bring a thermos with ice, and by the time it melts, I have gone through the water bottles I have brought. Try to use glass or stainless steel; it is healthier for you.
Brimmed Hat – Don’t forget to block those harmful rays by wearing a comfortable brimmed hat. Did you know that you can actually get sunburned on your head? Some people don’t like to wear them. I know I hate it, too; it always flattens my hair. If you are a fashionista, then get yourself a hat. You’ll block the sun,; and stay healthier; so go for it!
Sunglasses – There is nothing like being on a trip and losing your sunglasses. You will have to stop the fun to find a good pair of sunglasses; so why not just bring two. They don’t take up that much room. Comfy shoes – I prefer to travel in Oofos sandals easy off and on and supportive sandals. My feet are super comfortable in these especially if flying.
Ironing – Nowadays you don’t need to purchase clothes that require ironing so why pack something that will require ironing. You are on vacation! No work allowed!
Sunscreen – Look for a sunscreen that is paraben free, water resistant, oil-free, and one that smoothes easily into your skin and absorbs quickly, without leaving a sticky residue that does not irritate your skin.
Inset Repellant – There are a few choices out there that I would not recommend it isn’t healthy to put chemicals on your skin. My personal preference is an organic product that is safe and effective. Pack Ahead – I always begin packing two days before my travel because I remember things as the days go by and can add them while it is on my mind. Be sure to have a running list and check it off as you drop it in the suitcase, so you don’t have to go through to ensure it is packed. I always put in my carry on a travel toothbrush, my natural healthy medicine cabinet, deodorant, bathing suit, sundress, and pajamas. In case they have a delay getting my checked bag, I can still take advantage of the pool if there is one and sleep comfortably.
Disinfectant Wipes – I always bring a ziplock bag with disinfectant wipes to wipe down everything that people tend to touch when flying. The ones I use and recommend, kill odor-causing bacteria and 99.9% of Salmonella and E-coli.
Toilet Paper – In Thailand and Vietnam, the restrooms are a bit different so pack your own travel size tissues. In some locations, there is literally a hole that you squat over so think shoes and clothes that this would be easy to do in. So if you are traveling out of the United States, check what the facilities are like ahead of time. I am sure there are Facebook Groups that you can join and ask. I belong to one called Girls Love to Travel.
Motion Sickness – I get car sick, air sick, and ill on boats. I use peppermint ginger a half hour before my travel, and when flying, I also wear sea bands. Sea bands can be found in most drug stores; the key is the correct placement on your wrists, use two fingers together across your wrist and slide the sea band at the edge. I gave up years ago prematurely thinking they would not work for me, my friend encouraged me to try again, and they actually do work. If you find yourself without any of these remedies and are feeling sick on a plane, ask for half ginger ale and half seltzer that will help you in a pinch.
In February three years ago, we were traveling for a little over 3 months. The first stop was to New York City to go to a birthday dinner and then a Broadway Show and stay overnight before getting back on the road to head south. Here is what I did that made it very easy not to have to carry and unpack and repack a huge suitcase. I packed one bag for the first place we were stopping and put all my toiletries in one kit that could smoothly go from each bag. That bag was so much smaller and much easier to carry for a one night stay.
The second stop was North Carolina, where we had expected it to be a little warmer but not super warm. Upon putting the first suitcase in the car, I added my toiletries to the next bag that was packed with less dressy clothes and for slightly warmer weather.
The third stop was Florida, definitely much warmer and bathing suit weather so that bag had warmer weather clothes and I just added my toiletry kit.
The fourth stop was going to be a bit more of a challenge because we rented a motorcycle and headed down to the Florida Keys. I always have my travel size skin care and toiletries in a bag that is as small as I can make it, so that fit comfortably in the side compartment of the motorcycle. I just needed to fit enough clothes and shoes in the rest of the side bag. I brought lightweight clothing that I could easily wash out at night and hang to dry at the hotel. I always pack a super lightweight sundress that is super thin because I can fit that easily. My sneakers always go in the trunk bag, and my sandals fit nicely in the side bag.
The fifth stop would be back to our friends home, and I was able to do laundry.
The sixth stop was Houston, TX, to visit my father’s grave and spend some time with my cousin and attend the Houston Rodeo. You got it! Another bag in the back of my Honda CR-V.
The seventh stop was New Orleans, and no need for another bag as the Houston, TX bag was all refreshed and ready to go.
I think you get the picture having specific bags for each leg of your journey makes it so much simpler when in and out of hotels, relatives, and friends.
You can never be too prepared. After I return from any trip, I do a 7-Day Healthy Cleanse because the benefits are amazing. This helps me completely reset my system, reduce cravings, improves my sleep, and jump-starts my weight loss to get back on track in case I overindulged a little. I love the carefully selected combination of supplements in convenient daily packets with a step-by-step cleanse guide.
Enjoy your travels and remember your not promised tomorrow so DO IT TODAY!
Savvy Blog Contributor:
Deb Darby – It’s rare for anyone to get an hour to explore their wellness goals with a trained professional. As an Integrative Nutrition* Health Coach, Deb Darby creates a supportive environment that enables you to articulate and achieve your goals. Throughout her education, she has been exposed to the most cutting-edge dietary theories and studied highly effective coaching techniques to help you find the right lifestyle that works best for you.
Often people who have their own business get very concerned that they can’t take a vacation, or they will have to overwork either before/after their vacation like a crazy person. This does not have to be true.
It all comes down to planning. If you know that you are going to take two weeks of vacation each year then plan to make the difference up over the other 50 weeks, not the week before or the week after the vacation.
Make sure that you have tied up all your loose ends BEFORE going on vacation, so they don’t unravel WHILE you are vacation. You need time off.
Also, look at the possibility of having someone “cover” your clients if an emergency comes up while you are gone. Communication is key so, let your clients know that you are away and will not be available. Advise them of your departure and return dates so they know. It doesn’t hurt to send out an email to remind them. You may need to also set something up for new or potential clients, so they know you are unavailable. This can avoid you losing potential business or upsetting a client.
I am all about planning to make sure you can have fun!
On the personal side you also want to do several things like:
Having mail held at post office or someone picking it up
Notify your credit cards that you will be away (this can save big problems while you are gone)
Have someone keep an eye on your house
Remember you can go on vacation and have a great time with some good planning. Plan to have fun!
What are your tips for planning before leaving for vacation? Leave a comment below…
Colleen Parisi owner of A Walk in the Park with Colleen. Takes the stress out of planning a trip to Disney and put the fun in!!
Colleen’s belief is that everyone should have a great time at Disney! Growing up her family called her “Julie” (for those that don’t get it, it is a reference to a TV show called Love Boat and Julie was the cruise director). Colleen has always been a planner and now does it as a business and to help other businesses.
Opinions expressed by Savvy Women blog contributors are their own.
Summer has finally arrived and it is time for a vacation . We all work far too hard and relax very little vacations are important for our overall health however packing for our getaway can be stressful. The thought of packing gave me hives. Opening my suitcase raised my blood pressure and created high anxiety. I have learned many simple stress reducing tips and tricks in my career as a Personal Stylist & Professional Organizer that have lessened my anxiety. These tips and tricks are simple, quick, and have helped clients, reducing any “packing anxiety” so they could enjoy their time to recharge.
When packing for a trip my biggest tip is to always remember that is Less=More. We all pack a “just in case” outfit but, do we really need it? It is important to remember to pack clothing pieces from your wardrobe that are interchangeable. If you end up needing an “Emergency Look” you always pack can buy one on vacation. Interchangeable looks will allow you to pack less, lower your level of stress, & help you spend more time enjoying your vacation!Make time to get organized before you pack your suitcase leaving it till the last minute you will most likely feel very overwhelmed and stressed resulting in overpacking.
Before choosing what goes in your suitcase research your destination. Many of us Google our destinations weather forecast, I also suggest calling. Destinations can give you information about the toiletries , hair dryers, irons, etc., that they offer. Planning what types of excursions you will take narrows down the specific clothing pieces you will need cutting down on overpacking.
Armed with the information from researching your destination now open your closet! It is always great to remind yourself before choosing any clothes that Less=More.
Items to Pack for 5 days in Beach/Lake Vacation: 2-3 pairs short 1 pair of lightweight pants ( I prefer a white jeans) 1 bathing suit 1 bathing suit cover (can double as casual dress) 4 tops (mix & match styles) Pj’s Dressier dress (going out) 2-3 bra’s 4 pairs of undies 2 pairs shoes accessories 3 pairs socks (if needed )
These pieces of clothing should be cleaned, fit you comfortably and be in a “neutral” colors. Neutral colors allow you to interchange these pieces so you can create simple stylish looks and pack less. I suggest to clients to put on a “fashion show” to create their looks before packing. Think of this as a “fashion show” fun, exciting , and most importantly helps you double check whether you like your choices. The “fashion show” tip is very important for those of us who overpack.
One of the most frequent questions from clients is how many shoes and accessories to pack? My advice is to think simple or Less=More is always. Sneakers and walking shoes take up a lot of “real estate” in your suitcase so, wear them on your travel days. A pair of “beachy” type sandal I suggest flip flops and a dressier sandal that coordinates with the ”going out” dress is plenty of shoes.
My tip for accessories is leave your expensive/valuable pieces safe at home. I suggest following the same tip for accessories as you did for clothing simple and interchangeable: 2 pairs of earrings (choose your style) and wearing a simple necklace. Have some fun and shop for a unique souvenir type accessory while on vacation and if you are following the rule of Less=More packing you have some room in your suitcase for it!
All right, the time has come to pack take a breath you got this!
Wait did you forget your sunscreen, bug spray, or toiletries? You can purchase the small travel size soaps and “potions” at Target or most drug stores. Your skin will survive 5 days or so without the usual special night serum take a beak from it! Bringing your makeup is an individual choice my suggestion is to wear sunscreen but, not everyone feels comfortable that way.
Try to minimize : SPF 30 tinted moisturizer, lip gloss, & waterproof mascara give your face and yourself a vacation from what you wear daily. A vacation is a time to relax and enjoy your time reducing your usual skincare/makeup routine will give you more time to enjoy yourself. The Less=More rule also applies to your behavior on your trip. Less of your usual routine and More time to relax and recharge.
The biggest tip for the actual packing of clothing is to roll your clothes rather the folding. Rolling your clothes into the shape of what I call a cylinder will allow you to pack more and save space. I also suggest using your shoes to tuck items into them. Socks ,“Undies,” and flat irons work well for this it saves on space. Make sure to pack heavier pieces on the bottom (hair driers), and angling bulky pieces in the corners of your suitcase increases space. Making a list of your medication to keep on your person reminds you to pack these medications and double check the quantity you have. Vacations are not the time to need a medication refill or realize you left them on your bathroom counter at home!
Double check that you have packed chargers also you may need electronic converters if you are traveling to outside the U. S. By calling your destination packing your electronics can be easier. Always checking your cellphone plan to insure you have coverage and if there are extra costs for data usage.
Going on vacation to relax, recharge and visit new places is exciting the packing part not so much. Using the tips and tricks of my the Less=More Packing Model will reduce your stress, minimize overpacking, and make packing more enjoyable.The whole reason for packing is because you are getting ready for a vacation that will be invigorating , fun, and relaxing. So, take a breath and relax!
What are your favorite packing tips? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page with your tips.
Sarah J. Duffy is the Owner of Embrace Yourself. After being in the fashion & beauty industry for many years Sarah realized the most fulfilling part for her whether it be assisting a customer in creating an interview outfit, fitting a woman for the right size bra, or working as a professional Makeup artist was the moment the woman saw herself in the mirror ! The glow that would come to her face when she truly saw herself on the outside the way she felt on the inside! That is the only goal, when she meets with each & every client! Helping women learn to wear clothes that celebrate how amazing they truly are! Sarah believes in using fashion & style to create your own personal power! At Embrace Yourself it is not just about having a great wardrobe, or a “detoxed closet” it is about self-acceptance, self-awareness, & self-empowerment!
Opinions expressed by Savvy Women blog contributors are their own.