Napoleon Hill, in his book Think and Grow Rich, states: “You must have an abundance and prosperity mindset.” When I first read these words, my mind turned to money since it is the measure of prosperity in the physical world. It can determine the house I live in, the clothes I buy my children, and the food I eat. Like you however, I don’t broker solely in monetary terms. I also broker my life in people terms through relationships. Abundance and prosperity come from relationships that take me out of my own thought bubble into a shared one.

I imagine a shared thought bubble over the tops of the heads of the people I love, the people I lead, and the people I learn along with. When there’s true synergy, the meeting of eyes and even more importantly, the meeting of understanding, my thoughts are not the most important. Continuing the synergy and the understanding that will come out of the conversation are what’s most important.

This synergy and understanding only happens when I decide to enter the conversation with the agreement to listen and to not simply wait until someone is done talking before I launch in with my own ideas.

Living in Rhythm

At the freshwater marsh on Pawleys Island’s south side, my family and I have witnessed hermit crabs, a few alligators, a shark, sea hares, fish of all sorts, sand dollars, and starfish, and we’ve played on jet skis, boats, kayaks and paddle boards. Just like a good conversation though, a trip to Pawleys requires planning and good intention. There is a rhythm to the day that operates around the tide, and for us to enjoy it, we have to pay attention to that rhythm.

During high tide, we can swim in the water, but we can’t easily get over to the other side lovingly named Crab Island by my boys. The current is too strong, and the water is too deep. Since we’ve learned the water’s rhythm, we time our trips to coincide with the low tide, so we can experience as many of the things that Mother Earth has to offer as possible. We know that the abundance of the creek is always there. We just have to do a little work to enjoy it.

Filter out the Toxins

Not only does the low tide indicate fun for us, it also indicates that this natural filtering system has completed another cycle. Pollution and toxins shake out. The same is true in dialogue. That ebb and flow of dialogue nourishes and clarifies a conversation in the same way a freshwater marsh filters the impurities brought in by the ocean.

Instead of the confusion that can happen in emails, texts, and phone calls, having the benefit of physical presence tells you so much. You can hear where someone places emphasis, where they pause, and where they speed up. This will all inform your understanding of where the speaker is comfortable, nervous, or unsure. When you’re in conversation, be mindful of this ebb and flow.

Conversational pollutants can be avoided if you enter into the conversation with these few tips:

1. Completely focus on the speaker: When the other person is speaking, quiet your mind and really listen. That means you have to stop thinking about your to-do list. You have to quiet your grumbling stomach, and you have to stop paying attention to your surroundings. The highest compliment I’ve heard someone give about another person is, “She always made me feel as if I was the most important person in the world.” This is how you earn that praise.

2. Expect to learn something: Each person brings a different set of experiences and perspectives to a conversation, so be willing to learn from each speaker and look for the points of connection. When you listen intently, you will hear the nuances of emotion and priority behind the speaker’s words. It’ll give you buoys and anchors for that conversation and for future ones too.

3. Risk losing your train of thought: Sometimes, I find myself in conversation, and a brilliant thought pops into my head. If I don’t say it right away, oftentimes, that brilliant thought sails away never to return. However, if I interrupt the speaker with this thought, then I risk missing the speaker’s brilliant point. I have found that when I listen intently, my own thoughts aren’t so fleeting. They have more weight, like a sand dollar burrowing into the sand when the tide turns. By listening with intention, my thoughts settle in and build, becoming a sand castle of sorts whose design I could have never completed on my own.

Do you struggle to communicate  with clarity? You are not alone. With so much to juggle, everyone struggles with how to deliver their message clearly and consistently. Leaders Building Leaders can help your organization clarify your communication strategy to become more effective for your stakeholders and for your organization. Jump start your communication plan by reaching out for a free lunch and learn training based with Leaders Building Leaders on the three principles discussed here. We’d love to help you ready your sails and launch into greatness!

This blog was written by Katy Ridnouer, Leadership Coach, Speaker and Trainer with Leaders Building Leaders. If you found this content valuable, please share it. If you want to learn how you can more effectively communicate with your teachers and staff then reach out to me at for a complimentary discovery session. You create the agenda; you bring the challenges. Let Katy be your thought partner.

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