What is the point of knowledge if not to be shared? For the last few months, NOMAWO CLUB has been meeting weekly and diving into the nitty-gritty details of freelance and independent professional life. The ups, the downs, the in-betweens, the inspirations and aspirations, and all the things unique to our lives.
And just a few weeks ago, Rob Whelan, one of our members from the start had a truly brilliant idea. He suggested we begin sharing the wealth of wisdom and knowledge the community generates each week. So moving forward, each month, we'll have a recap of the main takeaways from the previous few weeks of CLUB.
In the past three weeks alone, we've covered communication styles and barriers, intercultural communication, and self-care as a freelancer or entrepreneur in our weekly masterminds. And let us tell you, the community has had something to say about each topic and come with the best questions, incredible suggestions (tried and true), and a whole lot of passion.
So, without further ado, we'll dive into what the CLUB has said about communication styles & barriers.
Communication Style & Barriers
Communication is king, queen, and pretty much every other form of royalty in business and in life. Failure to communicate properly typically leads to quite a few, entirely preventable, headaches, tensions, and mishaps. But we all also have various methods of communication, styles we've unconsciously adopted, and styles we are striving to achieve. When we brought this to the CLUB, Rob spoke a lot about guessing and asking cultures.
Asking culture - people who come from asking cultures are comfortable asking for things AND comfortable with being told no. For them, it's no harm, no foul.
Guessing culture - people who come from guessing cultures typically guess what requests are most likely to receive a 'yes' and only ask for those. They may also hear requests like an expectation and dislike the discomfort of saying no.
Now you can imagine what happens when people from these two kinds of request cultures work together. And what do you do with that? Establishing expectations early on is key. It might require you to be flexible with how you communicate but if your boundaries and expectations are clear, it might not be a problem.
Regardless of request culture, learning how to over-communicate, ask a lot of questions, and find different methods of getting the same point across are going to be helpful skills. You might find phone calls are great but in a progressively async world, communicating via email and text is going to be pivotal. Learn how.
Emma Norton, a CLUB and SCALE member, also mentioned that there was something liberating or freeing about learning how to make requests but also in learning how to say no. In learning to communicate, we learn to connect, and we're all better off for it.
In this progressively globalized world, most of us have had some cross-border partners, clients, or colleagues. Learning how to communicate across cultures and languages is becoming more and more necessary as a result. So we asked our community - how do you learn this? How do you practice it?
Rob brought back our conversation from the previous week - noting how some cultures are more 'ask' oriented and others are more 'guess' oriented. Emma brought up multilingualism. And somehow we all noted that we work better with people not from our countries.
In any regard, the solutions or the tangible actions came down to a few simple things. Ask a lot of questions, decide how you want to communicate early on, and be as clear as possible. So much of communication is about what is understood, not necessarily what is expressed.
In a sense, it was repetitious to our previous conversation. What differed were the comments on checking your own internal bias, having patience for linguistic differences, and always seeking more clarity.
Self-care as a Freelancer or Entrepreneur
Our mental, emotional, and physical health are paramount. They are far more important than our work. These things are also intricately linked. Work allows us to afford the things we need to maintain our overall health - from the basics of seeing a doctor and keeping a roof over our heads to the not-so-basic but still important things that bring us joy, health, and sanity.
But as freelancers and entrepreneurs, this takes on a new nuance. As CLUB member, Renske Ensing, said 'You are the most important asset of your business.' You are the entire C-suite and the person who provides the service. The health of your business is intricately tied to your health.
And Rob reminded us that the strange thing is, we're not really taught how to take care of ourselves. In school, if we're taught at all, we're taught poorly. We're taught to sacrifice sleep in the name of meeting due dates and deadlines but never really taught adequate time management. So the question is, what has our community learned and committed to since becoming freelancers to navigate this world?
Most of our community is all for a little yoga and meditation, daily walks outside, and a warm cup of tea or coffee. They also talk heavily about setting boundaries with themselves and clients - what their schedule will look like, the things they'll prioritize, how they'll work together, what communication will look like, when they'll be available to respond to messages or phone calls, and so on. Sometimes self-care is a boundary, sometimes it's a break, and sometime's it's making sure they're getting enough sleep.
When listening to the different ways people have for caring for themselves, we noticed a theme. Self-care seems to be the word we use for the things that bring joy to our lives.
Aristotle said 'you are what you repeatedly do.' Do you repeatedly do things that bring you joy? Do you repeatedly do things that bring purpose and meaning to your life? Maybe you take a card from Katrien Rennemeier's book. This CLUB member is working on developing a daily gratitude practice that sets the done both for her day and for her night.
What is self-care for you?
CLUB topics vary week-by-week and are often inspired by whatever is front-of-mind for the community. They never cease to be full of insight and lived experience from a community of individuals striving to be better every day at what they already do well. Upcoming topics might include gender bias in the workplace, nuances of bookkeeping and accounting, and productivity. But really, the list of possibilities is endless.
Who knows? Maybe you'll join us for the next one.