If you want to know how to have better communication skills , you’ll love this article.
Building connection should always start with you, right? Not quite.
People initiate conversations even at times when you do not send any hint of interest. In fact, some people cannot pick up the hints that tell them to go away because not everyone has a healthy level of emotional quotient and sensitivity. An engaging conversation and rapport can happen between two people regardless of how they started.
Someone with a compelling personality and interesting matter to talk about can easily change your mind even when you do not like talking to them in the beginning. As you change your mind, it will probably be you who will be more interested in keeping the conversation.
There are also times when the person who initiates the conversation seems less interested than you are. In this case, you have to pick up the conversation to keep it going and satisfy your need for information.
For instance, special guests in business conferences initiate conversation out of courtesy and professional obligation. As an ordinary guest, you will probably benefit more than they will from small talk, so you have to do something to extend it and penetrate their private space.
How To Have Better Communication Skills:
How can you make a good impression without really planning to, and how can you pick up a conversation in the most effective way? Here are four communication strategies to guide you.
Having a Conversation Plan
Always prepare topics and transitional statements when you are talking with people you are not too familiar with to avoid awkward moments – those moments when both persons seem to run out of words to say. It is not like having a script; more like having a conversation outline. This is important when you are about to enter an important conversation.
Memorizing introductory lines can be a success when you know how to use them with a natural flow. Practicing them often can help. Nonetheless, it may be more helpful if you just prepare the topics that you can talk about. Think of the acronym FORD, which stands for family, occupation, recreation and dreams.
These are the topics that interest most people, which will make any conversation energetic, natural and interesting. Depending on the personality of the person you are talking with, raise a question that will make them answer honestly.
You need to be sensitive, though. Do not raise a topic about family when the person is grumpy because the common reasons why people become impetuous are family and money. Do not raise a topic about occupation when the person does not seem to have a high-paying or regular job because that may embarrass them.
Transitional phrases, on the other hand, can avoid making conversations awkward. Changing topic or planning to cut the conversation is like saying “I’m losing interest.” That does not sound polite, right? However, by using proper transitional phrases, changing and ending any conversation becomes natural and sounds nice.
The best transitional phrases are compliments and affirmations of what a person has just said. They can go before a question, or make the question the compliment.
For instance, a guy is prying for information from a girl he finds attractive and he wants to go from the vocation topic to her love life. The guy can say “You are definitely a better student than I am.
So I assume you are not in a relationship right now.” If that seems too nosy, he can ask “So how can a hard-working student still find time for a relationship?” A person who likes to answer with all honesty will either correct or affirm that. It is also easier to read between the lines based on her reaction to the guy’s statement.
Sharing a Story
Stories are compelling and intriguing. They tap into the emotions of a person, which makes any conversation more interesting and genuine. There are a lot of instances when people are not really interested in what you have to say but still have to listen anyway out of nicety. To pique their interest, share a moving story or an anecdote that possibly relates to them.
Sharing a story is more like the unspoken rule in motivational and keynote speaking. It is a good way to break the ice, calm an agitated audience, and create sections in long speeches.
How about when you are just having a normal schmoozing with a stranger? Won’t it be awkward to tell a story? If you have a natural gift for humor, telling an anecdote may work. What works better though is sharing your own story to impress or show vulnerability. Some people gravitate towards achievements and credentials, but some people find it boastful.
Similarly, some people trust a real person who is not afraid to show his weakness, but some find it too familiar. You have to gauge the other person’s personality before making a move.
Commonality is one of the strongest connections between two persons communicating with each other regardless of the actual relationship they have. Finding any commonality by taking hints from a person’s spoken information (voluntarily and involuntarily), expressions, accent, appearance, and gestures is the surest way to establish a sense of camaraderie and level of comfort.
This will eventually develop into trust. You need to have keen eyes and ears to become spontaneous in deliberately finding commonality while having a conversation. You need to pick up the smallest and fleeting details that sometimes speak more about a person’s personality.
Shared geographical origin is best determined by appearance, accent, and spoken information. It is a great rapport builder especially if the common denominator is ethnicity (provided that you belong to the minority), citizenship, and fond memories. Commonality by interest and preference is best determined by picking up hints from spoken information, appearance, and gesture. Be particularly observant of his eye movements because his eyes usually look at his point of interest.
Belonging to the same network also gives you the privilege of invading his personal space until he sends you a signal to stop or has some reservation. Networks or circles of similar people usually have unspoken codes that oblige the members to be accommodating and to a certain degree, trusting, of their comrades. These networks include clubs, professional organizations, academic institutions, business organizations, and political affiliations.
Although positive commonality is compelling, many people are more easily influenced by negative commonality. Dislikes and negative opinions sometimes build instant trust because people who disapprove usually look for approval of their decisions and preferences. They want to know if other people share their dislike, especially if that dislike is considered against the popular opinion.
You do not have to agree by heart if you know that your conversation does not have to result to a personal or professional relationship. If you really cannot agree, at least do him the favor of justifying his own opinion without selling your own beliefs. For instance, saying that he hates sports while you don’t could cause friction. There is no need to agree, but you can say “Hatred does exist in many people nowadays, some of whom have valid reasons.”
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Communicating with your Ears
A balanced conversation is 50% talking and 50% listening. A healthy discourse is often about giving both sides enough time to talk and listen. However, not everyone who wants to start a conversation is looking for someone to talk with; many of them are looking for someone to talk to. What’s the difference?
Someone who wants to talk with another person encourages repartee and equal opportunity to share their thoughts. That is your cue to initiate communication by answering back and making a good impression with your opinions.
On the other hand, someone who wants to talk to another person encourages listening because his main objective in initiating the conversation is to simply blurt out his opinions and emotions. This is your cue to initiate communication by showing your intent to listen carefully and understand what the other person is saying.
You are encouraged to be vocal about your approval or disapproval, but be sure that you give the spotlight to the other person to gain his trust. Oftentimes, using non-verbal communication suffices. Such gestures include nodding, looking directly to their eyes, frowning, smiling, and laughing.
A study shows that in most job interviews, the interviewers speak almost 80% of the time, which leaves the applicants with only 20% to make a good impression. It also means that most job applicants have higher chances of winning the job by becoming a good listener than a good talker. Like speaking, listening leaves a lot of hints about a person’s personality, such as patience, diligence, sincerity, and his ability to comprehend and analyze.
These five strategies will help you communicate better with fewer words and by doing less.
Repeating the Question When Answering
Repeating what you have just been told verbatim may sound sarcastic to you, but it does work effectively because it implies that you are paying attention to what the other person has just asked. That alone is already a nice gesture, which makes you look affectionate and genuinely interested to help with a proper answer.
This is a communication trick that works quite well when talking to a superior, answering a question in a business meeting or job interview, or having a casual conversation with an important person. It creates impact even when used on spur-of-the-moment remarks.
For instance, when your boss asks you “Do you think we can finish all the reports before the day ends?” answer with “I am confident that we can finish all the reports before the day ends.” That answer is reassuring because you used the same words that reflected his doubt.
It also helps to repeat the subject of each question when answering. For instance, you can answer “The meeting with my new client all went according to plan” when you are asked “How did the meeting with your new client go?”
People always have an expected answer before they ask a question. These are the answers that they hope to hear to finally feel relieved. By using the same words that obviously appeal to them the most, you also connect to them instantly in a deeper manner.
Repetition is a powerful technique that builds rapport and gains the approval of other people. You can even end a conversation using repetition without anybody noticing it. Like body language mimicking, it produces a hypnotic effect as you practically reinforce a person’s opinions and emotions by clandestinely fawning. You cannot use verbatim repetition in all of your statements, but you can wisely execute it when you also paraphrase and use only the keywords.
Repetition makes any conversation spontaneous for several reasons.
- First, repeating the keywords that the other person uses shows a lot about your sincerity to listen.
- Second, it reinforces the other person’s confidence in sharing his opinions. Boost another person’s ego and you are bound to receive the rewards, their approval and trust included.
- Third, it clearly establishes the direction of a conversation. In this case, your goal is to sway the conversation towards the direction he wants to go first. Allowing him to meet his goals before yours subconsciously obliges him to return the favor afterwards.
All you need here are a good pair of ears and basic skills in paraphrasing. Mark in your mind all the keywords that he uses while speaking. These words are the ones you have to repeat when you answer. They can be adjectives that describe his emotions. They can be the subject of the conversation. They can be the first few phrases that indicate where the entire conversation is going.
For instance, when he says “The stock market had a terrible closing yesterday, and I’m really worried” you can say “Well, the stock market really had a terrible closing yesterday, but I think the drop in the index is just temporary.”
Looking for Hints to Listen
These hints include facial expression, gesture, posture, tone, and words. Nonetheless, identifying these hints needs more than heightened alertness; you need emotional prediction to determine what the other person really wants. You should have understood by now that listening is sometimes louder than talking, but you have to know the right time to listen.
A person who looks so excited, angry, or sad probably has more things to say than you have. Be mindful of other people’s emotions (1) because they are the ones who have so many things to share. Similarly, let a person who seems to have a problem speak first, no matter how long or irrelevant to you it will be. Waiting for him to open up is the best chance you can have to gain his trust and subsequently build rapport for stronger communication.
Gesture and posture that indicate invitation and consoling are also common signs. These include dropped shoulders, dropped chin, heavy breathing, and crossed arms.
The most obvious signs are indicated by a person’s tone and words. Rhetoric questions and questions delivered as statements are usually just looking for ears to enter. You can respond to these signs with short answers that encourage the person to continue talking.
Affective statements like “Let me buy you a coffee,” “I don’t have anything important to do,” and “Do you want to talk about it?” sometimes fulfill half your part in the conversation. Asking encouraging questions like “What happened?” “Is there something wrong?” a nd “Are you alright?” also initiates deep conversation even between persons not too close with each other.
Being a talker at a time the person needs a listener will give you a bad impression.
Encouraging Another Person to Talk About Himself
One problem of communication is the lack of openness from the other side. One fast way to get another to trust and open to you is to ask them about themself. Most people love to talk about themselves because it makes them proud and admirable.
Some people talk because of sheer arrogance but most talk because of the special emotions and connections that they have for themselves, their achievements, their experiences, and their loved ones. Won’t you like to talk about something that you have worked hard for? It is the same for everyone.
Bring the topic to him and show interest and excitement, whether they are genuine or not. Imply admiration. That creates a personal connection between the two of you. Lending them your ears is already enough for them to offer their trust.
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Making Communication Clearer
Communication is not just about sending and receiving a message. It also includes finding connections and eliminating confusion. Following these strategies will help you become a better communicator before you know it.
Mimicking Another Person’s Way of Talking
Mimicking tonality can come across as mocking, but doing it properly as you go on with a conversation subconsciously makes another person believe that there is genuine connection between you two. That connection makes verbal and non-verbal communication clearer.
Some neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) experts suggest that accent should also be mimicked as geographical connection is usually very strong. However, this author advises against it as using fake accent strongly comes across negatively. Mimic it only if you are a really good impersonator.
Mimicking should start with volume level. Speak as softly as the other person does to avoid hint of aggression, but speak as loudly as he does to avoid being intimidated. Moreover, matching pitches indicate matching emotions while same phrasing indicates the same way of thinking.
Mimicking speed of speech also makes the other person comfortable as the brain automatically flags differences in speech rate as part of defense mechanism. If possible, synchronize with his breathing as this brings hypnotic effect.
For instance, your brain tends to warn you when somebody talks with you really fast. Fast talking is typically associated with sales talk and swindling. On the other hand, slow talking gives you a bad impression as the other person may think that you are stupid or have slow comprehension.
Mimicking makes you a compelling conversationalist, but do not change your phase or tonality suddenly because you will be put under suspicion of manipulating (which what you are essentially doing) or eccentricity. A person who is already deeply engaged in a conversation may no longer notice the changes you do to your manner of speaking.
Avoiding Meaningless Fillers
“Ah,” “um,” and “like” are filler words in conversations and presentations that do not bear any meaning. They make your statements vaguer and make you look amateur (a nicer way to say dumb).
These small words may not bother you at all, but they do bother a lot of people, especially the critical communicators and the ones who like formal and smart conversations. You do not expect to utter these words repeatedly and end up winning the biggest business deal of your life, do you?
Using meaningless fillers (2) is practically saying “I don’t know what to say” and “I’m not sure about what I’m saying.” It annoys a lot of people, but what you should be really worried about is that it exposes you more than what you think. Habitually using them shows your insecurity, anxiousness, uneasiness, uncertainty, nervousness, and to a certain level, your intelligence.
Why do you use fillers? Usually, they come out naturally as you think about what to say. They create pauses that buy you time but distract the flow of your statements. Keep in mind that many people get weaker comprehension when annoyed and distracted, but that is practically what you are doing to them. Also, they show the emotions that you try to hide.
You probably have not noticed yet, but filler words only commonly come out of your mouth during formal conversations and conversations with people who make you anxious, like your boss or a college professor. It is likely that you already have a thought problem if you still use a lot of “ah” and “um” even in casual conversations with a close friend or family member.
How do you stop using them?
- First, accept the problem and acknowledge your flaw. You cannot consciously change this habit if you arrogantly deny it. Listen to yourself every time you speak so you will know the instances when you usually use them.
- Second, relax your mind and body. Relax your shoulders, take out your hands where people can see it, and stand or sit straight. You can hold something if that makes you comfortable, but do not let it distract other people.
- Third, pause often. The few seconds you use to utter fillers can be used to pause. You can think without saying anything. There is power in pauses when matched with strong eye contact, relaxed arms and hands, and straight posture. Even motivational speakers and political leaders do it when delivering a speech.
- Fourth, slow down. You will have more time to think about what you want to say when you talk slower. It will also calm you down and make your breathing deeper.
- Lastly, practice these tips over and over again.
Using Appropriate Language, Tone, and Terms
Communication is not only about understanding the words and body language. There is also harmony or unspoken agreement between two conversing people. This is what is lacking when you disagree with a person you dislike even if you know that what he is saying is right.
People naturally gravitate towards someone who speak in a way familiar to them. Doing the opposite repels them. Maintaining the formality in your voice when you are in a meeting is considered appropriate because that is the lingua franca in the business world. However, when you try to address a group of jobless, poverty-stricken people with a lofty and formal tone, they might think that you are condescending.
You do not have to fit in all the time, especially when colloquialism is not your forte. However, you need to be sensitive about people’s level of comprehension and preferences because you may come across as too strong and insulting. Be particularly careful about using jargons and idiomatic expressions, and your tone. Do not make people feel that you are superior when you are having a friendly conversation.