I think we can all agree that one of the most important skills in life is our communication with others.
Our ability to spread a message and form relationships with people is a crucial aspect of being successful and fulfilled.
Yet, in schools, we’re never taught how to communicate effectively. We’re simply thrown into a schoolyard and expected to pick it up ourselves.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
There are plenty of simple conversational tricks and strategies we all can benefit from.
Here are 10 of them. While they may be hard to adopt at first, with enough practice, you’ll begin to do them naturally.
1) Give others power
Let people know that you’re not trying to dominate them or control them. It makes them feel more comfortable and trusting of you.
Phrases to achieve this include “only if you want to”, or “It’s up to you”.
Also, ask meaningful questions about the other party’s life, ideas and progress. Talking about yourself actually triggers a pleasure sensation in the brain, so when someone starts talking about themselves, they immediately feel better about the conversation.
2) Ask for more than you want
You can get a better much result in any negotiation if you engage in a simple but powerful rule: Ask for more than you expect to get. This is a critical principle because it creates an environment in which they’ll believe they will have won by bringing you down. It also gives you more negotiating room to get what you really want.
3) Stop talking
Instead of trying to fill empty space in the conversation with more sentences, or filler words like “um” and “uh”, try to simply stop talking. It allows them to speak more and your sentences will be more thought out and clear.
4) Use simple words
Listen to any powerful conversationalist and chances are, they won’t use too many complicated words. Long, complicated words might confuse your audience and make you look like you’re showing off. As the great Albert Einstein said:
“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”
5) Use varied, dynamic intonation
This can take some time to get right, but it’s well worth the practice. Any repetitive patterns of intonation instantly diminish the power of a conversation.
If you consistently speak in a low monotone with no differentiation, you’ll seem dull and uninteresting. If you speak consistently with an upward inflection, you’ll seem immature or foolish. Use varied tones and inflections to add a layer to your emotional expression. You can practice this by recording yourself and trying different types of inflections.
6) Never argue directly
Saying things like “that’s wrong or “I disagree” make you seem like an antagonist. Instead, use phrases like “I can see your point, but there’s another perspective here or “I once read something that suggests otherwise. It allows you to express your opinion but in a way that deflects the direct counterpoint to another source.
7) Avoid buzzwords, cliches and euphemisms
These types of words and phrases don’t carry meaning by themselves. Overtime, they can make you look deceptive and manipulative. Instead, speak your thoughts as clearly and directly as possible.
8) Have something worth saying
Not every thought that enters your head is a valuable contribution to a conversation, and not every piece of small-talk is worth going through. If you don’t have anything meaningful to say, don’t worry – just wait until you do.
9) Soften critiques with the sandwich method
When you need to critique someone, start with a compliment, then mention your critique, then end on a positive note. This can help soften the blow.
10) Ask open-ended questions
For example, ask, “What made you decide to pursue nursing?” Or, “How did you like living in Hawaii?” These questions really encourage another person to offer information about their story and they invite them to share their opinion.
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