It isn’t a matter of time, but a matter of priorities
It’s time again for another episode of my weekly reflections. As announced, this one will be a little longer. It’d really appreciate if you wrote me what you like more (this length or like the posts before). The tendency, though, seems to indicate that the format as the recent ones fits you more. So much for that little request. Let’s jump right into my learnings of this week.
End your meetings and conversation with positive energy
In the beginning, when I started reading books about personal development, I read an article on a topic that went in the direction of “the art of a good conversation”. Unfortunately, I forgot what the title of the article was. Yet, I could keep parts of the content in my memory.
According to the article one crucial part of a great conversation – in particular important when getting to know new people – is the ending of it. Most people would think that the end of a chat is relatively meaningless compared to the “middle” or “beginning” of it. However, the ending is as important as the other parts. At first, I thought “Yes, maybe this article is right, but I mean come on: After the conversation hits its end we are done and this is totally okay”. This was two and a half years ago. But then, after following the advice of the writer (well, more than two years later) I do admit that the ending of even the smallest chat is of great importance.
First of all, what was I even advised to do? As far as I remember the writer wanted to persuade the readers to let never again end a conversation with low energy. This is to say that 1.) YOU should always end the conversation 2.) with a high energy atmosphere and 3.) a good hook for the next conversation.
Some examples to make this more illustrative: 1) You know this situation: You met someone you know and you have a little small talk. Somehow the conversation becomes/keeps superficial and shallow or one of you both just wants to end the conversation (e. g. due to time constraints), but you are feeling uncomfortable ending the chat. What is likely to happen? The conversation becomes more and more unpleasant – for both of you – until one has the courage to end it. In order to prevent such situations, I highly recommend you to always end the conversation by yourself, and not when it is too late.
What brings us to 2): What is meant by ending it with high energy? It is quite simple: You have already often experienced this feeling of pleasure, happiness, eager for more, enjoyment etc. in conversations. You laugh, have fun, joke around, listen carefully – all in all have a very good time. Usually, you have this kind of feelings when the conversation hits its climax. Therefore, reaching this state shouldn’t be difficult to you when you have decent conversational skills and the setting allows it (the other person, the general atmosphere, circumstances…) as you have already achieved this many time. But if you generally have problems reaching such a state, you should focus on that first (you can write me a message if you would like to have any advice or materials such as videos, books, articles…). Now, how can you end the conversation in such a high energy state? There is a quite simple answer to this: You just end the conversation when you hit the climax. As the saying goes: “Leave on a high note.” In view of my experiences it has worked really well when I ended the conversation after a joke or after we laughed about something more or less random.
What leads us to the last point 3): Finish with a good hook for the next conversation. Hook in this context particularly means that you have something to continue the conversation on another day or in another setting (e. g. on WhatsApp). This can be the bad joke you made use of to end the conversation, other jokes which were used in the talk, joint interests you want to undertake together (sports like go jogging/for a walk, visit something you have always wanted to, try something new you both want to, collaborate/learn together, …). I am convinced that the more often you apply this method, the more ideas creativity you will have.
In my case this works really really well. Since I tried this out, I have been able to leave conversations with a much more positive feeling and prevented many of these awkward situations in which the conversation should end but didn’t. Moreover, I think it is much more pleasurable for your friends/conversation partner as well if you are able to implement this method properly. Eventually, I am sure that this can compensate a bad beginning of a conversation (so, your first impression is affected by your “last” one).
I would be great if you give it a try and in case it will start working, let me know how you are feeling about it!
Accomplish the most annoying task of a day first
The second learning of this week is something you might have heard several times before: Do the most annoying task/to-do list entry/stuff/call/whatever first; and do it as fast as possible. I mean this sounds very simple, but the impact of implementing this habit can be huge as you might have experienced, too. For me, it feels very unpleasant not being able to accomplish an annoying task first in the morning because as long as this duty is not done, I will have a pretty uncomfortable feeling, cannot calm down, be stressed and have a negative mood. It feels like you have a very important exam in the afternoon you just want to get over.
The problem with these annoying tasks is that most of the time those duties are not urgent in the first place BUT they can become very urgent if you do not get them done timely. In my case this week I needed to book trains to make the most out of my free weekends during my summer internship. In Germany (to all my non-German readers), we have the Deutsche Bahn and it is quite expensive to boke a train in the last minute. Moreover, I really enjoy taking the train and – yeah, I really depend on it, too (broke student, no car, you know). So, I need to book the train very early to be able to get the needed discounts. But in order to do so, I have to coordinate with my family and friends at my home town when they have time for me. This might sound very silly to you, but I really don’t like coordinating this. It is very difficult to reconcile the interests of my family and friends. Just a quick explanation why this is a chore for me: My parents have been separated since my childhood. They live about 40 kilometers/25 miles apart. Moreover, as my home town is in a very rural region my friends are also very split apart in terms of space. Hence, I really need to rationalize how I can make the most out of my time at the weekend as you have just like 48 hours. Additionally, I will be in the USA for a half year in two months. Therefore, there is even pressure on me to spend time with all the people I want to see before departing. In order to coordinate this, I need to tell my friends that I am very restricted and although they are very important for me, I have to tell them that I want to see the other friends and family members as well. In addition, I need to make choices regarding which train stations I am going to arrive as I have to be picked up by car – very bad public transportation you know, and, THEREFORE, it was a very annoying challenge to me (well, the explanation was not that short). Additionally, train prices can increase day by day and the longer I waited, the more expensive the tickets became.
So, I had this chore (annoying task) and the longer I waited the more annoying it became. This week I realized that I have procrastinated a lot regarding this issue since I more and more felt this unpleasant feeling again. And I knew that it has become very urgent (prices have already soared). Consequently, I put this annoying task the first thing I will tackle the next day. At the evening before, I scheduled all the calls with my family and friends from my home town and sent all the messages to gather the necessary info (who has when and where time for me). The next day then, I was able to create a proper plan and, thus, I could book the trains in accordance with the availability of friends and family. After I had booked the last train, I felt such a freeing feeling like I would have just finished an important exam.
Now, reflecting about this I am very grateful for this learning. If I hadn’t put this chore the first thing in the morning – I am quite sure – I wouldn’t have got it done this day. And if I hadn’t got it done this day, I wouldn’t most likely haven’t accomplished it today.
I really hope I managed to make clear what this learning is about and why it helps me to make my life a little better and happier.
That’s it for this week. Hope you enjoyed it and could learn something for yourself. Let me know if there is anything you want to ask or tell me.
All the best to you and yours,