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14 Tricks To Better Conversations

14 Tricks To Better Conversations

Do you think there may be room for improvement in your conversational skills? Perhaps you could use some new conversation starters or something to fill those awkward silences with? Here, chatting is made easy with Jonathan Roseland of Limitless Mindset’s 14 conversation tips:

Being a great conversationalist is a combination of mindset and methods. Luckily though, you can fake it till you make it. Here I will cover how you can ‘steal’ the conversation while appearing magnanimous, a sweet body language trick, applying economics concepts to increase the attention people show you and my favourite ‘pick up line’ to starting a conversation.

Start Conversations with a Question

You want to begin your conversation with a bang (first impressions matter!) so if possible start with an open ended question that is relevant to the environment that will engage your new friends.

The best ‘pick up line’ to begin an interesting conversation

Line: Pardon me. Do you mind if I get your opinion on something…?
Follow this up with an engaging question, here’s a few I like:

• Can you recommend any unique cocktails here?
• Do you know this town well? Can you recommend a restaurant/bar, etc?
• Where did you buy that clothing item/accessory/cell phone?
• What do you think of this event?

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Applying Relational Economics to Conversation

This is a very important concept to grasp so please pay attention. Imagine that your relationship is like a bank, you can make emotional withdrawals and emotional deposits to this bank. If the balance gets too low, then the relationship is over or becomes very unpleasant. This applies to any relationship, be it your mom or the person you just met at the bar. Here’s some examples in a conversational context.

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 22.47.48.png

    A brand new conversation is starting basically at very close to a zero balance, if you make too many withdrawals you’re done!

    Conversational-Relational Supply and Demand Arbitrage

    Continuing the metaphor of our relationships being a bank, we want to practice a little supply and demand arbitrage to make people more interested in us. Here’s how this is done: make a large emotional deposit. Then make a withdrawal, if possible use humor. What you are doing is giving them an emotional high associated with you and then taking it away. True to human form we want what’s been taken away from us even more. Here’s an example of how this could be done.

    Jonathan: Chris I’m really impressed with how you’ve been able to take something that you are passionate about and make a living helping people. What was it that inspired you to first try this?

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    Chris: Thanks Jonathan! What inspired me was…
    Jonathan: You are going about your marketing all wrong. You aren’t going to meet your goals if you keep doing things that way. I have marketing firm and I’ve produced some really spectacular results for clients in similar businesses to yours. I think I have some ideas that could help.

    Don’t go to overboard with this method though! Too much of an emotional rollercoaster will not make for good relationships.

    Body Language Mirroring

    This is the practice of copying the gestures and posture of the person you are chatting with. Are their legs crossed? Cross yours. Are their hands on the table? Put your hands on the table. Fairly simple. Timing is the key to maximizing the effectiveness of this technique. Wait till they mention:

    • Something that you find interesting
    • Something that they think you will find interesting
    • Something they are proud of

    Then mirror them. This subconsciously communicates that you empathize with the way they feel about whatever topic. A little while later break the mirroring, on a subconscious level they will wonder if they said something wrong and it will increase their interest level in you. Then mirror them again at a high point in the conversation.

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    How to Talk about Yourself and NOT be Boring

    You may be an absolutely fascinating person but the majority of people just don’t want to hear you talking about yourself. As you can imagine as a continuation of the economics metaphor, if you make a large emotional deposit first they will pay a whole lot more attention and be more interested in what you have to say about yourself. Alternate between making emotional deposits but keep talking how interesting you are and what you do.

    Practice Topic Depth Escalation

    It’s well said that small minds talk about people, moderate minds talk about events and great minds talk about ideas. It’s very rare that you can begin a conversation by diving into deep conceptual territory. So you want to start with small talk and humorous banter, then ask for people’s opinions on an event that occurred recently, then transition into talking about ideas surrounding the event. Example:

    Conversation Intro: Hey how has your day been?
    Event: Are you and Tracy doing anything special for valentine’s day?
    Idea: I saw this blog on the internet recently about the how our modern day concept of love is completely skewed from the traditional definition of love which is that of ongoing acts of sacrifice to something great than oneself.

    If you want to do a controversial issue idea, you can always ask “How would you respond to people who say…?” This way, you haven’t directly challenged someone but you have introduced another element into the conversation.

    Ask them to be Interesting

    Pretty much everyone is interesting in their own way and they probably don’t get to share it nearly as much as they would like to. So give them the opportunity and they will think the world of you. Here’s the simple line I like to use: So tell me something interesting about yourself, Chris?
    This is a great line that makes you seem charismatic as well as lets you know what they find interesting, which will surely make for good conversation.

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    How to ask people what they do

    You will come across as more interesting if you ask the question this way.
    So how do you spend your time when you aren’t __________________?
    The blank should be something relevant to context, environment or something that you know about them. Examples:
    So how do you spend your time when you aren’t writing fascinating blog posts?
    So how do you spend your time when you aren’t on Facebook?
    So how do you spend your time when you aren’t hanging out with beautiful women?
    So how do you spend your time when you aren’t at the gym?

    Demonstrate Your Listening Skills

    If you’re going to focus one thing to make you a better conversationalist, I would say to improve your listening skills. This will be another blog subject all together. When they are talking about a subject they find interesting, follow up with this question:
    “That’s interesting … say more about that…”
    Also ask probing questions such as:
    So what influenced you to make that decision?

    Speaking Pace

    In general, fast paced speech is a sign of nervousness and slow paced speech is a sign of confidence. So most of the time I go with a slower pace but if I’m talking with someone who has a noticeably fast pace, then I will mirror them and go fast.

    Magnanimous Conversation Stealing

    This has probably happened to you before: you are discussing something, someone else jumps in and makes the topic you are discussing all about them. This is called conversation stealing and it’s annoying, if you do it wrong. The correct way to do it is to make an emotional deposit before the steal and then make an emotional deposit at the end of the steal. That way you are keeping the attention high throughout and you don’t look like a jerk for stealing the conversation. Example:
    Chris: So my kid is just doing awesome at football practice.
    Me: That’s great. I definitely know where he gets his work ethic from! My kid has just got his black belt in Karate and is traveling to Korea for a student exchange program. Since you’ve traveled abroad extensively in Asia, can you give me some suggestions to give to him?
    As you can see here, I made an emotional deposit first by complimenting Chris and his kid, I stole the conversation and then I linked it right back to him and made another emotional deposit.

    Compliment Strategically

    Compliments are very powerful tool when used correctly, the right way is to compliment people on the things they are proud of. For example:
    • if a person is in great shape and obviously spends a lot of time in the gym, compliment them on their work ethic and commitment to taking care of themselves.
    • If someone is particularly successful in their career or business, compliment them on their intelligence, creativity and insights to capitalize on opportunity.
    • If someone is particularly well dressed, compliment them on their good taste.
    What you don’t want to do is compliment people on things that they were born with or did not have to work for. For example:
    • Don’t tell a gorgeous young girl that she is beautiful, she already knows this well and probably hasn’t worked at all for it.
    However there are situations where people are proud or have a sense of entitlement that you can complement if you want to stroke their ego. For example:
    • I have a very distinctive last name, when people tell me that they like it they just made an emotional deposit with me of about $100,000!

    Merge Groups

    If you are at a party or social event, there will be multiple groups of people standing around chatting. Over the course of the event you will migrate between different groups. As you see one of your previous groups in the physical proximity to your current group, invite them to join together. Make a joke about this if appropriate:
    I have some more friends over here to introduce you all to, can I arrange to get a merger & acquisition of our groups?

    You are going to be excellent at remembering names, since you are going to read our article How to Remember Names, you will know the names of everyone in each group and can introduce everyone. This makes you look like a true social Rockstar and sets you up as the dominant leader of both groups. Actually being able to pull this off will increase your social proof by about a 10,000%.

    14 Methods and Mindset Tricks To Make You A More Interesting Conversationalist | Limitless Mindset

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    Siobhan Harmer

    Siobhan is a passionate writer sharing about motivation and happiness tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on December 4, 2020

    How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

    How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

    We all crave constructive feedback. We want to know not just what we’re doing well but also what we could be doing better.

    However, giving and getting constructive feedback isn’t just some feel-good exercise. In the workplace, it’s part and parcel of how companies grow.

    Let’s take a closer look.

    Why Constructive Feedback Is Critical

    A culture of feedback benefits individuals on a team and the team itself. Constructive feedback has the following effects:

    Builds Workers’ Skills

    Think about the last time you made a mistake. Did you come away from it feeling attacked—a key marker of destructive feedback—or did you feel like you learned something new?

    Every time a team member learns something, they become more valuable to the business. The range of tasks they can tackle increases. Over time, they make fewer mistakes, require less supervision, and become more willing to ask for help.

    Boosts Employee Loyalty

    Constructive feedback is a two-way street. Employees want to receive it, but they also want the feedback they give to be taken seriously.

    If employees see their constructive feedback ignored, they may take it to mean they aren’t a valued part of the team. Nine in ten employees say they’d be more likely to stick with a company that takes and acts on their feedback.[1]

    Strengthens Team Bonds

    Without trust, teams cannot function. Constructive feedback builds trust because it shows that the giver of the feedback cares about the success of the recipient.

    However, for constructive feedback to work its magic, both sides have to assume good intentions. Those giving the feedback must genuinely want to help, and those getting it has to assume that the goal is to build them up rather than to tear them down.

    Promotes Mentorship

    There’s nothing wrong with a single round of constructive feedback. But when it really makes a difference is when it’s repeated—continuous, constructive feedback is the bread and butter of mentorship.

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    Be the change you want to see on your team. Give constructive feedback often and authentically, and others will naturally start to see you as a mentor.

    Clearly, constructive feedback is something most teams could use more of. But how do you actually give it?

    How to Give Constructive Feedback

    Giving constructive feedback is tricky. Get it wrong, and your message might fall on deaf ears. Get it really wrong, and you could sow distrust or create tension across the entire team.

    Here are ways to give constructive feedback properly:

    1. Listen First

    Often, what you perceive as a mistake is a decision someone made for a good reason. Listening is the key to effective communication.

    Seek to understand: how did the other person arrive at her choice or action?

    You could say:

    • “Help me understand your thought process.”
    • “What led you to take that step?”
    • “What’s your perspective?”

    2. Lead With a Compliment

    In school, you might have heard it called the “sandwich method”: Before (and ideally, after) giving difficult feedback, share a compliment. That signals to the recipient that you value their work.

    You could say:

    • “Great design. Can we see it with a different font?”
    • “Good thinking. What if we tried this?”

    3. Address the Wider Team

    Sometimes, constructive feedback is best given indirectly. If your comment could benefit others on the team, or if the person whom you’re really speaking to might take it the wrong way, try communicating your feedback in a group setting.

    You could say:

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    • “Let’s think through this together.”
    • “I want everyone to see . . .”

    4. Ask How You Can Help

    When you’re on a team, you’re all in it together. When a mistake happens, you have to realize that everyone—not just the person who made it—has a role in fixing it. Give constructive feedback in a way that recognizes this dynamic.

    You could say:

    • “What can I do to support you?”
    • “How can I make your life easier?
    • “Is there something I could do better?”

    5. Give Examples

    To be useful, constructive feedback needs to be concrete. Illustrate your advice by pointing to an ideal.

    What should the end result look like? Who has the process down pat?

    You could say:

    • “I wanted to show you . . .”
    • “This is what I’d like yours to look like.”
    • “This is a perfect example.”
    • “My ideal is . . .”

    6. Be Empathetic

    Even when there’s trust in a team, mistakes can be embarrassing. Lessons can be hard to swallow. Constructive feedback is more likely to be taken to heart when it’s accompanied by empathy.

    You could say:

    • “I know it’s hard to hear.”
    • “I understand.”
    • “I’m sorry.”

    7. Smile

    Management consultancies like Credera teach that communication is a combination of the content, delivery, and presentation.[2] When giving constructive feedback, make sure your body language is as positive as your message. Your smile is one of your best tools for getting constructive feedback to connect.

    8. Be Grateful

    When you’re frustrated about a mistake, it can be tough to see the silver lining. But you don’t have to look that hard. Every constructive feedback session is a chance for the team to get better and grow closer.

    You could say:

    • “I’m glad you brought this up.”
    • “We all learned an important lesson.”
    • “I love improving as a team.”

    9. Avoid Accusations

    Giving tough feedback without losing your cool is one of the toughest parts of working with others. Great leaders and project managers get upset at the mistake, not the person who made it.[3]

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    You could say:

    • “We all make mistakes.”
    • “I know you did your best.”
    • “I don’t hold it against you.”

    10. Take Responsibility

    More often than not, mistakes are made because of miscommunications Recognize your own role in them.

    Could you have been clearer in your directions? Did you set the other person up for success?

    You could say:

    • “I should have . . .”
    • “Next time, I’ll . . .”

    11. Time it Right

    Constructive feedback shouldn’t catch people off guard. Don’t give it while everyone is packing up to leave work. Don’t interrupt a good lunch conversation.

    If in doubt, ask the person to whom you’re giving feedback to schedule the session themselves. Encourage them to choose a time when they’ll be able to focus on the conversation rather than their next task.

    12. Use Their Name

    When you hear your name, your ears naturally perk up. Use that when giving constructive feedback. Just remember that constructive feedback should be personalized, not personal.

    You could say:

    • “Bob, I wanted to chat through . . .”
    • “Does that make sense, Jesse?”

    13. Suggest, Don’t Order

    When you give constructive feedback, it’s important not to be adversarial. The very act of giving feedback recognizes that the person who made the mistake had a choice—and when the situation comes up again, they’ll be able to choose differently.

    You could say:

    • “Next time, I suggest . . .”
    • “Try it this way.”
    • “Are you on board with that?”

    14. Be Brief

    Even when given empathetically, constructive feedback can be uncomfortable to receive. Get your message across, make sure there are no hard feelings, and move on.

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    One exception? If the feedback isn’t understood, make clear that you have plenty of time for questions. Rushing through what’s clearly an open conversation is disrespectful and discouraging.

    15. Follow Up

    Not all lessons are learned immediately. After giving a member of your team constructive feedback, follow it up with an email. Make sure you’re just as respectful and helpful in your written feedback as you are on your verbal communication.

    You could say:

    • “I wanted to recap . . .”
    • “Thanks for chatting with me about . . .”
    • “Did that make sense?”

    16. Expect Improvement

    Although you should always deliver constructive feedback in a supportive manner, you should also expect to see it implemented. If it’s a long-term issue, set milestones.

    By what date would you like to see what sort of improvement? How will you measure that improvement?

    You could say:

    • “I’d like to see you . . .”
    • “Let’s check back in after . . .”
    • “I’m expecting you to . . .”
    • “Let’s make a dent in that by . . .”

    17. Give Second Chances

    Giving feedback, no matter how constructive, is a waste of time if you don’t provide an opportunity to implement it. Don’t set up a “gotcha” moment, but do tap the recipient of your feedback next time a similar task comes up.

    You could say:

    • “I know you’ll rock it next time.”
    • “I’d love to see you try again.”
    • “Let’s give it another go.”

    Final Thoughts

    Constructive feedback is not an easy nut to crack. If you don’t give it well, then maybe it’s time to get some. Never be afraid to ask.

    More on Constructive Feedback

    Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

    Reference

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