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10 Most Common Mistakes in a Conversation

10 Most Common Mistakes in a Conversation

“No man is an island.”

Indeed, people are relationship-driven creatures. We are present in this world in order to relate to others and establish a solid community. It goes without saying that we need to communicate with each other in order to fulfill this purpose, though.

It is our responsibility to engage our colleagues in a nourishing and productive conversation. Through good communication, romantic relationships, business partnerships and even product selling have all been implemented. Good communication skills are the foundation of a long-lasting relationship. How can you develop them? You can start by omitting these ten most common mistakes in a conversation from your communication bank:

1. Do you speak quickly?

You’re in a brand new situation with a person you’ve just met, so it’s understandable that you became nervous. Since you didn’t have enough time to compose yourself, you blabbered and spoke too much and too fast. Because of this, the person you’re talking to wasn’t able to understand any word you’ve said.

Solution: Nervousness brings about the common mistakes in a conversation, so to combat this, just breathe deeply and smile. Assume that the person you’re talking to is interested in what you have to say. Put some pauses in your statements.

2. Do you ask too many questions?

The conversation sounds like a police interrogation with you asking too many questions and your partner scrambles to answer all of them. As a result, connection is made and no relationship is built.

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Solution: Follow this structure:

a. Ask a general question.

b. Consider his answer.

c. Give feedback about his answer and then answer the question you’ve asked.

d. Wait for him to respond. If he replies with a question, good. If he replies with a statement, repeat what he said and wait for him to elaborate.

3. Are your statements scripted?

You’re going to make a sale, so you memorized your company’s sales script, even though your conversation partner isn’t really reacting based on what you’ve memorized. Confusion arises.

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Solution: Focus on building trust first. You can never seal a deal if your prospect doesn’t really trust you.

4. Do you hog the spotlight?

You walk way too much: about yourself, your job, your dreams and frustrations. Pretty soon, the person you’re talking too feels like he just attended a whole-day seminar about you.

Solution: Ask for your partner’s opinion.

– “My favorite topic is about personal finance. How about you?”

5. Is your objective missing?

You discuss bland topics and end the conversation with no real outcome. Were you supposed to build trust? Preempt a sale? Invite a prospect? No-one knows!

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Solution: Adult communication isn’t superficial—it exists to fulfill a purpose. What type of purpose? Define this first before entering a conversation.

6. Do you have to be right all the time?

Every conversation seems like a battlefield to you. You have to make everyone agree with what you have to say, so you never back down. You’re always right, right?

Solution: Accept the fact that everyone is entitled to his own opinions. You don’t need to force them into agreeing with you—they’ll just choose to walk away from you instead. Arrogance causes some of these common mistakes in a conversation to happen. Stay humble.

7. Do you talk about awkward topics with a person you barely know?

“Hey, I just met you, but listen to me talk about my past relationships, my nagging digestive problems and my balding hair.”

Solution: Stay away from topics involving religion, sex, politics and negativity, especially when you’ve just become acquainted with someone. Focus on safe topics such as hobbies, common interests and the topic of the conference you’re in

8. Are you really listening?

You’re really just waiting for the other person to stop talking so that you can get your turn. Ha, you’re going to wow them with your speaking skills—who cares what they say?

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Solution: Put your pride on hold and really hear what your talking partner is telling you. Learn to read between the lines. Observe his body language. Avoid asking “yes or no” questions and probe deeper instead. You’re there to listen, not to merely hear.

9. Are you rude to the person you’re talking to?

You think you’re better than your talking partner so you don’t think about respecting their opinions. Sure, you use polite language and you mind your manners, but your words offend and your attitude challenges them.

Solution: How you communicate is better than what you communicate. Before you aim to communicate, aim to respect first.

10. Is your body language driving them away?

You would like to start communicating with people but no one seems to want to talk to you. Why? Your arms are crossed, you’re slouching and your eyebrows are furrowed—that’s why.

Solution: Relax.Communication is all about openness and community. Look at people in the eye. Smile more. Stand up straight. You got this.

More by this author

Lianne Martha Maiquez Laroya

Lianne is a licensed financial advisor, Registered Financial Planner, entrepreneur and book author.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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