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Brave Talk Bulletin

6 Steps to Immediately Improve Your Communication Skills for More Successful Relationships

Social interactions are a minefield. If you’re like me, you’re far from a social butterfly, and relationships don’t come easy. You might find yourself mumbling and staring at the floor when you should be making an impact. Perhaps you don’t talk to someone you find attractive due to sheer embarrassment.

I managed to change and improve my relationships, and if you want to succeed in life, you need to do the same. It’s hard to overstate the importance of networking in achieving your dreams.

One study showed that social connection is a more significant determinant of health than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure.

People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression, higher self-esteem, and greater empathy. Humans are inherently social creatures.

The good news is no matter where you lie on the “social skills” ladder, you can improve and get out of your way when connecting with others. If I can do it, anyone can.

1. When Asked How You Are, Don’t Just Say “good.”

When someone asks how you’re doing, they don’t want your life story. However, if you have “good” as a default response, you miss out on a potential interaction that fell in your lap and could turn into something beneficial.

Preparation is key. Make a small list right now of interesting and pithy responses. I recently heard someone say, “any day above ground is a good one.” This response helps you stand out from the crowd and enables you to think on your feet during conversations.

Show people you are not just a zombie. You know the type — head down, eyes on the floor, grunts when someone says hello. They will leave this little interaction with the impression you are upbeat and original, and you will leave feeling confident.

These small wins are essential to building you up for more challenging changes in the future.

2. Greet Every Person You See.

When walking, say hi to everyone regardless of how they look or the vibe they give you. I don’t mean look away and grunt. I mean smile, make eye contact, and say hello.

Sometimes, people who look unapproachable will give you a bright smile and take you by surprise. Others won’t respond, and that’s fine — it costs you nothing. You may even start a spontaneous interaction.

In the main, people are responsive, and facing a small rejection will build your resilience. We all face rejection in various ways, so it’s time you get used to it when the stakes are so low.

If you’re shopping, make small talk with a person in the queue, or talk to the cashier.

Make sure you have at least a small interaction with everyone in attendance at social gatherings.

All this is to learn how to drop your guard and give little bits of yourself away as often as possible. As you accumulate small wins, you can increase the importance of these interactions, but slow and steady wins the race.

3. Work On Your Eye Contact.

I struggle with this a lot. As my confidence in life has improved, eye contact remains difficult. I remember my dad encouraging me to walk down the street with my head up and look people in the eye, and smile. Back then, I found it impossible. Now I can do it, but it remains problematic.

The benefits of eye contact are huge. Studies show that an increase in the amount of eye contact generated by a speaker significantly increased the speaker’s credibility regarding qualification and honesty factors.

Eye contact is a vital tool in the classroom and is crucial in doctor/patient relationships.

To start, practice being the last person to break eye contact. After a short time, you’ll learn staring is creepy and will be able to engage in warm, regular conversations.

You want to lead conversations — to make the other person react to you. If you have an aura of positivity, people will feel safe and inspired.

4. Stop Waiting to Talk and Learn to Listen.

If you’re like most people, you listen with the intent to reply — waiting for the other person to shut up so you can get your bit in. While they are talking, you are rehearsing your next line.

If you learn how to LISTEN, you will stand head and shoulders above the crowd. People will recognize you as a great conversationalist because they want to be heard.

There’s nothing people like talking about more than themselves.

Additionally, when you listen, you get a much clearer idea of what the person is all about, which will help you come up with better responses than your rehearsed lines.

In your interactions with others, you can easily spot their facial expressions that show they are trying to think of what to say next or waiting for you to shut up.

Well, guess what? People do that to you as well!

This skill is potent when combined with eye contact. People will sense calm confidence emanating from you.

In short, practice active listening.

5. Quiet Moments in Conversation Are OK.

Most of us dread the awkwardness of a conversation drying up midflow, and it will be uncomfortable at first, but you need to quit trying to fill every moment with words.

Allowing silence shows confidence. If you were selling a lousy product or had something to hide, you would ramble on nonstop.

Subtle indifference to silence is persuasive and allows you to think of a good response.

6. Pull The Trigger and Take Action.

Imagine you are afraid to approach someone. Continuing to think about it won’t make the situation any better.

Just do it.

Make action your default response to discomfort through deliberate practice of putting yourself in stressful situations.

Don’t be the kind of person who sits on the sidelines preparing. One instance of taking action and learning the hard way beats reading dozens of books while relaxing in bed.

In this case, thinking is your enemy — it causes your problems, so how can it be the solution?

This is why I recommend starting slowly — with just a hello to a stranger. Build up a foundation of practical wins and move on gradually. You’ve read enough, and you know what you have to do.

Final Thoughts.

As tough as social situations can be, there is one guiding rule:

People love talking about themselves.

By learning how to make eye contact, actively listening to other people, and becoming confident and engaging, you show them they can open up about themselves and that you care enough to listen.

It’s not manipulative. You are making other people feel good which in turn improves your life as well. Other people are more likely to return the favor, and as human beings are inherently social creatures, it’s a win for everyone concerned.

Perhaps the best result of all is you will feel better about yourself. As you appear more confident and friendly to others, you become that person inside. You have the potential to be more successful than you imagined.

And it all starts with a “Hi” to a stranger.

Brave Talk Bulletin

Former police officer 🚔 | Suicide hotline volunteer 📞 | PTSD survivor 💪 | Helping others navigate tough conversations with empathy and clarity 💬

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