A few nights ago, I went out in our garage to put our recycling items into our recycling bin, and I walked right past the bins. Even though my husband moved the recycling bins several months ago, my brain had shifted into auto-pilot as I took out the recycling that evening, and I walked to where the bins used to sit.
I knew that my husband had moved the bins, yet I still walked right past them. It was habit that caused me to walk to where the bins used to sit. That got me thinking. What would it look like if we could use the power of creating habits to improve our communication and speaking skills?
What are habits, anyway? Webster’s dictionary defines a habit as “A recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.” A 2006 paper published by a Duke University researcher found that 40-45% of our daily actions are habits, not decision making. Relating our habits to speaking – what if you were to create one simple behavior that would improve your speaking? What one simple habit could you create that would have a ripple effect and improve other aspects of your life as well?
Here is my list of 3 simple, new behaviors that could become daily habits and make a huge difference in your speaking ability:
1. Deep Breathing. Researchers and health practitioners have touted the benefits of deep breathing in calming nerves and reducing stress. Incorporating regular deep breathing exercises as a daily routine has also been known to spark creativity. Here are 3 breathing exercises by Dr. Andrew Weil, a physician and pioneer in integrative medicine, as a resource:
2. Posture. Depending on your work environment, you may not be aware of your posture throughout the course of your day. Good posture allows more oxygen to get into your lungs and can make you look and feel more confident. For good posture, lift your head and chest, as if a string was pulling you up. Check your posture throughout your day – are you slumping?
3. Smile. Your smile is the way you communicate connection and engagement – even if you are just talking on the phone! Smiling has also been shown to reduce stress because endorphins are released when we authentically smile. How many ways can you find throughout your day to laugh and/or smile?
Habits aren’t created overnight. They are specific behaviors that are practiced with regularity and consistency so that they become automatic.
What new habit(s) will you adopt this year?