8 Tips to improve your comunication skills

Published: 21st August 2006
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If you often have difficulty in starting conversations and maintaining the interest of people you are speaking with, you are just a member of what is probably the largest group of humans on this planet – "nice people with less than perfect communication skills".

Your upbringing and life experiences may have made you defensive or even negative about most people that you meet. It might be that you just need to improve your socializing techniques a little.

It is very unlikely that you can't improve at all with the help of my tips in this section. Of course, not all of my suggestions will work equally well for every reader. You will not need to improve at all in some areas anyway.

1. Accept compliments
While we all crave recognition, many people find it very hard to accept praise. Sometimes, their reaction sours the moment
or the person who offered the compliment too. If someone praises you in a genuine manner, thank them. You can acknowledge anyone else that deserves a share of the credit but take what is due to you without fuss or false modesty.

2. Drop Your Fences (just a little!)
If we are tense about meeting people we don't know but we want to make a good impression with, that may cause our whole body to start to prepare for flight (the most natural reaction to the fear we are filling our mind with). That will cause the other person to react at a very basic level to the unspoken signals we are sending them. We should remind ourselves that there's little chance that they will attack us (muscles – relax!) and counter the negativity with positive thoughts that we can improve the other person's day in the next few minutes.Then, those positive vibes will cause a more positive reaction in the other person.

3. Prepare your opening lines
Most experienced speakers rehearse their casual, off-the-cuff remarks as well as their formal presentations. Otherwise, the ad-libs might not work and tend to reduce their professional image in the minds of the people they are talking with. So, rehearse a few openings and don't hesitate to take every chance you get to use them. A simple, proven way to reduce any butterflies is to ask yourself, "What's the worst that might happen?"

4. Ask Open Questions
Closed questions can be answered with single-word answers such as "Yes" or "No!" You can see that they just don't give much scope for your listener to open out the discussion. When you start a conversation, you want an answer from the other person, which you can use to continue the conversation and broaden the range of it. "Did you enjoy the concert?" is a closed question. "What did you like best about the Concert?" is an open question that invites more conversation, even if they thought the concert was the worst that they've ever seen.

5. Show Respect for Their Answer
Sometimes, you may not agree with their response, but please don't immediately push your opposite view at them. When you begin the conversation, ask a question that will spark a conversation, not a battle. Start the conversation as you want it to continue.

6. Always Be Positive
If you drop your troubles in your new acquaintance's lap, their reaction is not likely to be sympathy (except for themselves for meeting you!) Whatever hassles you're going through in your life, leave them at the door. Try to be upbeat and interested in
everyone in the group and what they have to say. Give positive re-enforcement to the people you talk with and keep away from
criticism of people that are not present. Keep away, as far as possible from people that hack 'absent friends'; just think what those turkeys might be cackling about you when you're absent yourself.

7. Gag the gossip
Gossip and rumor is always negative about someone. Don't spread it or encourage those who do by letting them foul your ears with

8. Keep quiet
Don't pass on anything which other people tell you unless you are sure they want you to. That they 'probably won't mind' is never a good enough reason. This will reinforce the good impression you make. You've got two ears and one mouth – use them in that proportion. If you think that you might be boring your listener, stop drilling. Often, asking them something aboutone of their special interests is the best way to get the conversation going again.

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