A major problem that’s sweeping society is engaging in simple conversation. Most people aren’t given any proper training in this area and for those inexperienced, this could be a very frightening experience. You can find conversations either bothersome or grow tired of the dull ones you have.
And yet, you can’t help but want to be a skilled conversationalist who engages with others and mark them with your charms. But as simple as it seems to speak to another person, engaging in a conversation could give you a small case of social anxiety disorder.
Here’s a fun fact : ‘Social Anxiety is the 3rd most common fear in our society’
Shocking? Probably not. It’s like getting that uncomfortable feeling when you’re walking across the hallway from someone you don’t want to talk to but have to for social politeness. I had dozens of times where I wanted to walk away to avoid interaction, but continued forward to avoid being rude. Though it’s easier speaking to someone online rather than in person, social interactions are still necessary for our lives.
So what is it about approaching another human being that gets you nervous? For one, our behavior and feelings are influenced by our pre-assumptions. Bad experiences we had as children could be a source to why we’re scared of saying, “hi” to strangers. Children who normally had a hard time making friends spent most of their time alone developing anti-social behaviors.
During my early childhood, eye contact was a major fear I had to overcome because my breathing pattern would rise and I occasionally experienced an outer body experience. But luckily I forced myself to get out of that habit.
But whether you’re afraid of being socially rejected, or fear another person’s disapproval, it boils down to one thing. Which is a deep chronic fear of allowing someone to destroy your self-esteem after lowering your vulnerabilities? You become uncomfortable interacting with someone because you’re concerned on how they’re going to judge you.
Social Anxiety disorder makes interacting with your boss or any authority figure more difficult than it should be. There’s a natural fear that people get from authority figures because of their power and this creates fear in proper communication.
When you’re struggling on what to say to someone, the last thing you want is for them to think you’re an idiot, it’s best to forget about their opinions and say what’s on your mind without any filter.
If you want to kick your social anxiety in the butt and become a people magnet:
Below are 12 simple tips to master the art of conversation :
- Take an interest in reading interesting articles
A major issue many people have with conversation is simply coming up with interesting topics. It’s not like you could continue talking about the weather or what groceries you bought the other day.
Even though some people can discuss about TV shows or the News, not everyone is the same. I don’t mind speaking about recent News events, but what I really love talking about are the stuff I read online.
What makes reading articles fun and twisting compared to watching television is that it makes you more interesting to the average person. There will always be more people who prefer watching videos instead of reading articles online.
So if you read any article on the internet, it puts you ahead of those crowds conversation wise. It makes you a source of entertainment because you’ll have knowledge they won’t have. Not everyone likes reading and as a result, miss out on a lot of great content. That’s where you come in and share the knowledge you accumulated.
- Ask questions and dig into the other person’s head
What’s the point of hearing someone speak to you if you don’t dig deeper into their words. Become a ‘reporter’ and get nosy about their personal life. If there’s a thing people love doing, it’s carelessly talking about themselves.
Asking questions prolong the conversation and gives you a better idea of the person you’re speaking to. To avoid playing 20 questions, be sure to add your own life narrative into the conversation from time to time. But if you really want to amaze someone, ask questions that relates to something they previously said.
- Take advantage when you find a common ground
As you’re listening to someone explaining about their hobbies and interests, take charge when you hear something you like. If they mention how they love to ride on elephant and for strange reasons, you do too, be quick to mention that. This furthers the conversation and give the person the belief you both have related interests. This naturally makes them more comfortable around you to either become your friend or lover.
- Challenge them (But in a playful way)
There’s nothing wrong with agreeing with someone if you think what they said is true. However, if you’re just bobbing your head to everything they say, it doesn’t create a natural feel in the conversation. The main reason people do this is to avoid conflict. After all, why disagree with someone and possibly increase the chance of them hating you.
A common belief we have is that people don’t like to be disagreed with and by telling someone they’re wrong is a clear sign of threatening their beliefs. But that’s not what you’re doing (at least most of the time). Let’s say someone told you they enjoyed eating peanut butter and bananas instead of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Don’t agree that it tastes good if you think it’s weird or nasty. But don’t tell them they’re a disgusting human being who doesn’t know good taste if it bit them. Instead, tell them in a playful tone that it’s weird a combination, but you don’t mind it. A great thing about disagreeing with someone is that they won’t mind it so long as you happily accept their opinion.
You shouldn’t worry about your words offending them. It’s your tone that determines the message you’re trying to convey. Give someone a nasty and offending tone about anything (even if you’re saying, “you look nice”) and you’ll see them quickly raising their defenses. Challenge someone’s opinions the right way to balance the conversation and give you both a comfortable position.
- Show them a positive behavior
No one likes a person who’s toxic. We’re all dealing with problems and unnecessarily sharing them with others is hardly recommended. Sure, vent and release your anger to those who understand you and don’t mind. But don’t reveal your violent and negative behaviors to anyone despite what your emotions tell you.
Despite what people say, not everyone likes to be burdened with other people problems unless you reached that level of relationships with them. I have several friends, but there’s only 1 or 2 who I could really tell my problems to. If you’re feeling down, avoid speaking to someone. Instead, spend time alone to recollect your thoughts, watch funny videos, or speak to someone until your heart starts to ease itself.
- Prevent yourself from giving 1 (or 2) word answers
It’s already irritating dealing with someone who gives you a one word text message. So don’t give someone the pleasure of a one word response that doesn’t take the conversation anywhere. This doesn’t only apply to face to face conversations either.
This heavily goes to on how we communicate on the phone or computer. A balance has to be created on both sides. If one person writes a 7 – 10 word text message, the other party should provide the same length. For instance, this is how a text conversation should appear:
“Lol. Did you see that clown eating the pineapple at the mall? Talk about epic.”
“I know right! I actually thought about doing the same thing. I just didn’t have a pineapple.”
This is a balanced text message. It should rarely be like this:
“I was looking through my DVD collection and I noticed there was a lot of old movies I haven’t seen in like forever. I was thinking about watching The Mummy, but I was also thinking about watching something scary. Have any recommendations?”
When someone gives you a long explanation to why kittens are awesome, don’t simply nod your head like a bobble head. Tell them your thoughts and how their words triggered your emotions. If you found nothing interesting in what they said, simply acknowledge it with a few words and move to the next topic that comes to mind. Maybe you’d like to tell them what animal excites you the most.
- Understand body language
Your words aren’t the only factors registering in people brains. Every hand gesture, blink, and yawn you make is being noticed by someone either consciously or subconsciously. Each action you take gives them the impression to how comfortable and relaxed you are that moment.
And if you’re speaking to someone for the first time, it’s easy to give someone the bad impression by using a collection of bad body languages. (It’s hard explaining your sanity when your eye keeps twitching at them.) Examples would be constantly breaking eye contact, turning your bodies away from them, or even crossing your arms.
Become conscious of your body natural movements during a conversation. Notice your posture and stand tall with your shoulders back. Keep solid eye contact with the other person and have a smooth natural tone. You may not be able to continuously keep watch of your body language, but the longer you practice at being aware of it, the easier it is to master.
- Become a master at listening (even if you aren’t listening)
I tend to have a little ADHD, so when someone speaks to me, chances are I might end up imagining myself looking for buried treasure at some point. But not everyone is like me, and can remain focused during a conversation.
What I learned was that whether we’re paying attention or not, our brains are still soaking in whatever the other person is saying. It’s picking up the small words and sentences that stick out to us. So if you find yourself mindlessly thinking about something else as someone speaks to you, search for certain sentences they said and quickly give your inputs. This makes the other person believe you actually paid attention to them the entire time.
However, as effective as that technique is, it still doesn’t fix the active listening process. Relax your mind and entirely focus on what he or she is saying. Don’t allow your distractions to hit you and remember everything that brightens their face and trigger their emotions That way, you’ll not only hear their words, but their tone and body language too.
- Repeat what someone says to you (like a parrot)
Similar to the techniques above, this is throwing back certain words someone said to you. This proves you’re actively engaging with them and attempting to understand them better. A rule of thumb my English teacher said was to always put a little bit of the question into our answer to clarify we know what we’re talking about. Basically, this is just a method to indicate you remember the other person’s words. For example, suppose someone said
“I love cats because they’re so independent and can take care of themselves.”
This will be when you said,
“I don’t mind cats, but I’ve always been more of a dog person.”
Another technique to apply is conjuring up a previous topic they mentioned earlier in the conversation. For example you could say,
“I remember you said you liked Star Wars. Did you see the latest movie?”
This normally impress someone because it shows you paid attention to their interests.
When replying back to someone, include a little bit of what they previously said to indicate you’ve been paying attention. Sometimes people will suspect if you’re still engaged in the conversation, and this will save you from entering that awkward conversation. The goal will be the gain the other person’s trust and bring them closer to you.
- Say what you think (and remove any filter!)
What’s the point of speaking to someone if you’re just going to give political answers. Sure, I’m not saying you have to tell someone a bunch of negative things. But don’t give the usual,”I’m fine,” “I’m good,” answers. These are genetic responses that rarely lead anywhere in growth or personal development.
That’s the great thing about creating chemistry with someone. There’s going to be minor areas you disagree in, but chances are there’s a mountain of similarities you two share. If you’re not interested in the other person, give boring answers to escape the conversation and go about your day.
But if you really like them, don’t be afraid to share your honest opinions. People are smarter than we give credit for and their mind depicts the type of person we are depending on our honesty.
- Try to speak slower
Even now, I tend to speak faster than I could think and that isn’t a good thing either. Speaking fast could indicate you’re nervous or too excited for someone to keep up with. Human minds are lazy and if you’re babbling words faster than they could consciously grasp, chances are they’ll simply ignore whatever you tell them.
There is strong evidence that smart people speak faster, but it still give people the impression that they have low confidence. A problem I usually have when speaking fast is that I mix up my words, ruining my diction altogether. So to control that unsteady behavior, become consciously aware of your speaking pattern.
Becoming conscious in your speaking patterns means if you find yourself saying “um,” or “like” too much, you need to slow down. Don’t just talk to talk. Create meaning behind your words by thinking before you speak. This allows you to pay attention to what the other person is saying and avoid any miscommunications.
- Prevent those urges to interrupt someone
I know when someone is talking to me and I either disagree or get excited, it’s tempting to interrupt them and blabber away. But it’s annoying because we all know the feeling of someone doing it to us. You could be speaking to either your boss, a work colleague or friend and in mid-sentence, they interrupt you with what they have to say. Not only is it frustrating, but it disrupts our natural thought directions.
Prevent that reaction by keeping your mouth shut until the other person finish speaking. Become consciously aware of your next words despite how high your emotions get.
However, as crucial as this rule is, there are exceptions such as to ALMOST anything else. Especially if they continue blabbing away, switching from one subject to the other within seconds. Interrupting has to be done correctly and in precise timing for the conversation to head towards your direction.
With these tips in your arsenal, you will naturally attract more people.
Read more at : www.iandelacruz.ca
Author: Ian Dela Cruz
Mentor to High Performance Entrepreneurs| Speaker | Investor | Publisher & CEO of Tease Lifestyle Magazine