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5 Ways to Ask Better Questions

thinkingPhoto courtesy of Jacob Botter

As I’ve become more in tune with my everyday experiences, I’ve starting noticing that a big indicator of success is how good someone is at the fine art of conversation.

That’s right – discussion, chit chat, a good old repartee: newsflash – if you can’t hold a solid, two-sided convo, your potential for success may be limited. How far you’ll make it on your quest for happiness, money, wisdom – whatever it is that you’re looking for – can be determined by how well you hold up your end of a discussion.

Regardless of the setting, be it professional, personal, or on a tier somewhere in between, so many of us ask simply awful questions. The average adult tends to go on and on in extended soliloquys without even noticing that their intended audience isn’t even listening.

Silence makes some people quite uncomfortable, as does looking ignorant or uninformed; therefore, they cover up their lack of knowledge and fear of quietude with a long line of monologues. Afraid to be direct, many people today just aren’t willing to ask the tough questions – instead they ask boring, yes or no questions just to fill the silence.

Rather than trying to fill a quiet room with sound, view every potential conversation with someone as a potential to grow and learn. Likewise, asking yourself the right questions can inspire you to take action rather than lead you toward apathy and stagnation.

Most people spend a lot of time thinking about how to answer things in the smartest, most favorable ways. As it turns out, asking good questions is much more impressive than giving the “right” answers.

  1. Ask open-ended questions. The best questions are formulated creatively. Avoid long-winded questions that leave your conversation partner confused, though. Be concise, creative and clear about what you’d like to know.
  2. Refrain from filling in the blanks. Sometimes, what starts out as a question ends up offering your respondent multiple choices, which can skew his or her answers. End your questions at the question mark, even if you’re not immediately presented with an answer. A little bit of silence is normal, and ok.
  3. Have the courage to ask tough questions. As a general rule, people love it when you ask them questions! It shows them that you are interested in what they have to say, especially if your questions are well-thought-out and graze more than just the surface. If it makes you feel more comfortable, add a disclaimer, such as, “Let me know if this is too personal, but…” Most people will respect your tenacity and appreciate your confidence, making them more likely to confide in you.
  4. Pay attention to the answers. Although asking the right questions is of great importance, remember to stay focused on the answers rather than dwelling on what to ask next. An authentic give and take is what a good conversation is all about.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask a follow-up question. If you asked a difficult question and got a non-answer, don’t be afraid to stop them before they’ve gone off in a completely different direction. Gently interrupt and re-word your question, and be sure to apologize for being unclear.

Another good thing to remember is this: if you truly don’t understand something, avoid the temptation to nod along as if everything is perfectly clear to you. Ask as many follow-up questions as you need until the answer starts making sense.

“Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” – Anthony Robbins

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14 Reasons to Open Your Mind

Photo courtesy of Hobvias Sudoneighm

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” -  Oscar Wilde
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

It’s true that most of us have been raised with a certain set of morals and beliefs about life that can sometimes make it difficult to entertain or accept ideas that differ from ours. Much of our childhoods were spent surrounded by people with very similar belief systems and ways of living.

Even as adults, we tend to surround ourselves with like-minded individuals because it’s much easier to enjoy life without daily conflict.

It’s okay to have your own opinions regarding important life issues. I definitely have some strong opinions concerning matters close to my heart. However, if you asked the people who’ve known me longest, you’d find that my attitude has shifted away from the need for absolute truths.  At some point I realized that I can live a much richer and fuller life by being open-minded.

How far open should your mind be?

Personal choice will dictate how receptive to new ideas and differing opinions you are able and willing to be.  Your innate personality and the open-mindedness of your closest family members will play a part as well. Even if you have to go it alone, opening your mind’s door and allowing yourself to be receptive to new information and ideas can be quite rewarding and beneficial.

Approaching life with an open mind can lead to positive things like:

  1. Increased knowledge and understanding of concepts that had previously eluded you due to your lack of exposure or willingness to except new ideas.
  2. New friendships – If you were raised to eliminate entire groups of people from your friendship pool because of their differences, imagine the potential relationships you are missing out on!
  3. Pleasurable experiences you might have otherwise missed, including personal experiences and professional opportunities alike.
  4. Creating the life you’ve always wanted by taking a different path - Remember - there is always more than one way to get where you are going.
  5. Personal growth -  Letting go of some previous beliefs or letting in new information may lead you to make some changes that you never even realized you needed.
  6. More interesting conversations -  Earn a reputation for your open mind and more people will get a lot more pleasure out of holding conversations with you.
  7. Empathy -  It’s hard to have empathy for people when your mind is closed off to them.
  8. Better relationships - Open-minded people are not easily angered by opposing views, and this leads to healthier interactions.
  9. A more secure sense of self -  Are your viewpoints really your own or are they ideas that have been passed down to you from your parents and grandparents? Taking a step back to analyze your beliefs before calling them your own will give you more confidence in your own points of view.
  10. Being less judgmental -  Someone who is open-minded would never make a judgment before hearing both sides of an argument.
  11. Improved listening skills – Taking in all information before formulating an opinion means you’ll be engaging your analytical thinking skills on a more regular basis.
  12. Getting more enjoyment out of wherever life brings - Life has so many wonderful opportunities; those who can let go a little bit and see where life takes them will end up happier and more fulfilled.
  13. Lower stress levels -  It’s significantly less stressful to be open-minded and relaxed about opposing views  than it is to be closed-minded and argumentative.
  14. Physical health improvements – By not allowing a difference of opinion to provoke you, things like your blood pressure, heart rate, and blood oxygen will stay within desirable ranges.

Having your own beliefs and opinions is an important indicator of who you are as a person, but so is how amenable you are to new ideas when they’re presented to you. The best way to formulate a set of beliefs that you can call your own is to be willing to listen and think analytically about all the facts that come your way. Also, staying receptive even after you’ve formulated your opinions shows respect to others who have contradicting viewpoints.

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How to Find Success with Love and Money

Photo courtesy of Mark and Cece

Taking control of your own happiness is an important theme for us here at TinyShift. Our entire staff lives and breathes our mantra: making small changes that have big consequences. We’ve all seen our lives improve exponentially since we started taking control of our own lives. Part of what fulfills us on our journey is sharing our success so that you can also move toward living the life you really want.

We make it our practice to regularly learn about a variety of elements like books, apps, disciplines, practices (such as mindfulness, meditation, and cognitive therapy), courses, and the latest research that may help our readers find success. Recently, we were lucky enough to meet Cece Suwal and Mark Brener, who are Co-founders of The One World Initiative blog and co-authors of the national bestseller A Guide to Your Supreme Power. Let me tell you – this is one amazing twosome. They’ve been featured on ABC and in The New York Times, The New York Observer, Fortune/CNN Money Magazine, The Guardian UK, Shanghai Daily, and other news outlets around the world.

While talking with Mark and Cece recently, we learned that they are currently offering a 3-Part Mini-Course absolutely FREE. This course consists of: an audio series wherein multi-millionaires reveal their secrets, an e-book that addresses the root causes of anxiety and how to overcome it, and an e-book designed to help you enjoy happy and satisfying relationships and sex lives.

Here’s exactly what you’ll receive:

  • Multi-Millionaire Interview Series: Self-Made Millionaires Reveal Their Real Secret Tools for Success-a new, 3-part audio interview series and cheat-sheet-style e-book that will help you learn about the real ways to succeed financially, as shared by 3 highly successful multi-millionaires that Cece and Mark interviewed. (value: $100)
  • What Stress, Worry, and Anxiety Really Mean and How to Replace Them With Delight! – a 28 page e-book that explains the causes of anxiety and how to be free from it once and for all. (value: $30)
  • Relationship Advice That Really Works: How to Have Meaningful, Loving, and Sexually Satisfying Relationships – a 19 page e-book that reveals timeless wisdoms about love, why we need it and how to have awesome sex lives. (value: $14.99)

PLUS two bonus gifts!

  • How To Influence People For Maximum Results (value: $30)
  • Why Passion Comes Before Success AND What To Do If You Can’t Find YOUR Passion (priceless)

Again, we think this mini-course will help you as you take control of your life, and we think it’s great timing that we met Cece and Mark just as the new year is about to start.  We know you, our readers, are ready to make changes in your lives for the better, and this is a great tool to use on your journey. And it’s totally free!

To sign up for the mini-course, simply click here. You will be re-directed to their site. Please let us know your thoughts after you’ve had time to review everything!

 

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Generation Z: What the Me! Me! Generation Means for You

Photo courtesy of Allen Skyy

Anyone who was born after the late 1990s grew up in the digital era and never knew life before the World Wide Web. Known as ‘Generation Z’, today’s young people started Googling and Skype-ing right around the same time they started peeing in the potty.

Texting, Face-timing, downloading apps – these are all second nature to Generation Z, and they all have a multitude of webpages dedicated to their own self-promotion (think Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, WordPress and LinkedIn.)

Another thing specific to Generation Z is their intense fascination with memes – funny pictures, sayings, and YouTube videos that they share with their friends via email, Facebook or Twitter. Ask any of them what ‘meme’ really means, and you’ll probably be met with a blank stare, but only for as long as it takes them to Google it.

If they did Google it, they’d discover that the word ‘meme’ came from the Greek word ‘mimeme’, and it was determined by biologist Richard Dawkins that a meme is any cultural entity imitated by humans, like nursery rhymes, prejudice, and phrases, like “Where’s the beef?” Dawkins coined the term ‘meme’ in his book, The Selfish Gene, but it has gone mostly unused for 30 until now, when, coincidentally what has been dubbed America’s most self-absorbed generation ever, brought it back to life.

Their self-absorbed reputation stems from the fact that these digital natives spend a lot of time alone, ensconced in their digital lives instead of spending time with other people. Although they may have a lot of friends, they communicate with them largely through virtual interactions like texting, Skype-ing, and Facebooking.

Dealing with their “Me! Me!” attitudes and their tech-focused communication skills can take some getting used to. I have two children who are members of Generation Z, and I always try to balance their technology-rich lives with old-fashioned activities like scavenger hunts, card games, and face-to-face talking. If you’re also a parent of a Gen Z-er, it’s important to monitor their technology use and mix it up with real world experiences.

Teaching a classroom full of Generation Z-ers or managing them at work could put your traditional leadership skills to the test if you’re not already parents of tech savvy kids. Constant access to speedy electronic devices has created a generation with a strong desire for instant feedback. Also, although they have tons of information at their fingertips, they sometimes have trouble determining which sources are reliable (evidenced by the recent popularity of Wikipedia for research purposes.)

If you are a member of Generation Z, and you’ve reached early adulthood, real life situations like marriage could prove challenging for you. If your significant other is also a Z-er, and much of your courtship was largely based on Facebook interactions with a little sexting thrown in on the side, make sure you flip down the lid of your laptop and power down your iPhone in favor of some in-person lip service. Although those me!me! messages can be really funny, what’s even better is when she holds your hand while you talk about us!us!

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