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How To Be Likeable By Improving Your Communication Skills

How To Be Likeable By Improving Your Communication Skills

If the thought of conducting a conversation with someone conjures up feelings of anxiety then you’re not alone. Some people seem to have a natural ability to spark up interesting and engaging topics of discussion while you feel you struggle to think of anything or even the right thing to say. Perhaps you’ve started a new job and you find it hard to start or carry on conversations with your new colleagues, maybe you want to strike up casual conversation with people but you find the conversation doesn’t really develop.

The biggest misconception when it comes to good conversation is the idea that we need to keep the conversation going by any means possible. However, it’s all about the quality of the conversation rather than the amount you say.

Awkward conversations happen to all of us but there are ways to improve your communication skills that give you a head start on developing easy interactions with people. Much like any other skill, communication needs to be practised in order to build it up, so with some guidance you can start to strike up those conversations with confidence and show your true likability.

How To Improve Communication Skills

1. Ask The Right Type Of Questions

You’ve probably heard that talking too much and not asking questions is a sure-fire way to deaden a conversation. However, it’s all about asking the right type of questions.

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Questions that require a certain knowledge background, or are too broad or too difficult to answer in short simplified sentences, can leave the other person feeling uncomfortable and unable to answer. This, in turn, can create that conversational ‘dead air’ and can make it hard for the other person to continue the conversation.

Instead, to communicate in a positive way that allows the conversation to develop and grow, the questions should be simple, relatable and applicable. For example, you could ask something simple like “Are you watching any good TV shows these days?” and then explore more topics from the answers they give.

2. Avoid Negative Talk

One way we feel we can bond with others, either individually or in a group, is to speak negatively. For example, your boss is doing something your department doesn’t like so you take the opportunity to voice your negative opinions.

People who are equally fed up with the boss will join in but be aware that not all people will want to speak in such a negative way – it may not be in their nature or they just don’t want to create a negative environment therefore making it hard for them to respond. It may even hamper how some people perceive you.

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While speaking negatively can get things off your chest, make sure you strike a good balance between negative talk and positive. If you’re going to bad-mouth your boss for a decision she’s made, you can go on to say despite this she’s a great boss and you’re sure it’ll work out fine. This will allow you to be more likeable to people because, at the end of the day, no one likes a constant negative talker – it looks bad and doesn’t show your good side.

3. Use Interesting Language

By this I don’t mean you need to know fancy words! However, using plain and somewhat boring words can sometimes be a conversation killer. When describing anything – perhaps somewhere you’ve been or something you’ve done – make sure you don’t use too plain words.

For example, if someone asks about your holiday in Italy, don’t reply with “yes, it was really good!”. As much as it was ‘good’ using more descriptive words like ‘amazing’ or ‘marvellous’ evokes more excitement in the other person and allows them to want to probe further. It indicates that there is more to this story – the person now wants to know why it’s so amazing. ‘Good’ indicates it’s alright and nothing special – and who wants to know more about something that doesn’t sound all that exciting?!

Using more vivid and descriptive words can actually have an added benefit because you are forced to give more descriptions to match the expectations you’ve set up. Practising this will actually help your story-telling abilities in the long term so keep in mind lots of great descriptive words when speaking to people.

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4. Don’t Try To Control The Conversation

The need to control a conversation can be the downfall of many. The workplace can create many discussions – a meeting to talk about new ideas or maybe you’re having a debate with someone who has differing opinions to you.

The problem with trying to control a conversation is that we can get very emotionally invested and it often blinds us to the fact that we’re supposed to be having a two-way conversation. If you’re talking about something you’re passionate about, then don’t get personal with the other person – it’s not a competition or a win-lose situation. Don’t focus too much on the differences but instead find commonalities in both arguments.

Create segways not dead ends. Don’t respond with “I disagree” or “that’s ridiculous” because this shuts down your ability to see their point of view even of you really don’t agree. Instead, say “Well, what about this…” and give alternatives that open up airways for them to start talking.

Respect the other person and don’t make them feel bad about their belief. Doing this makes you come across as much more likeable in the long-run and doesn’t compromise your thoughts and beliefs. We all agree none of us like to feel under-minded especially about something we believe in and by using this tactic the person is more likely to reciprocate the respect.

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5. Demonstrate Empathy

It’s important to think about how we come across to others when we speak. Being sincere, for example, can sometimes come across as being impolite or offensive to someone. Be aware of the way in which others can interpret what you’re saying and by this I mean demonstrate a level of empathy.

Try to be understanding of others’ situations or experiences and take this into account when speaking to someone. People are far more likely to feel a connection to you and form longer and in depth conversations which will go towards developing your communication skills further.

Don’t make the conversation all about you either. It’s very easy to hop on the bandwagon when a particular topic comes up because you’re so excited that you have a topic to talk about. For example, if someone mentions they visited China, don’t immediately rush into a huge story about the time you went to China two years ago.

By doing this, you’ve now dominated their own conversation starter and taken away their chance to talk about what they wanted to say in the first place! Think about the other person when you talk – most of the time the person you talk to will follow suit and this can be the start of a beautiful conversation!

Featured photo credit: unsplash.com via pexels.com

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Jenny Marchal

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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