Please prepare for a tiny dose of dry humour and a few silly scenarios as the more I thought about this piece the more I realised that they are the smallest and simplest skills you could ever develop, but unfortunately so many people haven’t been able to master them….yet!
So with that said…
Have you ever met someone or had a conversation with someone and felt like you needed to take a shower afterwards just because of how uncomfortable the experience was for you? And probably for them too!
Now, think about another time you met someone or had a conversation and walked away feeling amazing and feeling like you truly connected with that person so much so that you want to see them again just because how good they made you feel?
Well chances are in one of those encounters you weren’t met with these qualities and in the other you were greeted by all of them.
Now these are just a few things that came to mind today when I was in my car and I began thinking about how I communicate with people and how I have noticed other people communicate with each other and with me too. I thought about the different feelings I experienced after different meetings or encounters with people and it led me to think about what it was that I liked or disliked about talking to different people.
So I am going to share the 5 qualities that I appreciate most when meeting new people and also when communicating with people I already know.
Skill Number 1 – Saying “Hello”.
It is such a simple thing to do, yet so many people seem to have real trouble getting these two syllables out, or even one syllable if you prefer to say “Hi”.
Think about how uncomfortable it makes you feel when you say hello to someone and they don’t reciprocate it, or when someone walks into a room and lingers in awkward silence (often with their hands in their pockets and the shoulders shrugged) as if you were already in a conversation and neither of you know’s who’s turn it is to speak.
Are you sometimes the culprit of this heinous crime against positive human interaction?
If you are, then think to yourself about a time when you watched someone walk into a room and greeted everyone, and as they did the whole room seemed to light up with a new energy because of this person’s simple act. How good did it make you feel that somebody took a moment of their time to greet you?
Would you like to know the solution? It can be a tad scary for those of you new to speaking with people.
You say “Hello!”
Whether they are a stranger who you made eye contact with on the bus or someone you know, but you don’t feel like saying hello because you think you already know them “well enough”. Just do it and see what happens.
I know it sounds crazy, but I guarantee if you decide to take on the task you will instantly begin enjoying better and more enjoyable encounters with people.
Skill Number 2 – Paying a (genuine) compliment.
This is one of my favourites! I love it when someone says something nice about me, but I love to give compliments even more so!
Seriously! How good does it feel when someone says something like “You smell nice”, ” I love your hair”, “That’s a great shirt”, “Those shoes are awesome” or how about a real deep one that I love and I’m grateful to have received this one a few times… “You have a great energy”… ooooh that’s a good one!
And how about that look you get from people when you pay them a compliment?! It’s a kind of awkward blush/smile/smirk, but you can see that it made them feel really good and that makes you feel really, really, really good too! Don’t you just love that? I know I do!
But there’s a trick to paying compliments that some people simply don’t understand… Which is ok because if you are one of those people I’m going to help you out.
The trick to paying a great compliment and what can mean the difference between you both feeling amazing or you wishing you could walk out of the room, come back in and try a second time is to be Genuine!!!
We as human’s are intuitive creatures and we pick up on behaviour, tones and body cues really well, so even when we don’t consciously acknowledge that we noticed something strange, our subconscious does notice it and that’s when we are left with that strange feeling that something just isn’t right. Now when you are not being genuine, you put out those strange signals that the recipient will pick up on, then they will send back strange signals too because they are now uncomfortable and you are both left in a silent awkward dance of indecision about whether or not you continue talking to each other or you run and hide in embarrassment.
Now I know you are just dying to find out how to paying a genuine compliment! And I’m going to share with you how I go about it, but if I’m going to tell you this I want you to actually do it.
My trick to paying someone a great genuine compliment is to be HONEST! If I don’t 100% believe in the compliment I’m about to give then I don’t give it. Sometimes that means that I will skip this particular skill when first communicating with someone, but I would rather not pay someone a compliment and have a great conversation than pay them a false compliment just for the sake of doing so and causing us both the pain of sitting through an uncomfortable and dishonest greeting!
You will notice it more now that you’re aware of it that there are a lot of people who will pay you a phony compliment in an effort to buy your time because often they have an agenda for even speaking to you in the first place! And when you do notice it you might realise that you have been that fake person in the past, but don’t be concerned because after reading this incredibly insightful blog you will be that fake person no more!
Compliments! Love to get them! Love to give them even more! Genuine one’s only of course!
Skill Number 3 – Making and Maintaining Eye Contact
Everyone say “OOOOOOH!”
As soon as you read what skill number 3 was you instantly took yourself back to a conversation where the other person just wouldn’t look at you, they were constantly looking around the room or over your shoulder as if you weren’t even there! And when you have a conversation like this you might as well not be there… seriously, your time is worth more than that!
This is a skill that I admit takes some actual work to master, and I can’t even make a joke about it. It really does require effort on your part while you’re learning this skill to focus on the person you are talking with and give them your full attention and the respect they deserve for sharing their valuable time with you!
One major (Well actually very minor) hurdle people have with this skill is technology. So often people are more focussed on their phones during a physical conversation than they are with the person they’re actually with and it’s so sad to watch! Yes, I’ve been guilty of it and sometimes I still catch myself falling into the trap, but nowadays I catch myself and realise that being present with the person I’m next to is much more important than responding to a Facebook message of a funny meme one of my other friends sent me! Seriously, the meme can wait!
So just like the other 2 skills I’m going to tell you how I worked on this skill to become a fabulous person to communicate with. The first one is just practise, you have to try it, then try it some more and keep trying until you can have a full conversation with someone and not look at your phone, your watch or at anything other than the person in front of you. The second tip is to apologise when you stray your focus, there is nothing quite like holding yourself accountable for your actions, so next time you pick up your phone when a person is talking to you I want you to put your phone down, apologise for not being completely present and acknowledge that you appreciate that person’s time.
If you can master this and the first 2 skills you might just find that people will want to spend more time talking to you and as a result you will develop more meaningful connections with everyone you come into contact with!
Skill Number 4 – Listen
Remember Skill 3 where you had to make eye contact with someone when speaking with them, well that one was actually really important because when you’re not completely focussed on what they are saying, chances are you’re going to miss something and that is what we call “NOT” listening!
How bad do you feel when you’re talking to someone and it’s like talking to a ghost. You tell them about something great that happened in your day and it’s like it goes in one ear and straight out the other (as my mother would say). It actually hurts doesn’t it?
So how can you avoid causing other people that same pain? It’simple, you put down your damn iPhone (or android) and you listen to what they have to say, then when they have said what they have to say you acknowledge it and tell them something great that happened in your day. This continues for however long it takes, then at the end of the conversation you will both smile, because you both feel great that someone not only shared something great with you, they also let you share something great with them! Because as the old saying goes “sharing is caring”, which by that definition means having a conversation with someone is the same as caring for them… what a revelation!
I’m realising even more how much I love talking with people and I totally believe that everyone who reads this is going to be having some amazing encounters with people from now on!
Skill Number 5 – Gratitude
We have come to the final chapter is this mind-blowing lesson in conversation and it’s probably the most important skill of all.. Gratitude, which for the purpose of this piece is to be grateful for people’s time!
Just about every conversation I have nowadays, especially when it’s with someone totally new ends with me thanking them for their time!
Some of you are like “WHAAAAT?” this guy thanks people for speaking to him… what a weirdo! But I am deadly serious, I actually thank people for speaking with me.
I do it because when I communicate with someone and all 4 of the previous skills are put into practise by me and if by chance the other person has read this article and also practises these skills then that is going to be an amazing conversation! Honestly, if both parties are playing 100% at being rock star communicators then the kinds of conversations you can have even in a matter of moments can be incredible!
So just like when a friend cooks you a spectacular meal and you thank them for doing so, I thank people for spending their time with me and having an awesome chat!
Now you don’t always have to actually say it (Even though it feels really good when you do) , you can actually show your gratitude for that person just by being present with them and practising the skills we’ve talked about already, because I guarantee that if you do all of these things that person will feel your gratitude even if you don’t physically say “Thank you”.
Now for the purpose of helping you get better at having a great, meaningful conversation that ends with both of you wanting to talk again in like 2 minutes I’m going to give you a tip on how you can emphasise your gratitude for someone. Are you ready? OK!
The next time you speak with someone and you genuinely (what’s the word) feel like you had a great chat, I want you to say these exact words to that person.
“Thank you so much for this chat, I really enjoyed talking with you”
If you can do this and be genuine, I assure you people will be coming back to you just to be able to speak with you and share their time and presence with you, because you made them feel respected, you made them feel appreciated and you made it feel worthwhile for them to share their time with you!
Is your mind thinking about every single bad conversation you’ve ever had and every single great conversation you’ve ever had at the same time right now? Good, so it’s not just me!
Time is the most valuable asset you have and sharing it with other people is precious, so remember that next time someone is gracious enough to share their time with you and practice these skills in every conversation you have. By doing so you will be adding great amounts of value to their already treasured time and that is a service this world needs more of!
In closing I want to thank you so much for taking the time to read this and if you felt any value in it then please share it with your friends or on your social media because if you and all the people in your life could be superstar communicators by using these skills.. Just imagine how much more amazing your relationships would become!