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Don’t Let These 4 Habits Ruin Your Conversations

Don’t Let These 4 Habits Ruin Your Conversations
Bad Habits Can Ruin Conversations
    Bad Habits Can Ruin Conversations

    Why didn’t he call me back?  Why didn’t she laugh at my joke?  Why don’t they want to hang out again?

    Do you ever get the feeling that maybe something you did or said sabotaged your conversation (or worse, your relationship!?).

    In a perfect world, we could all take the Conversation Skills Assessment Aggregator 2000 and it would spit out a printed analysis of our entire communication profile.  It would detail our every strength and weakness, our every good and bad habit, and even our conversation style.  Maybe it would even make polite suggestions for you in a British accent.

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    Luckily, you have a good friend who always advises you on your conversation habits.  Oh, you don’t?  Neither do I.  If we are making a conversation mistake, most of us will never find out.  People will just choose not to talk to us as much.  You may not think anything of it.

    You may not have a friend or a machine that can politely make suggestions, but there are very common conversation mistakes you can look out for. With a little self reflection and self awareness, you can at least ensure that you are not damaging your conversations and relationships any further.

    Let’s look more closely at four of the bad habits:

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    1. Are You a Parrot?

    Do you find yourself just paraphrasing or repeating what the other person said?  If they say, “that was a cool movie!” do you say, “Yeah, that was a really cool movie!”?  Parrots act like they are having a conversation, but in reality, they rarely actually offer anything substantive.  Parrots rely on echoing and paraphrasing others.

    Suggestion:  If you find yourself just echoing what they are saying, try to offer substantive opinions or observations as well.

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    2. Are You an Energy Vampire?

    You may have fascinating stories and opinions to share, but if your energy cannot support the comments, people may find you hard to listen to.  Lacking energy or emotion when you talk can ruin your conversation faster than almost any other bad habit.   Good conversation is alive; good conversation flows with energy between the conversationalists.   If you are not adding to the flow of energy, then you are probably subtracting from it.

    Suggestions:  Think of your voice as a roller coaster ride for your listeners.  Are you creating a flat, boring ride?  Try to make your roller coaster ride enjoyable for your particular audience; add some vocal drops, some inclines, and vary your speed.  Vary your inflections and emphasize key words as well.

    Also, record your voice in private.  In fact, re-read this section in your normal voice and play it back.  If you have never recorded yourself before, you’ll be surprised by what you hear!

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    3. Are You a Predictable Talker?

    The Predictable Talker lives in the serious and literal world.  If they get up to use the restroom, and you ask them where they are going, they will always respond, “to the restroom.”  Everything they say is predictable; they’ll never surprise you with something unexpected.  In contrast, a Playful Talker may respond to that question with a number of unpredictable playful responses.  For example, “I thought I’d leave you with the bill,” or “I’m going to pickup that girl,” or “I’m trying to escape.”  The best conversation is playful and unpredictable; Predictable Talkers have trouble playing!

    Suggestion:  Train your mind to start considering the unexpected responses.  Next time someone asks you a question or makes a comment, mentally think about what response would be unexpected or unpredictable (within reason!).  Once in a while, try one of these unexpected comments and see how you do.  You may surprise yourself.

    4. Are You a Conversation Narcissist?

    Conversation Narcissists love nothing more than to talk about themselves.  The only reason they ask the other person a question like, “How was your weekend?” is so they can circle it back around to them again, “that’s nice…let me tell you about what happened to me…” They rarely inquire seriously about the other person or ask follow up questions.

    Suggestion:  This is easy to fix, be genuinely interested in the other person.  When someone tells you something, keep the focus on them, ask follow up questions, recall previous comments the person said, etc.

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2018

    7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

    7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

    When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

    You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

    1. Connecting them with each other

    Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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    It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

    2. Connect with their emotions

    Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

    For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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    3. Keep going back to the beginning

    Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

    On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

    4. Link to your audience’s motivation

    After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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    Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

    5. Entertain them

    While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

    Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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    6. Appeal to loyalty

    Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

    In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

    7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

    Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

    Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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