Have you ever experienced social anxiety? For most of my life I had major issues with this. Part of my struggle was being terrified to say the wrong thing. This lead to me almost never talking. Well, being an effective communicator is not about saying the perfect thing all the time. It is more about being interested in the person and aiming to connect with them. Here are some wonderful ways you can get better at communicating with people in person.
It is very beneficial to truly take in what someone is saying to you. Have you ever been planning in your head what to say next while someone is talking to you? This is common but not the best approach. If you really listen you will be able to understand them better and more naturally continue the conversation. (Tips to being a better listener.)
Get Curious and Ask More Questions
I used to have trouble coming up with questions to ask people when they talked to me. Why? Because I was too worried about what I should say next. Instead, take the focus off of yourself. Get deeply curious about the person talking to you. Get interested in what they are talking about. In that frame of mind, it will be far more easy to think up genuine questions to ask the person. And most people will enjoy answering questions more than listening to you ramble on about this or that. Plus this will help you to feel less pressure around what to say about yourself. (List of small talk questions.)
Use Body Language and Facial Expressions
Subtle body and facial cues make a big impact on how we communicate with each other. You may not realize the subconscious impact this has on others. But being more aware of your body and face and how others see you when you interact is very helpful. You can lean in to express more interest. You can have your arms uncrossed to express openness. You can nod along and keep eye contact. There are many simple ways to show that you are engaged in the person talking to you. (Tips to improve your body language.)
Be Precise and Brief
Have you ever been talking to someone and realize you have been talking for a while and you aren’t sure if you are making sense anymore? Or maybe you just notice the person is losing interest in what you are saying. For most of my life I was painfully shy and full of anxiety around social situations. One thing that has helped is for me to talk less and let the other person talk more. So when you share something, keep it precise and brief. (Click for details on talking precise and brief.)
Focus on One Person at a Time
Have you ever been at a party and got distracted with all the people around you? It is less stressful to aim to connect with one person at a time. Try and pretend it is just you and that one person alone in a room. It is rare that someone gives there full attention to another person. So if you do this, the person you are talking with will be more interested in you. And chances are that they will become completely captivated by you.
Validate, then Share
Often people are just waiting for their turn to talk in a conversation. That makes it feel like less of a true conversation. After you hear what the person has said…comment on it with a validation. “Oh I love that movie too, have you ever seen…?”. This type of comment alone will let them feel heard and be more willing to listen to what you have to say.
Think of Ways You Can Help This Person
Maybe the person you are chatting with mentions they are starting in the stock market but getting overwhelmed by it. Let’s say, you just took a course on how to invest wisely and smoothly in the stock market. Share information on that course with them and how it has helped you. Finding ways you can share and help others is wonderful. Whether it is a new person or your mom…everyone wins in this situation. You feel better and so does the other person.
You know the saying about practice. It seems to be true with anything that if you take time to practice you will get better. That may sound too simple to you but it is true. Practice with people you run into throughout your day. Ask a fun question to your gas station clerk. Spark up a chat with the person in line at the grocery store. The more you make yourself talk to people, the more comfortable you get at it. Then after awhile, you will be able to have short fun chats and then deep unique talks with anyone and everyone you desire.
It seems everyone wants to be able to communicate more effectively. Either to make new friends, get a promotion, connect more deeply with your family or just to increase their confidence. Maybe it’s for all of these things. Regardless, taking time to learn to be a more effective communicator is a massively beneficial journey. This type of pursuit will truly enhance all areas of your life. Don’t you want to enhance all areas of your life? Well then, get out there and interact with more people already!