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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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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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