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Embrace your inner child for effective communication
It’s tough out there… Chances are you are overworked, you might be feeling a bit stressed out and effective communication has gone out the window. You have the burden of responsibility on your shoulders: bills to pay, a life and career to manage. So, just for a moment cast your mind back to those happy, carefree days of childhood. Summers were long, best friends were forever and the biggest challenge was where the next ice cream was coming from.
Can embracing your inner child really help you with effective communication?
In fact, on a professional level we should take these forgotten childhood behaviours much more seriously. Anthropologically we were never really designed to be the ‘adults’ we have become in modern society. The evolution and survival of our species has been mostly down to the more childlike traits of communication, social bonding, exploration, creativity, and improvisation. Watch any group of kids at play and you’ll see what we mean. A recent University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) study showed that at age 5 we engage in an average of 98 creative tasks a day, we laugh 113 times and ask 65 questions. By the time we reach age 44, we are already down to two creative tasks a day, 11 laughs and six questions. Interestingly at age 44 most of us are considered to be at the pinnacle of our professional careers and still have 20 years (at least) to retirement.
When it comes to workplace communication – something we all know is essential to business success – we can learn a thing or two from our inner child. We are born natural communicators and only over time do we unlearn this skill. The fear of exposure; concerns over failure and the formality of business culture all get in the way of this most natural thing in the world.
So, we encourage you to step out and embrace your inner child. In doing so your communication style will be far more authentic and genuine. As a result people will respond to you in surprisingly positive ways. Trust us, it will make a difference. Here are our top tips on using inner child thinking for a more assertive and effective communication style:
- 1. Be yourself
Oscar Wilde once said: ‘be yourself; everyone else is taken.’ This might sound obvious but unlike as children we put up barriers in the workplace to protect our personal feelings and to adopt a ‘professional’ façade. By opening yourself up you will find your effective communication becomes much more natural and engaging. Consider what’s important to you in terms of values. Think about times outside work when you enjoy the company of others. What is different about your style compared to during work hours?
- 2. Get in touch with your senses
Kids are acutely aware of their surroundings. They are also very in tune with each of their five senses. Think about how you engage with your senses at a day-to-day level. A huge component of effective communication is non-verbal so get physical (within reason!) with your fellow human. By allowing your senses to become heightened your empathy levels will be much stronger and this will be reciprocated.
- 3. Have a laugh and smile
It’s true we laughed and smiled more as children. Research shows that a positive outlook in adult life will not only improve your wellbeing but also your success rate. Positive people are liked and get hired. Consider your communication style. Is it warm and fuzzy or cold and prickly? What effective communication strategies could you adopt for the workplace to engage your colleagues with a warm and open demeanour?
- 4. Look them in the eye
The next time you talk to a child note the way they will hold your gaze. Almost every kid, even the shy ones, will rely on eye contact as a key non-verbal communication method. By using this very simple, very effective method you will get your audience onside and keep them connected to you and your message.
- 5. Give validation
We all need feedback. Children seek validation constantly. It is an essential part of our human social structure as we check and balance our behavioural norms and frameworks. An important aspect of effective communication in the workplace is this ability to give and receive positive feedback. Think about how you can provide clarity and empathy in your discussions with colleagues. What would you like to hear? Honesty is the best policy. Your inner child will guide you to this place. If you listen.
That’s the case for embracing some more childlike communication behaviours in the formal, grown up world of work. Try it for a day. You might like it. Those around you will for sure.