10 Easy Ways To Be Better At Talking To People (Because Sometimes It’s Really Hard)

Phil Coffman
Phil Coffman

1. Have open, positive body language

Projecting positive body language not only impacts how others view you, but it also affects your own body. Smiling more can do wonders to your mood and stress levels. Keep your arms uncrossed also gives off a more open, inviting vibe. Think about the last time you talked with someone and they had their arms crossed; it probably made you feel more on edge or defensive. If you have open and positive body language, it’s more likely that the person you are talking to will mirror you- mirroring is an unconscious act we do when we feel we are bonding with another person or when we feel the conversation is going well.

2. Trait transfer is your best friend; compliment away

Ever heard of the saying, “what you say about others, says something about you”? This is a true fact, psychologically- whatever you deflect as another’s behavior, the listener will interpret as a characteristic about you. For example, if you say your roommate is outgoing, friendly, and hilarious, your audience will think the same about you. On the other hand, if you said your roommate is needy, flirty, and obnoxious, the audience would interpret you to be the same way. Remember your connotations and words and talk positively about others (and yourself).

3. Love yourself, while being humble

Let’s be honest- we all know someone who is constantly fishing for compliments. Most of us would agree that it’s draining to be around an individual who is vying for validation. However, it’s also overwhelming to be around a person who brags about themselves. There is a fine line between being confident and being arrogant- find your middle ground. It’s important to know your flaws and strengths and own them! Anyone can respect a person who is willing to be honest and know themselves.

4. Be positive

So this point goes a bit deeper- think about physics. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed, and we exude positive and negative vibes. It’s our choice on which perspective we want to hold in life, but whatever we choose will always come back. When you’re consistent with negativity, you are also being negative in conversations, which will lead to worse results. Instead, no matter your position on an issue, event, person or that particular day, remain positive and speak in higher regards. “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.” –Henry Ford

5. Listen

This is a way to remain open-minded and understand others perspectives. One of the best tips I was ever told was to listen to someone’s viewpoint and wait 3-5 seconds to reply. If you reply in less than this time, you’re defending your response or replying with your own thoughts. You didn’t actually listen; instead, you were concentrated on your perspective. Try listening, and wait those three to five seconds to think on what they just said- they will feel heard and much more appreciated.

6. Ask open-ended questions

Think about how difficult it is to have a conversation with someone when that person gives you a one-word reply. If you have felt this way, try rewording the question to an open ended one, where they have to give you more detail and further explanation (Rubin, 2009.). The answerer will feel more inclined to give a deeper response, since you are asking a detail about them, instead of a generalized question. Rule of thumb to follow: when you need a simple answer, ask generally. When you want to get to know the person, ask specifically.

7. Have appropriate reactions

If someone told you their mother passed away a month ago, it’s very unlikely that you would laugh. Appropriate reactions lead to better empathy skills and a bonding moment between you and the other person in the conversation (Rubin, 2009). When a person feels understood, they find comfort within you and know you’re more dependable. Even if you want to tell them their joke is not funny, offer a smile. If they tell you something upsetting, express your condolences.

8. Find a way to have something in common

This is not always an easy task. However, if you’re able to find a topic to agree upon, it will make your conversation less awkward as well. Find a way to express your interests, and then see what they like/dislike. The easiest way to approach this topic is by telling them a passion or hobby you have and watching their reaction. If you get a positive reaction, keep going on that subject. If not, ask, “So, what do you do for fun?” and you will get a response. Even if you two are polar opposites, you can figure out more about them.

9. Ask about them

Most people talk to others because they want to be heard, but the key to getting others to like you quicker is making that person feel like they are the most important person in the room. Ask them questions on their interests, families, relationships, occupation, etc. and once you find something that they seem passionate about or that you have in common, go further on that topic. Once a person realizes you’re genuinely interested in them, they are more likely to open up.

10. Show that you’ve been listening

If you’ve ever been in a relationship you will understand this. Many times, you think your significant other is listening and when you refer back to the subject later, they smile and give a nervous laugh because they weren’t paying attention. You probably don’t enjoy this and feel ignored or unimportant. The same goes for a conversation with someone else. If you are listening, make sure to bring up their point in your next reply or response. Again, it’s very hard to find good listeners in general, so prove that you have been! Even if it is a subject you don’t agree or care for, pay attention and reiterate their thoughts. TC mark

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