As the beginning of the new year approaches, our minds often turn to a review of what we accomplished in the year coming to a close, as well as what we’d like to accomplish in the year ahead. These resolutions often focus on making better choices about our physical health. However, we could also resolve to improve our communication behavior in the New Year, as doing so can also increase our quality of life. So, we asked communication experts to suggest communication resolutions for 2012. Here’s what they suggested….
While amidst the finishing stages of my dissertation I began the process of becoming a certified yoga instructor. When teaching (and practicing yoga), being present in the moment and communicating with intention is imperative. Too easily can distracting thoughts cause the instructor to lose her or his place and students to misstep. Likewise, while writing, I learned that too much attention to what had been written or what still needed to be written prevented me from actually writing. Living in the moment is a challenge many people face and so I offer the more nuanced resolution of communicating with intention. In each moment, notice the words you choose, the tones you use and the body language you convey. Don’t get pulled into the past by memories nor tempted into the future by possibilities, rather focus on the now, be in the present, and communicate with awareness and compassion.
Rachel E. Silverman, Ph.D., Embry Riddle University
I have two communication resolutions for 2012. First, I want to give more of my undivided attention, especially to family. I need to practice mindfulness. I often am preoccupied with other thoughts, conversations, and tasks. I give only half of my attention to a lot of discussions and it shows. I miss opportunities for important conversations and send the wrong message to those important to me. Second, I want to communicate gratefulness. I tell myself that those I appreciate most know how special they are to me and how thankful I am for them. I know that is not really true. It is often the people I love the most who hear it the least. It is possible to hear “thank you, I value you” or “I love you” too much? Here’s to a happy, healthy, mindful, grateful 2012!
Courtney Waite Miller, Ph.D., Elmhurst College
Smile. It’s a simple thing that not only is good for you but those around you. Yale psychology professor Marianne LaFrance reports on several benefits that come from smiling. People with big grins live almost five years longer. When we see a smile, we get an emotional high. Also, smiles and happiness are contagious. So, if you smile, so will your friends. Smiling allows me to initiate conversations, helps me make friends and get around easier when I’m travelling, helps minimize job-related problems, and has even improved my dating life. Research also shows that smiling makes us look younger, improves our mood, lowers blood pressure, boosts endorphins, and makes us appear more attractive. Smiles provide a safe conduit for new beginnings.
Stacey A. Peterson, Ph.D., Notre Dame of Maryland University
I resolve to more thoroughly consider how my verbal and nonverbal communication reflects my own choices, and, more importantly, how my word choice, argument choice, and nonverbal messages affect the choices of others.
John Meyer, Ph.D., University of Southern Mississippi
My resolution for readers of Communication Currents is really an axiom for behavior: Lower expectations should lead to higher levels of personal happiness. Tom Magliozzi, host of NPR’s “Car Talk” once said, “Happiness equals reality minus expectations” and I think he’s on to something. The Danes have relatively low expectations and they have been rated as one of the happiest countries in the world for over 30 years, according to the Eurobarometer Survey. The notion of lower expectations is focused on becoming more open to appreciating “what is” rather than dwelling on what has been or what should be in the future. This resolution is as much for myself as it is for you, the reader. I want to be more mindful in my thinking and remember that no one is perfect (except for Mary Poppins and even then she was only “practically perfect” not “actually perfect”) in every way.
Laurie Pratt, M.A., Chaffey College, Chino Campus
I resolve to write better subject lines in all of my emails.
- The subject line should make the message easy to file and easy to find; for example, start with the course number, the committee name, etc.
- The topic should follow and give the reader a good clue about the message. For example, “homework” and “tomorrow’s class” do not provide a good clue. But “COMMS 241 – Homework Due 1.1.12” does.
I also resolve to never, ever send an email without a subject line.
Franziska Macur, Ph.D., Edgewood College
Family members who are dispersed often experience sadness due to a perceived disconnect with their loved ones, especially around the holidays. However, new communication technologies, such as Skype, allow dispersed family members to stay closer by having more interactivity with each other through video conversations. Thus, I recommend that families who do not live in immediate proximity to each other make the “communication” resolution to learn to use one new communication technology for the New Year. Doing so will allow families to improve their communication and sense of connectedness. To do so, I suggest that younger family members, who tend to be more adept at using technology, take the time to teach their parents and/or grandparents a new communication technology, such as Skype. Keeping this resolution will improve family members’ communication throughout the year.
David H. Kahl, Jr., Ph.D., Penn State Erie, The Behrend College
Here is a fast and free way share holiday cheer with coworkers. Express gratitude and appreciation about something coworkers have specifically done to three different people in your workplace--one with whom you are close and friendly, one whom you barely know and one who has, at some time, done you wrong. Research shows that expressing gratitude channels positive emotions, moods and feelings for the grateful individual. It also encourages health and wellness, enacts positive coping, buffers depressive responses and toxic work environments, and can help reappraise an unpleasant event or memory you may have experienced at work or home. Furthermore, gratitude spirals outward, encouraging others to feel appreciative and grateful to those around them and promotes prosocial behaviors that extend beyond the initial dyadic relationship. This holiday season consider what you are grateful for in those you work with and you will inspire health and happiness in your workplace.
Gino A. Giannini, M.A. & Sarah J. Tracy, Ph.D., Arizona State University