Since the debut of the 21st century, humans have been experiencing a raging loneliness epidemic. Technology has made us clicks away from what is exciting to the extent that we always wish that people would speak to us more quickly and tell us eccentric things all the time. There is a sizeable proportion of humanity that prefers to hide behind the cloak of their virtual accounts feeling let off the hook. However, the recent covid19 pandemic made us realize the value of interpersonal communication after we have been shut into our homes with nothing to do but to share Facebook memes and watch movies. The excessive loneliness made us feel like outcasts living in isolated caves. So, it becomes so much important to learn how to retrieve the ability to communicate back before it becomes too late!
Be a Good Listener
Listening is the most fundamental skill you need to develop to connect with others. Conversations are not about swapping information for enjoyment or benefit. When we socialize with others, our aim should be to forge our relationship with them. Unfortunately, technology has turned us into poor listeners because we have been accustomed to skipping what we hear for the first time as all the materials will be available on the internet shortly. We lost the skill of high-quality listening of what we hear in the present moment assuming that it would be repeated again and again.
To improve our listening skills, we need to know the main three types of listening that we all use unknowingly.
Critical vs Emphatic: Listening from a critical perspective means analyzing the data that you are receiving to check whether they are true or false. The purpose of critical listening is to form conclusions and take decisions by scanning information. Conversely, empathic listening gives priority to feelings over the accuracy of information. Sometimes, feelings should be honoured over information while in other times, a wise person must hone in for details. You should know the difference between these two to use them at the right time.
Reductive vs Expansive: Engaging in reductive listening occurs when we are listening to a person to glean the most crucial points or ideas after skipping the less important parts. This type of listening helps a lot during stressful situations. By contrast, expansive listening means helping the speaker to open up and share as many thoughts as they can about a certain topic. If you listen to someone expansively, you don’t wait for the most important details, but rather provide the speaker with an emotional outlet.
Passive vs Active: Active listening simply means to be all ears for the person who is talking; meanwhile, passive listening is to listen without exerting any effort to understand or take the information in. Try to always adopt an active position by asking questions and summarizing what the speaker says. Express your surprise whenever you hear something interesting or shocking. You can opt for passive listening during unsolicited conversations or annoying ones.
Stop Fearing Judgment
Fearing to be judged is one of the most paralyzing reasons that keep us away from interpersonal communication. Social anxiety has become a common condition that most of us experience with the lack of social connectedness that marks our lives. If you care too much about what people say about you, and your anxiety is holding you back, you are not doing any favour to your social skills. After all, no one pleases all people all the time, and people sometimes have the right to judge your character. Therefore, if you want to build long-lasting relationships, you have to stop caring about people’s judgment and pick yourself up to meet new people. Don’t let anything rattle you or stop you from believing that there are good people out there waiting to befriend you.
Don’t dwell on your mistakes, and don’t think that the others will do. People have many things to care about rather than the silly sentence you said or the embarrassing situation that you went through. What’s more, these people do say silly things and undergo a plethora of embarrassing situations!
Eliminate negative self-talk and stop putting yourself down. Start educating yourself by reading more books and shoring up ideas about this world. The wiser you become; the more people will respect you. If people judge you because of your looks, social level, or job, they are not worthy of your time. Don’t try to change who you are to appeal to others. It is condescending and extremely painful. However, if people judge you because of something annoying you do, it’s better to have second thoughts about it even if you are not convinced.
You might do as most self-help experts say and “fake it till you make it.” This well-known saying means that if you are not confident enough of yourself and still suffering from plummeting self-esteem, you can pretend that you are proud of yourself until you be. Yes, you can deceive others and even your mind by learning the body language of confident people.
Learn the Power of Silence
Voicing every thought that pops into your mind is the silliest thing you can do to keep a conversation going. What goes inside our minds while others are speaking can easily hijack the conversation and sound annoying. Sometimes, we get driven by an impulse to correct the speaker regarding minor details; those who have a pedantic streak experience this impulse the most.
Some listeners barge in to disagree on what the speaker is saying while others feel that they always have to keep agreeing to gain the speaker’s approval. Anyways, no matter what your input is about, it makes you look weird and disrupts the flow of the talk, so it is better to remain silent. Silence doesn’t translate to inattentiveness at all, and even if you wish to express that you are listening actively, few verbal and nonverbal nods will do. You have to engage with the speaker by asking questions and summarizing as we said, but you have to make sure you are not breaking the speaker’s mental flow. Unless someone asks you to comment on what is being said, they probably don’t want your comment now. Therefore, avoid giving unwanted advice or opinions about something if you are not asked. Moreover, saying things out of the spite usually results in the most terrible situations. We all have millions of thoughts every day and most of them are unimportant and even silly. Therefore, let this whole range of junk files flash in and out of your mind without feeling the need to express yourself.
Use the FORD Method
If you are one of these people who get stuck in conversations because you don’t know what you can say to keep the conversation going, the FORD method has been just created for you. F.O.R.D. is a universal method of communication that provides a natural bridge into any conversation you want to have. F.O.R.D is an abbreviation for Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Dreams. You can always ask questions about these four topics whenever you run out of things to say. However, ask the questions naturally without acting like an investigator or a detective, and always give a thoughtful response after your partner replies.
Build on what the other person says to give some background information about yourself; otherwise, the conversation will seem like a forced interview, which will incite a feeling of anxiety. The mentioned four topics can be a communicational goldmine when used correctly, provided that you avoid throwing a volleyball of questions.
Don’t let any obscure responses scare you from proceeding with the conversation. For example, if your friend mentions a strange hobby or occupation that you hear for the first time, say that you don’t know anything about it and wish to learn more. This will be a wise response that will keep the conversation going instead of saying any remark that strikes a wrong note. Moreover, Expressing your interest to learn more about someone’s lives can strike a rapport. Therefore, embark on your conversations wishing to learn and think of every person as a book having a unique story and worthwhile experiences to share.