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Why your heart is dark

“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out.” Jeremiah 17:9-10. What a deep and profound truth. This old bible verse deserves to be put into modern world context the ExperienceZone way. 

Life, love and light

Read this universal anaphora as follows: Life is granted to you. You’re born to spend some decades on this planet in your body. To reach what? The light. It stands for your aims in life, mission and ultimately fulfillment. Everlasting happiness or even enlightenment if you will and/or aspire. Being alive is a rather neutral state though. Moving from one state to another, i.e. numb existence to vibrant satisfaction requires energy. As you probably learned in school, it requires effort to transform a substance from one state of aggregation into another (e.g. heat changes H2O from ice to water to steam). Same applies to your states of mind. The form of energy required here is called… you guess it… love.

Love vs. knowledge

Love is the reason we’re born. Your father and mother expressed love in your physical production process. So, essentially love is our natural energetic state. It emerges from our gut as a raw emotion and communicates through our heart in form of various feelings. However, society, church, culture, media and school (or whoever else you want to blame) made us focus on thinking. Consequently, we mutate into heady people throughout life – especially in the “developed world”. This is dangerous, since thinking bears an illusionary certainty that we can explain the universe. In fact, we weren’t, aren’t and won’t ever be able to. The world around us is far too complex to grasp for the human brain, which is powerful yet limited in its capabilities.

The heart reaches further and deeper though (mind its electric field spans almost 5 meters). Its capacities are much larger and its intelligence goes far beyond the one of the brain. It’s fair to state “where the brain ends, the heart just gets started”. Hence I invite you to realign to your energetic roots as a human and claim your birthright of a primarily heart-driven being. Yet be aware that the journey to your heart bears risks. It’s a dark and sometimes dirty one. Introspection can be painful but is valuable and even necessary to come into terms with your past and thus yourself (since you’re a physical manifestation of your experiences). Also, if you decide love to be your driver rather than logos, you’ll step into uncharted territory. Love bears uncertainty but makes you tap deep into your earthly existence. Logos comes with the illusion of predictability plus only scratches the surface of inside experiences. I plea for love, but recommend you to get your heart in shape.

How to strengthen your heart

Your heart is your most important organ – physically, energetically and spiritually. Hence you want to treat it well. Here’s how:

  1. Embrace the concept of oscillation: Zigging and zagging. Our world moves in rhythms. Day and night. Warm and cold. Ebb and flow. We’re part of this earthly theater and thus tied to circadian cycles. Same applies to your heart. It requires regular challenges, such as endurance sports but likes to rest as well. So you want to find a sport, which makes fun and your heart to beat in a healthy range per minute but immediately afterwards dedicate some time to rest.
  2. Come into terms with yourself: Your body stores all experiences energetically. Everything, which happened in your life and you gave meaning to, is captured on a subtle level. Your heart continuously deals with these imprints. Especially whilst you’re sleeping. Dreaming is nothing else than your subconscious processing your past. Your heart plays a key role, as feelings cause the most prevalent and deepest memories. Therefore you want to engage in heart-intelligence exercises plus try supporting techniques, such as prayer, meditation, contemplation, visualization and affirmation to equip your heart for its night-shifts.
  3. Fall in love unconditionally: Love is the most powerful force in the universe. It shines through your heart as the most powerful tool. Love can make you fly high and fall deep. Both are equally important stages of the emotional roller-coaster ride. Consequently, you need to appreciate both without judging them. Many people want the highs without the lows. But you’ll never be able to appreciate the peaks if you haven’t been through the valleys before. Recognize and accept all feelings resulting from the uncontrollable adventure called love.

Outsides attract, insides connect

Why do people find each other? And why do they break up? Apparently there’re internal and external factors driving those decisions. Let’s dive into it the ExperienceZone way.

How we make choices

There’re subtle differences between buying a soft drink and falling in love. However, both are decisions – taken rationally or emotionally. Engaging in human relationships, no matter if it’s a friend or partner, is a highly complex process, which happens subconscious to a large extent. Therefore we want to wrap our minds around it to demystify its rationale and understand ourselves better.

Let me pose a truism here: The more complex a decision, the more likely we take it emotionally. This makes sense as our brain is only able to manage a limited amount of parameters. Of course, we can use frameworks to support decision processes logically. Yet rating potential lovers on a one-to-ten scale and making a choice based on who scored highest, bottom line doesn’t only sound utterly unromantic but also bears the illusion of behavioral predictions. In fact, we’re really bad in forecasting the future when it comes to romances. So let’s drop this thought and put our heart in the driver seat.

It seems like we need to trust our intuition and feelings here, which is totally reasonable given that love as an emotion is the strongest force in the universe and emerges from our gut. Up it moves into our heart and creates derived feelings, such as attraction, compassion and joy. Hence the cheesy advice to listen to our heart rings true.

Why outsides open doors

Vision is our dominant sense. Of course, there’s differences between us. Some are prone to listen, others like to touch, smell or taste things. Yet, most of us are primarily visual beings and our brain thinks in pictures. Memories are stored in mental images and visualization is a powerful tool, which often trumps affirmations (repeating positive beliefs). Observing animals when they’re pea-cocking to make up or fighting to show off proves evidence that dresses and alpha-behavior attracts females – if authentic and backed up properly.

In fact, the beauty and fashion industry play on these evolutionary facts and equip us with the latest make-up and hair trends as well as haute couture to impress our social network – in particular prospective partners. We all want to be acknowledged, recognized and appreciated as to who we are or at least what we represent to the outside world. Attractive appearance creates that first impression in split seconds. That’s the reason why you actually cannot overdress as it impacts not only your perceived status by others but also your self-confidence. “There’s no second chance for a first impression”. This especially applies to dates and includes your overall appearance – from facial expressions, body languages to clothes.

Beware that there’s other unconscious non-visual drivers of appeal, which includes the tone of your voice and your smell though. But let’s go down these rabbit holes in another blog post…

Why insides make you stay

Congrats: You met each other and informally agreed to dive into an adventure called love. This might last for some time – hopefully a lifetime. The quality and length of a relationship depend on many factors. Primary on internal ones. Outside attraction is the door opener. Commonalities and differences propel you into a virtual or vicious circle. The entire joint roller-coaster experience is a function of your similarities, willingness to compromise and emotional stability.

Similarities set the foundation. It determines whether you saw the seed of love on fertile or dead ground. Whereby you and your partner don’t need to be clones of each other, who don’t need to speak at all but communicate telepathically, have the same world views and values as well as engage in exactly the same hobbies. But: You need to have some things in common: Those, which are important to both of you. Healthy differences in fact can complement and thus enrich your lives.

This builds the bridge to the second ingredient: Willingness to compromise. Oh dear, one of my weak-spots in previous relationships. “I don’t like your personality, attitude or habits.” How superficial. Anyway, good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement. Now I know that willingness to compromise is key to a happy life in general and hope you do too.

Last but by no means least is emotional stability. You cannot love someone without fearing to lose her. Love and fear are two expressions on the same emotional scale and alternate depending on your mood and… …stability. Stability comes from knowing yourself and your  mission and aims in life. The more confident you’re, the calmer you behave when the stuff hits the fan. And it will in every relationship…

How to build fulfilling relationships

There’s no one-size-fits-all recipe for a love-pill, which leads to everlasting attraction, a continuous stream of romantic moments and progressive mutual growth. However, there’re some dos and don’ts:

  1. Find a good match: Our modern “developed” world creates the illusion of perfection. You’ve to look like a model, be successful like a superstar and live a happy life until everyone commits suicide upon your death since there’s no reason for them to live on without you. Drop the idea of perfection. Seek for a good match, not the perfect one. Someone who’s flawed but complements you. Otherwise you’ll die alone.
  2. Learn to compromise: This is a skill, not a talent. Latter are overrated anyway. Nurture beats nature always. Genes make up only a quarter of most attributes in life. No excuses. Discipline yourself rather than your partner. But: Define some must-haves. Find someone who embodies them. Then learn to deal with her imperfections exposing along the way.
  3. Learn and grow together: In a relationship, switch into a beginner mindset. Discover the individuality of your partner with curiosity and appreciate it for what is: A mirror to your self and chance to learn from each other. Instead of judging, you want to seek for growth opportunities. Everyone has something to teach you. Just open your eyes, ears and soul.

Become a better person!

Nowadays many aim high and are willing to go over dead bodies to achieve their goals. I was guilty as charged. One fact became clear to me very recently though: The road to heaven is called altruism, whilst egoism leads you south. Why’s that? Well, here’s another ExperienceZone shot of wisdom.

What makes our world turn?

Humans are social beings. You can neither be successful nor contented without others. Trust me. I learned it the hard way. In addition to supporting each other on the way to success, being in company seems to be closely related to our collective mission. Let’s take a step back: We all want to be happy. That requires control over inner processes. These comprise thoughts, emotions and feelings. Thoughts are controllable to a certain extent by engaging in exercises, such as meditation. More powerful emotions and therewith resulting feelings are almost impossible to steer. They’re closely related to relationships we’ve with other people. If we feel physically or emotionally attracted to others, love emerges and subordinate positive feelings. If others scare us, fear creeps up and negative feelings. Bottom line: Love and fear are emotions others cause in us.

What do you need to do?

We all want to be love and be loved. This requires you to focus on two activity areas:

  1. Learn to love yourself. Folks only trust and love you as much as you trust and love your self. Essentially, others see you exactly as you see yourself – at least on a subconscious level. Your self-image represents the sum of your experiences until this moment. Latter are actually subjective perceptions filtered by your beliefs and tend to reproduce themselves. We strive for consistency. If you and your social network – especially your parents during childhood (mind other people) – tell you that you suck in math, you’ll most likely never become reasonably good in it (and maybe in no other natural science). If you learn to break this belief system though, sky is the limit if at all (mind Elon Musk). The first step is to know who you were, are and want to be. Run a personality analysis, check your attitudes and define your mission. Most importantly: Embrace the concept of self-determination.
  2. Care about other people. Today, someone who means a lot to me complained about not listening carefully. In fact, listening is a key skill in human interactions. We invented language to express our feelings, build up rapport and strengthen relationships. Give before you take. Listen before you talk. In conversations with others, I used to let my mind drift, since it was so busy with other unimportant stuff (mind the sand in the famous vase). Also, I would talk a lot instead of asking questions and really listening (rather than thinking about my response). This behavior is a recipe for social isolation. What do I need to change? Spend time with people – best case face-to-face quality time. Be sincerely interested in them. Reduce my air-time and let them share their views. Respect their opinions and focus on their strengths instead of calling out their weaknesses. Besides, if you talk, you only repeat what you already know. If you listen though, you can actually learn something. I’m on my way to become a better person. Are you?

Why do opposites attract?

We all know this phrase. We found it to be true in various situations. Seems like this truism serves us as a proxy for many phenomenons. I recently discovered that it particulary applies between partners. Hence, let’s uncover it the ExperienceZone way.

Everything in the universe is based on polarities

Day and night. Light and shadow. Heat and cold. All apperances are just expressions on different scales. Circadian rythms, brightness and temperature. One extreme cannot exist without the other. In fact, they seem to dance with another. Even more: One needs the other. Mind magnetismus. Likes reject and opposites attract.

Human relationships are energetic

Similar to magnetism, relationships are based on an exchange of energy as well. Latter is just on a another level, yet follows the same principle. Pushing and pulling forces. We call them male and female energy. Male energy is expressive, analytical and sequentially goal-oriented. Female energy is receptive, emotional and concurrently fulfillment-seeking.

Neutrality makes relationships fail

If one partner has an surplus in male energy and the other one a excess in female energy, their forces create tension. Tension leads to attraction between two human beings – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Everyone embodies both forms of energy. Traditionally, men are heavy in male energy and women have more female energy. However, in the late sixties, men cultivated their female energy and wore colorful clothes and long hair. In the course of emancipation, women increasingly focused on their career. This lead to an equalization of energies within individuals and therewith in relationships. The results are a lack of tension and thus attractiveness between partners. Divorces, single towns and low birth rates in the developed counties.

What can you do?

We all want to be appreciated. Actually being loved. Genetically, there’re two different keys to the kingdom depending on your gender.

If you’re a man, you usually want to cultivate your male energy. Why the heck are you on this planet? Define your mission. Then derive aims in life for each area. Afterwards pursue them as the top priority. If you’re or go into a relationship, you need to love your partner with all you got. Express your male energy physically instead of trying to understand her analytically. Yet always show integrity to your goals and your unbreakable will to be free. This is the strongest attractor for your wife.

In case you’re a woman, you are invited to cultivate your female energy. Live and breathe love. Be there for your partner. Also, follow your dreams yet accept your receptive side. Test his integrity continuously as a vibrant relationship fills your heart. Show your emotions and allow your man to let his feelings out. This behavior draws him to you.

Polar energies are gender independent. Even same-sex relationships require one to be active analytical and the other one to be passive emotional. Don’t force yourself into an energetic pattern you’re not feeling comfortable with. Rather accept that you might have found a wrong match, but realize that polarities always offer challenges and thus opportunities for growth for both sides. On a sidenote: We’re covering the necessary foundational energetic differences here. Of course, you need to have similarities with your partner to sustain a long term relationship.

How does dancing relate to your parents?

Consider life being a ginormous play. Basically, you’re an actor. The world is your stage. As your understanding of life deepens, you start to hear subtle tones. After a while, you recognize patterns and thus melodies. The theater turns into a musical. You transform into a dancer.

Relationships are dances.

You practice them frequently – in most cases subconsciously. What does this mean? Well, it translates into the role you’re playing and the image you’ve about yourself and others. Vice versa, others too have an image of you and themselves. Surprisingly or not, the images don’t differ a lot. The outside perspective is actually a function of your self-image. The way you see yourself impact the way others see you. If you think you’re insignificant, others will treat you that way because your lack of confidence shines through. If you think you’re as important as anyone else, others will treat you equally.

What’s more? Similar to images, human relationships are based on the concept of consistency as well. This means that interactions between two people are dependent on the perceptions the actors have about themselves and the other party. This perception gets usually confirmed and thus reinforced over time. I used to have the nice-guy-stamp on my forehead in my family. So whenever I went to gatherings, such as birthdays, others expected me to be “nice”. In order to meet their expectations, I would avoid conflicts and told people what they wanted to hear.

How do you break the beat?

You learn and grow as life progresses. This is the reason why we founded ExperienceZone as a platform for controlled personal transformations. Anyway, deadlocked dances can prevent growth and need to be changed. This is how you do it:

  1. Make up your mind. What’s your role within your family? Are you the nice guy, black sheep or clown? Identity internal and external biases. This starts with introspection via a personality analysis and ends with a family constellation and evaluation of roles and relationships within. Once you know which roles you’re playing, you gain clarity about the related dances.
  2. Have meta-conversations. The longer you engage in a habit, the harder it is to change it. Same applies to dances. Awareness is the first step. However, you’re smoking crack if you think you can change those instantly. Reason being, there’s a partner on the other side, who’s used to that dance and would like to continue it for the sake of consistency. Since it’s impossible to change others, you want to talk with her about how you perceived your relationship, why it is dysfunctional and how you plan to transform it to get buy-in.
  3. Make decisions. If the other person isn’t willing or capable of changing your dance, “changing” falls off the serenity prayer option list. Hence, “loving” or “leaving it” is left. I don’t recommend former, since although re-framing might increase your well-being, you’re still stuck. Consequently, the only meaningful option left is “leaving it”. Tell the other person that you need at least a break for the sake of your self-development. It might sound hard yet will give the other one space and time to reflect upon her behavior.

Did you know that a child can cost as much as an apartment?

Well, I’ve definitely cost as much as a small house. Of course, the decision to get children is dependent on many factors (assuming you can actually plan for it). So, let’s dive into it the ExperienceZone way.

Why having children?

First things first: I don’t have children yet. However, I do understand why many declare them as their mission (although I believe that everyone is on planet earth for an individual reason, which is different from the cheer act and result of reproduction). Since our planet is overpopulated, you don’t need to worry about humankind disappearing just because you decide against children.

Yet if you do so, you want to check yourself in three areas:

First, your personal situation. Are you through your rite of passage? Do you feel like you’re grown up. Admittedly, I’ll always have a child in me, which drives me towards doing new things in a bold way, looking at them with fresh eyes and thus enjoying moments deliberately. Yet, I want you to having made certain experiences (such as partners, journeys or hobbies), which make you comfortable with caring for another human being for the next 15 to 20 years. Reason being, some your parents complain about that they haven’t “lived their life” and are now trapped into their parental responsibilities, which doesn’t allow them to make up the things they “missed”.

Second, the relationship with your partner. Do you’ve a stable relationship? Do you love your partner to the same extend that your partner loves you? Do you have more often sex than you fight each other? You might laugh, yet if case the result of latter formula is positive (i.e. more often sex than fights), it’s usually a good predictive indicator for a healthy relationship. Also, you want to reflect upon the social or constitution type combination of you and your partner.

Last but not least, your financial situation does play a role. Do you’ve savings or debt? Do you’ve property (e.g. real estate)? Do you and/or your partner have a “solid” job (the air quotes are due to the fact that there’s no job security anymore, yet you can create skill-sets which are build to last or meet the needs of a large target group)?

Think before you act

This might be challenging when it comes to rather emotional acts, such as sex and thus the production of offspring. Yet, assuming you’re an adult human being and contraceptives are available, I highly recommend you to think twice:

  1. Check your personal situation. Well, there’s never a perfect moment to get children (since there’s never a perfect moment for anything, you better drop the concept of perfection). You might always think that you miss something. However, please bear in mind that children will boost your self-development. Plus spending time with them can be really rewarding. Again, I’m not a father yet but am a good observer plus claim to have decent sense of empathy.
  2. X-ray your relationship. Talk with you partner about your wish to get children. Is she thinking along the same lines? Does she feel “ready” for it as well? Only if both of you guys confirm a level of certainty towards having children, you should jump into action. This way you ensure than no one regrets anything and might not be fully supportive when it comes to living up to the parental duties.
  3. Run a financial analysis. In first place, your professional situation is key to the monetary considerations. Why’s that? If you’re on a good career track (which basically requires you building it up on your individual passions and ultimately strengths), money comes naturally. It’s just a function of others appreciating the value you deliver to them by leaning in with your unique skill-set.

How large is your social network?

It’s more about “who” you know than “what” you know. Especially, in the corporate world (some even argue it’s most important who knows you). Since we’re designed to only become truly happy in company, your social network is paramount – in working and private life. Hence, let’s dive into this the ExperienceZone way.

Tell me who you’re with and I tell you who you’re

Imagine us sitting around a fire and singing songs. Sounds romantic? Well, human beings have engaged in social events from begin of humanity. We’re social beings. Period. If you don’t believe me, go into a zoo and watch our closest relatives. Chimps are interacting with each other the whole day. Those who get isolated from a group become mentally and physically sick. Our brain produces endorphin once we’re getting down with others.

Not only in primal surroundings but also in business context, collaboration is the be all and end all. The higher the climb corporate ladders, your professional network becomes more important. As you emerge from an individual contributor to a leader, expertise is assumed to be a given, yet collaboration (or as you haters might put it “politics”) moves into the center of your daily work.

Bottom line, social interactions are paramount to your life. The people you engage with have an significant impact on your life and vice versa. That’s the reason why emotional intelligence is such a hot topic nowadays.

How do you optimize your social network?

Last night I was a first-timer at the Octoberfest in Munich. Met great people. Will stay in touch with some and not with others. How do I make these decisions? Here’re my recommendations:

  1. Check who you engage with. Sit down at a quiet place and write down who you know. I don’t mean your 1,000+ Facebook “friends” but the people you regularly (let’s say at least every quarter interact with). Bear in mind that this goes beyond Family & Friends and thus includes working colleagues and other acquaintances.
  2. Become selective. In case your list is longer than 50 folks, you want to separate the wheat from the shaft. Why? Your social network is about quality not quantity. Focus on win-win relationships (sorry for the consultant speak). How? As you go down the list, cross out those people, which neither support your mission and aims in life nor you can help them to accomplish theirs.
  3. Surround yourself with like minded people. As soon as you landed on a narrow and deep (rather than broad and shallow) network, reach out to those 20-30 folks left. Contemplate about what everyone wants to achieve in life and how you can help her. Since one of life’s golden rule is to give before you take, you want to check on how every one can help you to execute your plans thereafter. Finally switch into action gear and schedule touch points with those people (best case face-to-face interactions). Sounds over-systemic but works like a charm. Have fun!

Do digital friendships soon replace real life ones?

Remember the first personal computers and consoles creeping into our living rooms in the 80s? People used to play video games alone and latter with some friends. I still remember the Street Fighter, Mario Kart and Secret of Mana sessions on the good old Super Nintendo  Nowadays, digital interactions are an integral part of our lives. Yet which value do they add and which risks are associated with them? Let’s look at this phenomenon in an ExperienceZone manner.

Opportunities of digital networks

Quo vadis digitalization? If you’re born before Y2K, you might be equally stunned about the speed digital infused our lives. Today, we´re using online communities to connect, communicate (duh, guess why the words are similar), and interact. Mind LinkedIn’s success story. Also, we’re spending a large amount of time on these platforms. I read that every human being is in average 20 times and in total 20 minutes on Facebook. Recently more than 1 billion people have been on Facebook at the same time. The servers must have been running hot! Great traction stats for Mark Zuckerberg and his gang. By the way: ExperienceZone is an online network too. We’re not striving for the same results though. More below.

So, let’s summarize the advantages of digital platforms:

  1. Information at your fingertips: Online networks give me a lot of information just in time. Facebook tells me that Bob has his birthday tomorrow. Thanks to modern technology, I can draft a personal note beforehand and schedule it to be send out tomorrow. Also, I might be able to copy the event to my calendar and be reminded next year in advance that I can even buy him a present. This feature doesn’t exist yet? Mark, that’s today’s gift for you. My pleasure. Also, I know where Tina is and what she has for lunch (although I might not be sincerely interested).
  2. Efficiency of interaction: If I don’t know or like Bob that much or if I just don’t have time (which is of course never an excuse), I can write “Happy B-Day” on his wall. If some of my other “friends” have birthday on that same day, I can even copy the note and post it on their walls too. That’s the gold standard of time-efficiency. Now, if Bob is impressed by my note (against all odds), he might invite me to his birthday dinner with his spouse Tina. Since I’m living really far away from these guys, I’ll dial in via Skype to the menage a troi and have my own dinner at home during the video conference. Ok, I might exaggerate here, yet these scenario might not be too far off.
  3. Non-binding nature: Yeah, I got 700+ Facebook friends. Quite frankly: I wouldn’t consider most of them as real friends (sorry guys). Most of them I met at places I traveled and we stay in touch since then. Others just added me to their buddy list without ever meeting me. It surely was my handsome profile picture… Joke aside: I accepted requests from strangers just because I was too lazy to ask where we know each other from or feared that I’ve forgotten that we actually met each other yet I just don’t know where and when anymore. Bottom line, it doesn’t hurt to have more or less friends in online networks, since these relationships as well as most content you’re posting is of non-binding nature.

Don’t believe the hype!

But where there’s light, there’s shadow. Online networking can make you addicted without adding any value. Like a rocket-chair it keeps you busy but leads to nowhere. Worst case, you spend too much time in the digital world and get socially isolated in the real one. Hence, here’re my recommendations to manage digital networks effectively:

  1. Which digital networks add value? Think twice about which digital networks you want to be part of. Do you really need a Twitter, Facebook, G+, Pinterest, Instagram etc. account? Think about which ones are aligned to your mission and aims in life? Where are your friends? Which networks represent communities you want to contribute to?
  2. Which people do you want to engage with? Also, think about with whom you want to engage with. Learn from my experiences: Don’t accept all friend requests (of course a picture of a beautiful girl might flatter you and make you press the “accept” button, yet this might be a fake profile). Strive to have a narrow and deep rather than a broad and shallow social network. At ExperienceZone we considered to limit the amount of travel mates (or friends in Facebook lingo) to 30, as we believe that this is the maximum amount of true friends you can have. We might pick this one up again. Also, we strive to have a rather small yet active community of people who really want to make a difference.
  3. How much time you want to spend in the digital world? Writing each other is the most efficient yet ineffective form of communication, whilst face-to-face is the most effective whilst admittedly most inefficient type. But communication is all about effectiveness. Don’t sacrifice it on the altar of efficiency. Set a daily time limit for digital interactions. At ExperienceZone (formerly known as GodBoy), we started with a 30 minutes time limitation for users. Why? We wanted them to spend their time in the real world rather than in the digital life.

Why communication is the glue of relationships

Human relationships are build on trust. Trust comes from frequent communication. Also, openness and honesty creates intimacy. Before engaging in more “duh, tell me something I don’t know” buzzword bingo, let’s dig into the roots of these truisms. Why is communication paramount to human relationships? I’ll explain it the ExperienceZone way.

Humans are gregarious and thus social beings

We’re designed to live in groups. In fact, our survival depended on the goodwill of others already in the stone age. Men went out to hunt together. They needed to rely on their fellows to make a kill instead of being becoming a prey. Tough times… Women gathered fruit and passed on knowledge from one generation to the other about which fruit & vegetables are eatable and therewith feed the family and which ones poison the hungry family members.

Since then the risks lurking on our life paths have certainly decreased, yet we still need other people to become successful – in private and professional life. Evidence can be found in the animal kingdom. Just go into a zoo and study our closest relatives. Apes interact which each other the whole day! Those being isolated from the group begin to suffer mentally, emotionally and physically (in this sequence).

Communication is the bridge between us

Similar to other higher developed species, humans developed body language and over time verbal communication. Meantime, we’ve invented hundreds of languages with thousands of words. The most sophisticated communication techniques ever created on this planet (probably in the entire universe). We even call one who speaks more than two languages a genius. Certainly not me, as my German and English are rather average… Anyway, the more complex our languages became, the better we were able to express our feelings, air our ideas or get our points across. Communication is therewith a tool to tell the other person about ourselves. Since this usually happens between two people or more (unless you’re talking to yourself, which too can be functional in certain situations), it’s at least a two way street: We listen to what Bob experienced on the weekend. We learn about him and his family spending time together. We can ask him to tell us more or catch the ball and elaborate on our leisure time activities. This way, we exchange personal information and build trust eventually. The more we talk to each other, the more information gets shared. The more gets shared, the better we get to know the other person and the more effectively we’re able to build rapport or enrich ideas.

The key ingredients of effective communication

Yeah, there’re countless books about communication. So I won’t drain you with the things you take for granted (yet might not apply in daily life). My intention is to make you reflect how you communicate at the moment and how you want to engage with others to become successful. Success in terms of communication is to get what you want. Verbal interaction always has the objective to be understood. In most cases it is about selling yourself and your ideas. How do you do this best?

  1. Know your style. This requires you to run a personality analysis. Now you might experience a deja-vu: “Hey, this guy almost always comes up with this first point!” Busted. Guilty as charged. Nonetheless is self-reflection an highly effective approach. Reason being, you need to know your natural communication tendencies before you can change them. The die-hard-continuum of all personal transformations is a) gain clarity about the current state (that usually starts with you as a person), b) define the target state and c) determine measures to get from where you are to where you want to be. Makes sense?
  2. Seek to understand. Listen before you speak. Why’s that important? The more information you get about the other person and her ideas, the more raw material for your response or decision, you’re able to gather. By the way: Just keeping your mouth shut is not listening (most people just use this break to already think about what they want to reply rather than really listen). Latter requires you to understand what the communication partner actually means. Meaning can differ from the words being said. So you need to be able to read between the verbal lines. The tonality, facial expressions and body language give you valuable clues about what moves the other person.
  3. Seek to be understood. Communication is about the listener. Don’t dump your ideas as fast as possible into someone else head. Instead, plant them with care. I recently talked pretty fast and in complex lingo about nutritional science.  What I received is raising eyebrows, which told me that my counterpart barely understood anything I wanted to get across. So, speak slowly and use terms which resonate with the other person. If you’re in doubt about the social style of the listener, I recommend simple words wrapped into short sentences. Enough said, em written, go out and practice to become a better communicator!

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