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If You Know These 6 Tricks, Everyone Likes Communicating With You

If You Know These 6 Tricks, Everyone Likes Communicating With You

How many times have you seen this scenario? You’re at a social gathering–say an office party–where people are just barely acquainted with each other. The conversations are a bit strained and are a commingling of “shop” talk, mindless chit-chat and awkward pauses. Your eyes scan the room, and you notice that Jeff from marketing keeps drawing small crowds of people to him. The people are all smiling and engaged, and no one leaves the group.

What’s Jeff’s secret? How does he do it? He’s not telling jokes or performing magic tricks; in fact, he really isn’t saying a whole lot, yet he’s been able to comfortably engage with everyone in the room.

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Good conversationalists have perfected their art

Some people are naturally blessed with a dynamic gift of gab and are able to talk to anyone about anything. Meanwhile, others struggle with simply engaging in small talk. What separates the two isn’t just a matter of affability. It’s more about their approaches to communication and their willingness to hone their conversational skills[1].

Being good at conversation is slightly different than being a good communicator. Communication is just one small component of the very delicate, dynamic and active dance that happens within every conversation.

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Here are 6 tips to help you become great at conversing

1. Seed the conversation

The concept of seeding a conversation[2] revolves around the idea of reaching outside of the topic of discussion and bringing in ideas that are thematically or philosophically related. It involves introducing and adding information and relating story excerpts from other domains that parallel the current topic. For example, if the topic is politics and the discussion turns to a particular candidate’s campaign strategy, you could introduce a relevant sports metaphor or relate it to an old war story illustrating a similar maneuver on the field of battle.

2. Know when (and when not) to interject personal experiences

Oftentimes, you’ll find yourself in a conversation with a person you may not know very well, and in an effort to establish common ground and appear relatable, you’ll begin trading stories with them. If they are talking about their dog that died, you might share the tragic tale of how you lost your gerbil in a big-wheel accident. But, while your intentions are simply to relate to the other person, this can come across as attention-seeking, or it can seem like you are trying to “one up” them, which is a major turn-off. Know when to share and when to simply let the moment belong to the other person.

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3. Be attuned to the silent conversation (a.k.a. body language)

Being attuned to the moment when the conversation has run its course or is starting to fade is one of the most important skills a masterful conversationalist must perfect. Notice when your audience is starting to drift or become distracted or disengaged, and understand that it may be the time to end the conversation, or at least move away from that particular topic. Non-verbal cues[3] communicate far more than what is being said.

4. Listen more than you speak

At the heart of being a good conversationalist is having exceptional listening skills. Listening is an action[4]. It requires focus, concentration and lots of energy. Listening involves more than just hearing what someone is saying. It also requires interpreting, hearing context and sub-context, and reading between the lines. Listening should be done with both the eyes and the ears. It is an intuitive, active process.

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5. Ask open-ended questions and give expanded answers.

Asking yes-or-no questions and/or giving yes-or-no answers are the ultimate show-stoppers. They kill the conversation, or at least stall it, and they cause that awkward silence where everyone is fishing for something to say. Being cognizant that everyone is not adept in conversation will help you work to provide expanded answers and ask open-ended questions. Giving the other person something to work with will help put at ease those who experience social tension.

6. Treat the conversation like a friendly tennis match

Do your part to keep the conversation going. One of the best ways to keep the conversational volley going is by showing emotion. The fact that we are truly engaged is demonstrated through our body language and facial expressions. Ensure that you are laughing at the appropriate places, and show sympathy, horror, or excitement as you actively listen. Your emotions and reactions should be genuine and appropriate for the tone and mood of the conversation. Save the theatrics for a different audience.

Conversations should arise organically – oversteering the conversation will shut it down quickly. Being affable, actively listening and carefully seeding the discussion will fuel the conversation and make you the talk of the party.

Featured photo credit: Linh Do via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Fast Company: 6 Habits of the Best Conversationalists
[2] Prezley: 21 Tips to Seed a Conversation
[3] Help Guide: Nonverbal communication
[4] Mind Tools: Active Listening

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Denise Hill

Denise shares about psychology and communication tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

Journal writing.

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Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

Consider this:

Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

Kickstart Journaling

How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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