The vast majority of people have poor communication skills.
Yes, even the dynamic extroverts who we all kill to emulate.
Regardless if you’re loud or quiet, you’re probably making the same mistakes. We all are. And it’s affecting your connection on levels you’ve probably never thought of before.
Based on my experience as a public speaking teacher and media trainer, I want to point out what I believe everyone is doing wrong socially, why it’s wrong, and how you can correct these mistakes.
They apply to just about every social situation in life — including in big meetings at work, in job interviews with your dream company, approaching strangers you find interesting and want to meet.
By becoming conscious of what you’re truly communicating, which often is not what we think, you can start to slowly change your approach and communication style to come off as more natural, more confident and grounded, and way more comfortable to be around.
Stop needing an outcome
There’s nothing worse than talking to someone who wants something from you but won’t admit it.
We often go to networking events with a goal of getting the magic number of business cards. We must hit our quota of at least 3 sales today. Men go out to bars looking to get phone numbers and if they don’t they’ve failed.
The person on the other end feels violated and used. We know these people want something from us because we sense their desperation and neediness, usually because they’re not listening or because they’re abnormally anxious. All they are thinking about is the achieving their goal.
Many times a need for an outcome is deeper than just getting 10 business cards. It’s about our self-worth and needing to be liked. If you’ve ever noticed someone who’s really anxious when meeting you, this is probably what’s going on.
As soon as you make it about an outcome, you can’t connect. The human element is gone and so is the fun.
Love uncertainty to death
We’re all worried about what we’re going to say next and god forbid, what happens if we run out of things to say. But why?
It’s the most stressful thing in the world to plan these things while trying to listen. You’re never present.
With each conversation there’s an opportunity to adopt the exact opposite mindset: not having an agenda, not having to plan, not having to control and just letting things unfold naturally.
Having no idea where conversation is going is a beautiful thing.
Think about it, you’ve just met a new person, you’re trying to figure them out, and it’s a story unfolding, with plot twists, character introductions, climaxes and everything.
The organic, free-flowing conversations are the ones we actually remember and enjoy. There’s no stress and it’s fun. It’s like we’re little kids again meeting someone for the first time.
Fall in love with not knowing what’s going to happen.
Stop talking to people like a TV News Reporter
The uptick is killing you. It’s when get towards the end of a sentence or question and you raiseyourvoiceupreallyhighandspeakreallyfast?
This is what reporters use at the end of their sentences to lead you into their next line.
But we’re not news reporters and it gets old very quickly in conversation. It signals neediness, that you’re needing them to stay right there with you, that you’re needing a reply from them to continue, rather than being grounded and confident in what you’re saying and just saying it in a normal voice.
The most confident voice you can use is the one you would use when you’re most relaxed. Like sitting around a campfire with your family. Or when you’re making jokes with your significnat other while having cereal and coffee on Saturday morning. That person is grounded and confident.
In those place, it’s not necessary to find out if people are ‘with you’ or not.
Stop trying to make people feel comfortable
We all burden ourselves with a responsibility that no one ever asked for in conversation: making the other person feel super comfortable around us.
To do this, we use strategies like saying “yea, yea, yea, or right, right, right, or uh huh, uh huh,” and we nod our heads up and down like a bobblehead.
These things are typically done while the other person is speaking so we’re constantly interrupting them, you know, just to show them we’re listening.
Like the uptick, this is needy behavior and it’s usually our own need to be liked that’s encouraging it.
I was the king at trying to make people comfortable. I nodded my head like a horse, and said ‘right’ more than Bob Barker ever did. I thought secretly it gave me more “CONTROL.”
It took me a long time to realize this, but it’s not your job to make someone feel comfortable when you’re talking to them. When you do this, what you’re really signaling to them is that they can’t handle the job themselves. Which is a massive sign of disrespect.
That doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly and respectful — you can be those things without resorting to babying them and spoon-feeding them feedback.
Do it through strong eye contact, being attentive, and not speaking until it’s your turn to speak.
Picture yourself in the room with the CEO of your company. He bring you in, sits you down, and starts talking and you start giving him the “yea, yea, yea, uh, uh, right, right. right’s.”
What is it that you’re communicating to him?
- You’re interrupting him which is disrespectful.
- You’re telling him that you are trying to make him feel comfortable, but did he ask for that? Maybe he’s already perfectly comfortable.
The other side of the scenario is: You’re in the room with the CEO and he’s speaking to you, explaining a new idea and asking for your advice. Instead of interrupting, you sit there, don’t nod your head and just listen, not reaction-less, but patient.
There are no annoying verbal affirmations from your side, your body language and eye contact is what communicates that.
Which has more power? Which makes the other person feel more comfortable?
No one cares about you
They don’t. Become more interested in the other person than you are in yourself and you’ll stand out. That’s it.
When you’re meeting someone for the first time, the vibe should be casual, fun, and non-pressuring. What’s the state that achieves all of these emotions? Boredom.
This is an idea I read about from author and men’s dating coach, Chris Bale, and it’s genius.
When you’re bored, you’re not anxious, you’re not desperate or needy, actually the furthest thing from it.
The only objective you have when you’re bored is doing something interesting and having fun. You’re playful. You’re unafraid to break out your sense of humor.
You’re bored so anything to take you away from that feeling!
Use The Sherlock Holmes Technique
We all know Sherlock Holmes’ superpower: oberservation.
For him, it was a sixth sense. One room could present so many clues, spur so many discussions and so many questions.
What’s interesting in the room you’re sitting in? What’s going on around you? What are people doing? What objects do you see? What’s different? What’s off?
Get good at observing and you’ll become a master of conversation starters. They are the most natural way to start a conversation with anyone you meet.
Pauses and eye contact are 10x stronger than words
Pauses are seductive. Eye contact signals power.
They communicate visceral emotion and tension, which are major compenents of any interaction.
Eye contact can communicate passion, intent, attentiveness, assertiveness, confidence, and empathy. Pauses can communicate respect, mystery, thoughtfulness, confidence.
All qualities of someone with immense internal power and control.
Learn about the things that matter
I don’t care about where you went to college. I don’t care that you’re an accountant. I don’t care that you do yoga.
I care why you chose that college. Why you decided to become an accountant and if you like it or not. What makes you keep going back for more yoga.
I care about what you like to do for fun, what your lifestyle is like, what you wish it would be like, what you like to do if you had three hours on a Saturday, where you’ve traveled, what you did last weekend, who you’ve dated. I care about the stuff that you’d talk to your friends about over a beer.
So does everyone else. Learn this stuff about another person and you have a friend for life.