4 Advanced Conversation Skills and How to Cultivate Them

In my view, you have intermediate conversation skills when you are able to start a conversation with a wide range of people, keep it going, talk about various topics and build some sort of connection with a portion of the people you talk with.

A lot of folks don’t have this level of conversation skills, and they generally struggle with making conversation. Then again, a lot of folks do have this level of conversation skills. And when you’re an intermediate-level conversationalist or close to it, it’s worth considering attaining an advanced level of conversation skills.

Advanced conversation skills will influence the way you come across, the impact you have on others and the quality of your relationships so much that you won’t believe. Few experiences compare to going to a party, meeting or social event, engaging with people and being one of the best, smoothest conversationalists in the room (if not the best).

So I firmly believe that gaining advanced conversation skills is a worthy pursuit, no matter who you are. But what does it mean to have advanced conversation skills anyway?

Well, I’d like to talk to you about 4 conversation skills that I consider will practically turn you into an advanced conversationalist. They’re not the only advanced conversation skills, but they are some of the most important ones. And I’m gonna show you how to cultivate them to boot.

1. Reframing

In conversation, reframing is the ability to look at the topic being discussed and the ideas being expressed from a new, original perspective, and talking from that perspective. It’s, in a way, switching the angle of the conversation. And it’s a great method to spice up the conversation.

iStock 000027103971Small 300x249 4 Advanced Conversation Skills and How to Cultivate ThemHere’s an example of reframing during a discussion with a girl.

Her: “Boy! My purse is really heavy. I don’t know why I’ve put so much stuff in it.”

You: “Yeah, well at least if someone harasses you on the street, you can easily use it as a clobbering device. They’ll be sorry they ever messed with you!”

That’s a reframe. And by doing this reframe with your remark, you’ve achieved two things. You’ve turned a negative (the purse being heavy) into a positive, and you’ve also given the purse an unconventional, creative utility (as a clobbering device). So your comment is interesting and funny, and it helps you make an impression. Not bad for one comment!

How to develop your ability to reframe: by deliberately trying to look at topics and statements made in conversation from new, different angles. Move away from conventional thinking and seek to think out of the box. With practice, you’ll get better at it.

2. Empathizing

Empathizing is the ability to put yourself in the shoes of the other person, understand their thoughts and feelings, and make statements from this perspective. The more empathy you have, the easier it is to empathize with someone in a conversation.

Here’s what empathizing look like.

Her: “My boss criticized me for 20 minutes for being 5 minutes late! I couldn’t believe it!”

You: ”Wow, I imagine you felt really frustrated and shocked. I mean, how big of a deal is it to be 5 minute late anyway?”

Her: “Yes, exactly! You get me so well!”

See what you’re doing? You’re putting yourself in the other person’s situation and you’re talking about how you imagine she felt and how she saw the situation. That’s empathizing. And when you empathize with someone effectively, it shows that you’re really listening and that you understand them. Which is very rare and it’s bound to earn you a lot of points.

How to develop your ability to empathize: by deliberately putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. The more you practice, the more your empathy improves, and understanding the other person gets easier, so making empathic statements gets easier.

3. Relating

Relating is the ability to connect to what the other person says, with something from your own life or knowledge. A master conversationalist is able to relate to a very wide range of statements, on a very wide range of topics. It goes something like this:

Him: “I went water surfing this weekend. Lots of fun!”

You: “So you do water surfing ha? I tried water skiing once. My back hurt for two days after that, but it was an amazing experience. Have to try it again sometimes.”

By making such a comment you enter in the other person’s world and you show them you can connect with it to some extent. You emphasize commonalities between the two of you, which encourages the other person to open up more, and makes them like you more. That’s the power of relating.

How to develop your ability to relate: first of all by developing a rich lifestyle, where you try a lot of things and have a large array of experiences. That way just about anything the other person talks about, you have some related experience to share. And second of all, again, by practicing sharing related experiences from your own life during conversation.

4. Storytelling

Advanced conversationalists tend to tell a lot of stories when chatting. And they know how to tell them well, so even a banal event seems like a crazy adventure when they narrate it. Rookies tend to only make short, generic statements in conversation, which does little to convey their personality and make it hard to keep the conversation going.

So captivating storytelling is definitely an advanced conversation skill worth cultivating. There is nothing more captivating than a good storyteller, grabbing and holding the attention of an entire group of people with their story about that time when they accidentally ate dish soap.

How to develop your storytelling skills: for one, by telling more stories. Start with short, simple stories if you’re not used to telling stories, and advance to longer, more intricate ones. And also by learning about the rules and principles of good storytelling and practicing them when you share stories.

If you wanna learn more about these rules and principles of good storytelling, as well as reframing, empathizing, relating and other advanced conversation skills, I recommend that you get onboard my free social confidence newsletter, which is where I share most of my advanced conversation advice these days.

Once or twice a week, you’ll receive practical information from me for improving your social skills, social confidence and social life, directly in your Inbox. So go here right now and enter your email to join the newsletter.

Advanced conversation skills do take some practice to develop. But with the right guidance, it can be a surprisingly fast and rewarding experience. Through this article I’ve helped you set a solid foundation for developing advanced conversation skills. The rest is up to you.

Go get them!

5 Rules for Conversing With Busy People

Sometimes, especially in your professional life, you’ll deal with people who are very busy. People who are flooded with tasks and responsibilities, and they have little time for casual conversation.

Unsurprisingly, these individuals who are very busy also tend to be very successful, capable and knowledgeable, so it’s in your interest to befriend them. But how do you talk to such a person in order to make friends with them?

For the most part, talking to a busy person is the same as talking to any other person. The same principles apply. However, there are a few specific rules that apply for conversing with busy people in particular. I’d like to share these rules with you in the following paragraphs.

1. Remember That Even Busy People Are Social Creatures

Just because a person is busy doesn’t mean they don’t want to chat with others and they don’t enjoy it. They just don’t have that much time for it so they have to prioritize their conversations. But busy people can be very social and friendly. Like anyone else, they have a deep-seated need to socialize and make friends.

This is important to keep in mind because it’s easy to assume that since a person is very busy, they’re also gonna be very grouchy and distant, and so it’s not worth trying to talk to them. But in reality, this is rarely the case. And the more you make conversation with busy people, the more you’ll experience this yourself.

2. Don’t Try to Prove Yourself

Folks who do a lot of things and their time is in great demand are likely to trigger in us feelings of inferiority or inadequacy. We feel we’re not good enough for them to give us a piece of their time and attention. Consequently, when the give us their time and attention, we decide to use it to showcase our assets and prove ourselves to them.

Let me tell you: there is no bigger turnoff for a busy person than somebody trying to impress them. Yes, they know they’re capable and in demand, but it doesn’t mean they expect others to try and prove themselves to them. In fact, most of them see this as very needy behavior.

The best use of your time interacting with a busy person is in relating to them authentically, not in trying to impress them. Focus on making conversation and creating a connection, not on proving yourself. You have nothing to prove.

3. Spend More Time in Their Reality

busy 5 Rules for Conversing With Busy PeopleUsually when making conversation with another person, I recommend you find topics that you both enjoy equally, and talk about those. So if the conversation lands on a topic you fancy, but the other person doesn’t seem to resonate with it, you try to change the topic, just as you try to change it in the reverse situation.

When dealing with a busy person though, since their time is in high demand, your favorite topics take a slight backseat to theirs. It usually makes sense to make an extra effort and unsure they find the subjects you talk about meaningful.

This often entails being curious, asking open-ended questions, and once you’ve found a topic they enjoy talking about, exploring that topic. Spend time in their reality. I’m not saying you should torture yourself with conversation about stuff you have zero interest in, but do try a bit more than usual to accommodate the other person. One way or another, it will pay off.

4. Get to the Point

Busy people have little patience for evasive communicators who beat around the bush. Their time is highly valuable. So they don’t need you to sugar coat your messages that much; they just want you to get to the point and say what you have to say.

Interestingly enough, even though they prefer a direct style of communication, busy individuals are the most likely to deal with an indirect style of communication. This is because they intimidate most people and most people are very fearful of upsetting them, so they beat round the bush.

Make sure you don’t make the same mistake most people make though. Get to the point when talking with a busy person. Be clear and straightforward in your communication. They will take pleasure in talking with you more and they will respect you more.

5. Don’t Hesitate to Reschedule

Even the busiest people have moments during the day when their time is unsolicited and it’s convenient for them to chat. But they’re not frequent. So it’s often possible that you engage such a person, and you quickly realize they’re not in such a moment.

Sensing that it’s not a good moment for them to chat, most of us do one of two things: either we end the conversation abruptly so they can get back to other stuff, or we speed up our speaking rate, often to the point where it becomes downright comical.

I would like to suggest a better alternative: reschedule. If you find the moment isn’t good for the other person to chat, acknowledge this and schedule some other time. For example, say something like: “Listen I notice you’re busy. Maybe we can continue this conversation some other time. Wanna have lunch together today for instance?”

I reschedule conversations like this all the time, and I find it to be an amazingly elegant and effective approach. Give it a try.

Making quality conversation is a skill. And making quality conversation with busy people is even more so. It takes a certain level of understanding of human psychology and social dynamics to be a good conversationalist, as well a certain amount of practice. I’ve provided some of the understanding in this article. Putting it into practice is up to you.

Enjoy yourself!

Image courtesy of herlitz_pbs

 

When People Tell You That You Don’t Talk Much

When I was shy, I didn’t talk very much in conversations, especially with people I didn’t know well. So I often received comments and questions like: “You don’t talk much” or “Why don’t you participate in the conversation?”

I remember that these kinds of remarks and questions made feel very uncomfortable and I didn’t know how to react to them. I didn’t like being shy, and I liked it even less when people realized that I was shy.

Then, coaching shy people for a living, I discovered that almost every shy person deals with such situations and they don’t know how to handle them effectively. So I’d like to share some practical idea with you and clarify what you can do when people say you don’t talk very much.

Do Not Get Defensive or Try To Be Witty

Usually, when a person gets told they don’t talk very much, their first impulse is to justify themselves. They will go into this elaborate and often phony explanation designed to prevent them from appearing shy because they don’t talk much.

Unfortunately, others typically see right through such explanations. And the very fact that you’re trying to defend yourself so hard is the first indication that the comment bothered you, which is a sign of insecurity in itself.

Other times they will try to be witty and deliver some sort of clever comeback. This is typically doomed to fail as well. As you may have experienced yourself, it is seldom that you manage to be witty when you’re put on the spot by somebody and you feel emotional pressure.

Defending yourself and trying to be witty are both anxiety-generated, approval-seeking reactions, and believe me, they do very little for you. Here is a much better alternative.

Just Provide a Basic Answer

critic 300x209 When People Tell You That You Dont Talk MuchI found that when someone tells you that you don’t talk much, the best answer is a short, simple one. Something like “Yeah, sometimes I’m not in the mood to talk” or “I just don’t have anything to say right now” is enough.

You’re still explaining yourself, but you’re not over-explaining yourself so it doesn’t come off as needy or defensive. Most importantly, by giving just a basic answer, you’re not making a big deal out of this whole thing. You give a basic reply to a basic question, and you move on.

In my experience, this is by far the best approach. The other person will take the answer you provided, be satisfied with it, and continue participating in the social interaction.

It’s even okay to admit that you’re a bit shy. Other people actually have a lot of understanding towards shy people. Not pity, as many shy persons assume; understanding.

And even if they may not seem like it, they are shy to some extend as well. Or they may have been in the past. Understanding that you’re shy typically encourages them to be supportive towards you, which is the best response to help you get out of your shell in social situations.

Focus On Overcoming Your Shyness Not On Hiding It

Overall, I feel that focusing on making others think you are social when you really aren’t is counterproductive. Your priority should be to learn to be more outgoing socially (which you can do), rather than managing how others see you.

Interestingly enough, the moment when you stop caring too much about comments like “you don’t talk much” is when you start to be more talkative and so you get less of these comments. It means you’ve begun to not fear disapproval, a fear that’s at the root of shyness and social anxiety.

So, focus on learning to see yourself in a better light, on overcoming your limiting beliefs and on building social skills. This is what will make you more confident socially and more talkative.

This approach helps you deal with the primary issue, which is the fact you’re shy, not the secondary one, which is the fact people see you as shy.

Shyness is not a disease; it’s not even a defect necessarily. But it is a thorny behavioral and emotional habit that can make it very hard to relate to others and make you miss out on a lot in life. And thus it’s the core issue to deal with.

To learn how to eliminate your limiting beliefs and overcome shyness, I suggest that you watch this instructional presentation, where I discuss this topic in more detail. Access it right now.

Work on dealing with your shyness, using proven psychological tools, and the multiple problems derived from shyness (such as pesky remarks from other people) will naturally disappear.

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How to Keep a Conversation Going With a Girl

As a social confidence coach, I work regularly with guys who struggle with keeping conversations going. In particular, they have trouble prolonging discussions with members of the opposite sex, which is why how to keep a conversation going with a girl is a topic that I often address.

There is a lot of advice out there on how to talk to girls, and there are numerous approaches, from using memorized lines, to playing the nice guy, to bombarding her with questions.

I like to think that my approach differentiates itself from the majority because I don’t teach guys superficial gimmicks or routines, and I don’t encourage them to be fake. I help them understand female psychology and social dynamics, gain social confidence and build real social skills with women.

There are a few tried and tested ideas regarding how to keep a conversation going with a girl that truly work very well, and I constantly encourage my coaching clients to apply them. I’d like to share them with you, one by one.

1. Stop Romanticizing Women

Almost every guy I know who has trouble keeping conversation going with girls has this strong inclination to romanticize women. They see women as flawless, especially beautiful ones, they think women in general are above them and hard to impress, and they believe they must always say something brilliant in conversation in order to keep a women’s interest.

This mindset is very far from reality, and it makes it hard for them to hold a conversation with girl. They don’t see anything they have to say as good enough, they pressure themselves to be witty with every comment they make, and thus they end up having little to say in a discussion.

This is why it’s imperative to stop romanticizing women. It will allow you to relax around women, be confident, and speak your mind without second guessing yourself all the time. And this is a very attractive behavior, which coincidentally also makes conversation feel effortless.

Of course, to stop romanticizing women is easier said than done. We’re talking about changing a thinking and behavioral habit, which requires particular psychological techniques. To dig into them, watch this instructional presentation in which I discuss this subject separately and more thoroughly.

2. Find out Her Interests

Guys often have a hard time knowing what to talk about with a girl because they don’t know her interests. They may think: “I can talk about computers, because I’m interested in this subject; but will she be interested?”

girl 300x198 How to Keep a Conversation Going With a GirlOne way to solve this predicament is by trial and error. You begin talking about a certain topic that you think she might be interested in, and if she does indeed seem interested, you keep talking about it. If not, you move to another topic, and another, and another, seeking to find those that she can relate to. And this is a natural part of a regular conversation.

However, there is an even better way to deal with this predicament. Early in the conversation, you ask the girl a simple, straightforward question that elicits her interests. I usually like to ask something like: “So, what do you like to do?” or “Tell me: what are your interests?”

She will mention a few of them, and then I know what I can talk about that she’ll enjoy. I then identify among those topics the ones I enjoy as well, and I know these are directions I can confidently take the conversation in. This is how to keep a conversation going with a girl by finding common ground.

3. Talk about Yourself

There is this popular idea that to keep a conversation going with a girl you just met, you have to ask her lots of questions, because everybody loves to talk about themselves, and not talk too much about yourself, because you’ll appear self-absorbed.

I don’t know who first came up with this idea, but in all seriousness I doubt they had many experiences talking to women. Because in practice, this idea rarely holds water.

You need to realize that when you’re talking with a girl you just met, to her, you are mostly a stranger. She knows almost nothing about you. And a girl isn’t gonna feel comfortable answering a long line of personal questions from a guy she knows almost nothing about. I can’t tell you how many girls have confessed this to me.

For this reason it’s important when you’re talking to a girl to combine asking her questions with talking about yourself. It is this mix of her talking, you talking, her talking some more, you talking some more, that makes the conversation move forward and helps both of you become comfortable with each other. And that’s exactly what you want.

Typically, you may hesitate to talk about yourself, and because you lack practice, you may not be very good at it either. But this is something that you can only overcome with practice. So try to be more talkative and talk more about yourself. With experience you’ll get better at it and it will get a lot easier as well.

4. Manage Your Anxiety

Guys who want to learn how to keep a conversation going with a girl typically feel a lot of anxiety when talking to girls, or even just thinking about it. Their heart races, their mind often goes blank, and this naturally makes dialogue difficult.

Nearly every time, this anxiety is the real root of the problem. Not a lack of conversation skills; or at least, not as much. And if you wanna be able to make effortless conversation with a girl, you need to weed out the problem from its root.

In other words, you need to learn how to manage your anxiety around girls, so you can feel at ease talking to any girl. Then you’ll naturally be able to have conversations as long as you want.

Since this is an intricate topic, I address it separately and in more detail in this special video. I recommend you watch it right now, because in it you’ll learn some of the most powerful information in existence about eliminating conversation anxiety and building conversation confidence. So make sure you watch it.

I know talking to a girl may be difficult for you right now. But trust me, this can completely change. Yes, it will take some work. You have to learn to deal with your nervousness, and you need to create better conversation habits for yourself.

The good news is that there are quality resources and specialists ready to assist you on this journey. If you haven’t already, I invite you to join my free social confidence newsletter, and you’ll receive regular advice from me for improving your social confidence and social skills.

Your social life is in your hands. Make the best of it.

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What to Say to a Girl You Like

Social confidence newsletter reader Mark asks: “I would really love to know what to say to a girl I like. There is this cute girl at work who often drops by my department with various tasks. She always smiles at me and I’d very much like to talk to her, but I don’t know what to say. Would you please give me some advice?”

Well, Mike, and everyone else who wants to learn what to say to a girl, talking with a girl is not exactly rocket science. I know it may seem that way to you right now, but this is not because it’s something complicated, it’s because you’re in the wrong mindset about women.

Enter Pedestalizing

girl What to Say to a Girl You LikeAlmost every man I’ve coached who had trouble talking to women had this habit of pedestalizing women, especially the ones he finds attractive.

He will make them seem in his mind much better than they really are, almost perfect frequently, and he will put them on a pedestal way above himself. Then he will believe than he needs some special approach in talking with this girl, in order to blow her mind.

But this mindset is inaccurate. And worse, it does not work. It generates anxiety around women, coyness, needy and clumsy behavior, which ultimately makes women slip away or it drives women away.

The best approach as far as what to say to a girl goes is to talk to her like a normal person. Even if she’s very attractive, even if you like her a lot, just make casual conversation with her.

Now, if you don’t know how to talk to people in general, that’s a different issue altogether and you’ll have to learn that. However, once you know how to make conversation on the whole, that’s precisely what you’re gonna do with any girl.

Some specific things that you can do include:

  • Asking her open-ended questions to learn stuff about her;
  • Trying to relate to what she says based on your own experiences and knowledge;
  • Talking about yourself and your own life, passions, ideas, etc;
  • Bringing up conversation topics that interest you and chances are will interest her as well;
  • Being genuine in conversation and being willing to take risks.

All of these are perfectly reasonable ways to talk to a girl you like. No need for fancy lines or gimmicks. Just be a normal, relaxed conversationalist.

In order to do this though, you need to stop pedestalizing women and to develop your social confidence around women. This is the most important change you can make.

If you want to learn how to make it, then I encourage you to check out this video presentation I created, which addresses this precise topic.

In it I’ll explain in more detail what makes you insecure around women and how to become socially confident. And believe me, there is nothing more attractive and empowering than social confidence.

The Special Ingredient

All of the above considered, there is one special ingredient that you’ll want to add when talking to a girl you like, something you clearly won’t do with guys or with girls you don’t like. And that ingredient is flirting.

Flirting lets the girl know that you see her as more than just a friend and it gives the interaction a sexual vibe. If you won’t do this, she’ll probably just see you as a cool guy that she likes to chat with. Which isn’t bad, but if you fancy her it’s not how you want her to see you.

Flirting can entail a lot of things: giving her sexual compliments, talking in a sexual way with her, telling her you like her, joking around, bringing up intimate topics, strong eye-contact, initiating lots of touching, and so on.

The key however is to flirt in a confident way. You can say to a girl “You’re cute” and depending on how you say it, it may seem needy or it may turn her on. And the one variable that dictates how you say it and thus how she’ll perceive it is your level of confidence.

Confident men flirt in a bold, but detached way that other man simply can’t mimic. And this makes them exhilarating. I wish I could tell you that you can just copy this way of flirting, but like I just said, this cannot be done. Good flirting comes from within.

Again, it’s a matter of developing real confidence. Beyond having real confidence, as long as you’re willing to flirt and you understand some flirting at a basic level, you will do it well. One more reason to watch this presentation on gaining social confidence.

That’s it, really. The basic framework regarding what to say to a girl you like is quite simple. Know how to make casual conversation, flirt with her and be confident. Everything else will happen naturally.

Women will naturally respond to you and become attracted to you. You’ll have plenty of options in your dating life, if some women sporadically won’t like you it won’t matter to you at all, and you’ll enjoy a romantic life like you wouldn’t believe.

It’s up to you to make this happen.

Image courtesy of Kam

“Why Do People Stare At Me?” A Qualified Answer

I got an interesting question a few days ago from a reader of the social confidence newsletter. He noticed that very frequently, in buses, on the street, in the supermarket, while waiting in line, people look intently at him. So he asked me: “Why do people stare at me?”

It’s not that “Dang! You’re hot!” kind of stare that a very attractive woman may get, it’s more like that “Wow! You’re weird!” kind of stare.

This isn’t by any means the first time someone asks me: “Why do people stare at me?” As a social confidence coach, I get this question a lot. In this article, I’d like to provide a thorough, qualified answer to it, and show you how to amend this situation to boot.

In my experience, there are 3 major reasons why people may gape at you. In more than 95% of cases, one or more of these reasons offer the complete explanation.

1. There Is Something Quite Odd about Your Appearance

First and foremost, your appearance may be markedly bizarre, and this is what gets people’s attention and makes them gawk.

I’m not talking about the way you look physically per se. Being fat, skinny, short, bold, Asian, Indian or whatever rarely gets stares in this multifaceted society. I’m talking about the way you dress and take care of yourself.

It’s common for people who get lots of stares to be utterly careless or clueless regarding clothing, grooming and personal style.

It’s like they never look in the mirror. They go out with unkempt hair and baggy clothes, they choose horrible clothing combinations, and their overall appearance is extremely sloppy. This is what gets noticed and it often makes others gawk.

staring 300x200 “Why Do People Stare At Me?” A Qualified AnswerNext time before you go out, take a good look at yourself in the mirror. Note your clothes, their fit, your hair, your posture and your overall look. Try to observe yourself as if you’re observing another person that you’re seeing for the first time.

And notice: is something off about your appearance? Do you look eerie or unappealing in some way? If so, it’s time to start taking better care of the way you dress and present yourself visually.

You may be a very cool person on the inside, but if you dress sloppy, the first impression you create will be the very opposite of that.

2. Anxiety Is Messing Up the Message Your Project

It’s no coincidence that almost every person who perceives that others often stare at them feels nervous in social settings. Some of them have actually being diagnosed with social phobia or even AvPD.

You see, when you’re in a social setting and you feel anxiety, this will screw up your non-verbals, especially your facial expression. You’ll have this frozen, terrified look on your face, your eyes will be very wide open and your face color will likely be very pale.

This gets people’s attention and shocks them. So they’ll have the tendency to stare at you, perhaps even say to others: “Look at this guy/girl! He/she looks like they saw a ghost or something!”

Then you’ll realize others are gawking at you, which will make you self-conscious, which generates even more anxiety, so you look even more terrified, and the whole thing spirals.

In my experience, this is the most common reason why people stare at you. It is fundamentally an anxiety-related issue. And the only real solution is to deal with this root cause: to overcome your anxiety related to social settings.

Fortunately, effective, well-researched methods for overcoming anxiety exist today. Your job is to learn them and apply them.

I don’t want to go into this extensive topic here, but I do encourage you to check out this free presentation I designed, in which I cover this exact topic and I’ll show you the steps to take in order to build rock-solid social confidence. Please make sure you watch it.

3. It’s Largely Just In Your Head

It is also very possible that people in general don’t stare at you that much. No more than they stare at anybody else (yes everybody gets occasional stares), or at least not much more

However, your mind makes it seem that people stare at you all the time, when this actually occurs infrequently. What happens is that, since staring makes you feel uncomfortable, you notice it a lot and you remember it vividly.

You’re very aware of the situations when others gape at you, but completely unaware of the many situations when they don’t. This makes your mind overgeneralize and create the erroneous impression that people stare at you all the time.

Nevertheless, the reality is far from that.

This is something you can overcome by paying more attention to the situations where others do not gawk at you or they don’t even notice you, bearing them in mind, and then trying to objectively asses how frequently do others truly gawk at you.

You’ll likely find out it’s only in a small number of cases.

That’s it: my answer to the puzzling question: “why do people stare at me?” Take this info, put it into practice and see what happens. I think you’re gonna love the results you’ll achieve. And above all, work on building your social confidence. I will make the biggest difference.

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How to Talk to People

Make no mistake about it: in today’s world, knowing how to talk to people is one of the most important virtues you can possess.

If you don’t know how to talk to people it’s hard to make friends, build a social life, grab the interest of the opposite sex or get ahead in your career. But if you do, a whole lot of prospects open up in your life.

The best news I can offer you, based on 5+ years of experience as a social confidence coach, is that you can learn how to talk to people. Good conversation has principles. Know them, apply them repeatedly in social situations, and you’ll drastically boost your conversation skills.

In this article I’d like to share with you these principles and reveal the workings of good conversation. The rest is up to you.

The Conversation Formula

Basically, there are 3 major components of conversation: 1) asking questions, 2) disclosing information, and 3) changing topics. Do these 3 things right, and you’ll be able to talk to people in all sorts of social settings.

Let’s take a better look at each one of these 3 components and see how you can apply them effectively in conversation.

1. Asking Questions

Questions are the best conversational tool you have to get the other person to share information and engage in the conversation. Thus, you get to know them and their subjective world.

Many books and articles on making small talk will give you lists of questions to use in conversation and encourage you to memorize them. I disagree with this approach entirely.

How to talk to people 300x208 How to Talk to PeopleI believe questions work best when they are genuine, when they reflect an authentic curiosity you have. If you just ask about something because you think you should, but you don’t really care about it, that will usually show.

When you’re having a chat with someone, my advice is to always think about what you honestly want to know about the other person. Then ask questions based on this.

I, for instance, am very interested in people’s careers. So I often ask people I just met “What do you do?” But if you don’t really care about this stuff, by all means, don’t ask about it. Employ your own questions.

2. Sharing Information

A common mistake  that individuals who don’t comprehend how to talk to people make is they ask lots of questions to get the other person to share information, but they don’t share information themselves.

Thus, they end up bombarding their conversation partner with question after question, and the entire discussion feels more like an interrogatory.

A quality conversation combines receiving information with giving information. Even if the other person doesn’t ask you a lot of questions, don’t be afraid to disclose yourself and to share information.

For instance, if I’m on a train and the person next to me is reading a book, and I want to start a conversation with them, I might ask them “What are you reading?” After they tell me the name of the book, I might ask them “What’s it about?”

But after they answer, I usually won’t ask yet another question. Instead, I’ll make a comment apropos what they said about the book, something simple and genuine, and then I’ll tell them a bit about a book I’ve read recently and I enjoyed.

So I’ll combine asking questions with sharing information. This is what makes a conversation work.

3. Changing Topics

A 5-minute conversation can be on a single topic. But long conversations typically need to go through several topics. If you want to have long conversations, which tend to build the deepest connections with people, it’s important to move it from one topic to another.

When you feel the topic you’re discussing is drying out, don’t let the conversation die. Move it to another topic.

My rule of thumb is to try and keep the topics related. For example, after I talked with a person about books for a few minutes, it makes sense to move the conversation to movies, because it’s a related topic. And from one connect topic to another, I can take the conversation anywhere.

However, it is absolutely fine if you sometimes make big shifts in the conversation subject. For example, you move from books to “So, what do you do for a living?” That’s also a normal part of conversation. Just don’t do it every 30 seconds.

By asking questions, sharing information and changing topics, you effectively make a conversation happen. You get to know the other person, they get to know you, you cover a range of topics, and you connect with each other.

The truth is basic conversation isn’t exactly rocket science.

However, I can tell you there are plenty of people who, even after they understand these principles thoroughly, still have a hard time talking to others. Add it’s not a problem related to lack of knowledge, it’s a problem related to conversation confidence.

Building Conversation Confidence

You can have questions to ask, yet not ask them because you fret you’ll come across as rude or impertinent. You can have things to say but not say them because you fear they’re not interesting. And you can have topics you want to talk about but not do so because you worry you’ll make a fool of yourself somehow.

You see, knowing how to talk to people and being able to talk to people are two very different things.

You can understand the rules and principles, but if you have fears like the ones I mentioned (which are usually unfounded), you’ll hesitate, you won’t say very much, you’ll stumble over your words when you do, and your conversations will still be sloppy.

The only solution to this problem is to overcome your limiting beliefs and build conversation confidence. This transformation is what you should focus on above all.

Since this is a huge subject, I have created a special presentation in which I’m gonna teach you how to do this. Check it out here and learn the secrets of conversation confidence.

Then take the know-how gained from it and make use of it in your own life.

When you have positive beliefs about yourself and you’re confident, you don’t second-guess yourself, you instinctively know what to say, you are natural and you are willing to take risks in social interactions.

At the end of the day, this is what gives you the ability to talk to people effortlessly and build the relationships you want with others.

Image courtesy of Brandon Christopher Warren

Things to Talk About

Things to talk about Things to Talk AboutA conversation is basically an exchange of information on various topics between two or more people. When the content and form of the conversation are appropriate, people connect with each other. Having good things to talk about plays a big role here.

When you have good things to talk about with somebody, either a guy or a girl, it’s easier to keep the conversation going, make it interesting and create a positive connection.

As a social confidence coach, I often work with people who struggle with identifying the best things to talk about, which feeds their anxiety about making conversation.

So I want to share with you the best things to talk about that I know.

Good Things to Talk About With Anybody

There are some conversation topics that cannot fail. Almost every person will have something to say on these topics and they are suitable for many situations: a first date, a party, a coffee with friends, a business networking event, etc.

These topics form the acronym F.O.R.D., which is an excellent way to remember them so you can bring them up in a conversation. Here’s what it means:

F stands for Family. Ask the other person about their family: if they’re married (not on a date though), if they have kids, or how are things at home for them if you know them for a while. Talk about your family situation as well.

O stands for Occupation. This is one of my favorite things to talk about. You can ask the other person what they do for a living, how they got in their particular field or what they like about it. You can also disclose your own career situation.

R stands for Recreation. This is a very big topic, which offers many possibilities. Ask the other person what they do for fun, or what hobbies they have. Bring up your recreational activities as well, and discover your common interests if they exist.

D stands for Dreams. This is where you talk about future plans or goals. Anything from “Where do you see your career going in the future?” to “What do you want to do in your next vacation?” goes.

These topics can go hand in hand and it’s easy to jump from one to another; like from occupation to dreams and from dreams to recreation. This dynamic is what helps the conversation be fluid and engaging.

For more practical advice on making a conversation engaging, watch this presentation I have designed.

When In Rome…

You know that old adage: when in Rome do as the Romans do? It applies a lot to conversation and finding the best things to talk about with somebody.

The context you meet a person in leaves clues about their interests. And their interests give you interesting things to talk about.

For instance, if you meet a person at an art gallery, they probably like art. So it’s a good idea to ask them what exhibits they like the most at that gallery, or what kind of art they like the most.

It’s pretty straightforward for a person to get pleasure from a conversation when they talk about the things they love to talk about.

Plus, the more you converse with a person, the better an idea you get about their specific interests, and then you can navigate the conversation towards the topics related to those interests.

The key is to first be curious about how a person’s overall life looks life, and to ask questions using the F.O.R.D. model. Then, as you have a clearer picture of their lifestyle, you can infer the specific conversation topics that person enjoys the most.

Remove the Obstacles

There is one thing that all people who frequently don’t know what to talk about with others have in common.

It’s not that they’re not intelligent enough to figure out what to talk about, it’s that they have a flawed mindset.

They may think that they always need to find the perfect things to talk about, that they must always impress or that others won’t enjoy conversing with them if they just talk about the things that naturally pop into their head.

They are often shy and anxious in social settings, and struggling with finding things to talk about is merely a symptom of that.

For this reason, it’s imperative to remove these internal blocks. Work on identifying and eliminating your limiting beliefs, as well as boosting your social confidence.

I have created a special presentation that will show you the exact steps you need to take in order to overcome your limiting beliefs and develop your social confidence. Make sure you check it out.

Once you get these obstacles out of the way, you will always have subjects to talk about and naturally make conversation fun. Confidence is the propeller that will make banter run effortlessly, make you astonish others, and make your social life thrive.

Equipped with the essential knowledge I just gave concerning the right things to talk about, plus a solid dose of social confidence, you can enjoy meaningful interactions with others in any situation.

Image courtesy of Ktoine 

6 Signs That You’re Socially Awkward and How to Fix This

If social interactions don’t go for you as well as you would like and you sometimes tend to put your foot in your mouth during conversations, you may be asking yourself: “Am I socially awkward?

Drawing from my experience as a social confidence coach, I want to explain the characteristics of socially awkward people and help you comprehend if you are socially awkward or not, as well as show you what to do about it.

The Profile of Socially Awkward People

Socially awkward persons possess a set of distinctive traits. The more of these traits you have and the larger their degree, the higher on the social awkwardness scale you’re likely to be. Here they are:

1. Feeling nervous in social settings. The typical socially awkward person doesn’t feel comfortable in social situations. They are anxiety producing.

This is one of the main factors that often make them behave in weird ways around other people. Nervousness leads to a creepy demeanor, and realizing that your demeanor is creepy creates even more nervousness, so we have an ongoing negative cycle.

2. Not understanding social norms. Often when I talk with a socially awkward person, they tell me they often don’t know what’s appropriate for them to do and what’s not in a social situation.

They don’t know how is it OK to start a conversation, what conversation topics is it best to talk about and when, or what is it suited to joke about and what is it not. Obviously, this lack of understanding can lead to either weird or shy behavior.

3. Often having a different impact than intended. It’s common for socially awkward people to joke about something and others to find the joke uncalled for, or to try and give a compliment, only for it to come off in a distasteful way.

In other words, they intend to generate one result, and they end up generating a totally different one. This mismatch is a sign of a deficiency of social calibration.

4. The lack of conversation flow. Everybody has conversations that don’t flow, have awkward silences or end abruptly. But for socially awkward people, this is the rule, not the exception.

Their conversations are habitually like a rough wagon ride on a bumpy country road.

5. Frequently being avoided or ridiculed by others. If others actively try to dodge interactions with you, or they often mock you during them, they probably see you as the weird person in the group.

And if they see you this way, it can be a sign that your social behavior is awkward and makes it easy to attract the derision of others.

Socially awkward 6 Signs That Youre Socially Awkward and How to Fix This6. The lack of meaningful connections with others. Since they struggle with making conversation, feeling at ease around others and expressing themselves effectively, socially awkward people typically lack strong connections with others.

They generally have few friends, if any, and a very small social circle. They spend a lot of time alone and to say their social life is less than fulfilling is an understatement.

OK. These are the 6 distinctive traits of socially awkward individuals. Taking them into consideration, this is a good moment to ask yourself again “Am I socially awkward?”

If The Conclusion Is “I Am Socially Awkward”

If the conclusion of this self-assessment is that you are socially awkward, this is likely an issue with a visible negative impact on your life. You could have much better relationships and be a lot happier if you deal with this effectively. I have three essential pieces of advice I can offer you.

The first and most important is to develop your social confidence. To a very large extent, social awkwardness is produced by shyness and anxiety in social settings.

When you’re anxious, you can’t think straight, you stumble, bumble and fumble around, and thus you embarrass yourself. Work on improving your social confidence, and I promise you that most of this will take care of itself.

Check out this free presentation I’ve created to learn how to eliminate anxiety and boost your social confidence.

The second advice is to learn the basic social norms. The basic principles of social interactions can be learned from books, courses or socially savvy people. Knowing them and applying them will aid you adjust your social behavior to the situation.

However, beyond the basic principles, everything else can only be learned through experience. No other person can tell you exactly what to do and say during a social interaction.

This is why the third advice is to gain lots of experience interacting with others. Meet new people, make conversation, experiment, notice the results and fine-tune your behavior accordingly.

In time, this real-life social experience will transform you from socially awkward to socially intelligent. And of course, a huge part of the nerve to do all this socializing comes, again, from developing your social confidence.

If you want to discover exactly how you can do this, make sure you watch my social confidence presentation.

Fortunately, overcoming social awkwardness is absolutely possible, no matter who you are. You can become a socially calibrated person who makes conversation effortlessly, has awesome friends and enjoys a great social life.

The key is to use focus on achieving this with determination, seek the best advice available and implement it.

Image courtesy of DaveAustria.com

How to Improve Conversation Skills

2565606353 d2c7001e2c How to Improve Conversation Skills

I see conversation as the glue that sticks people together. If you pay attention to how people bond, socialize and build partnerships, you’ll notice that it’s done mostly through the art of conversation.

It’s a very big surprise to me that throughout most of our formal education, we don’t learn how to improve conversation skills, because I believe they are some of the top skills one can have in our society.

Going beyond formal education, I find most books and courses on how to improve conversation skills to be crammed with platitudes and simplistic advice.

Since in my work as a social confidence coach I help my clients apply effective ways to improve conversation skills, I’m going to share with you the key action steps that, in time, I’ve noticed to contribute the most to mastering conversation.

Start with Conversation Confidence

The majority of persons who contact me and tell me they lack conversation skills, I usually find out upon a thorough inspection that first and foremost, they lack conversation confidence.

It’s not that they don’t have something to say or they don’t know how to converse; it’s that they lack the confidence to do so. They’re afraid they’ll say the wrong thing, come off as awkward or make fools of themselves. Thus, they end up being coy in social interactions.

Many times, 80% of their problem would be solved if they would get conversation confidence. But since they misdiagnose their situation, they seek to learn how to improve conversation skills instead, and they alienate themselves in this quest.

Banner 728x90 How to Improve Conversation Skills

If you lack conversation confidence, start by getting this handled. Your lack of confidence is based on perfectionism and limiting beliefs, and it is in fact the primary cause of conversational deficiency. Change your thinking; your conversation skills will follow.

Because there are a lot of things to be said on this, I have a free conversation confidence guide for you in which I’ll teach you a 3-step process to become confident in conversations. Go here to get it.

Get More Social

I frequently hear people who struggle in their social interactions saying that they want to learn how to improve their conversation skills so they can then go out and socialize more. They believe if they just get the right techniques, the social animal within them will come out.

In reality, it works exactly the other way around. You go out more, despite your shortage (real or imagined) of conversation skills, you participate in social activities, you interact with lots of people, you make conversation, and as you do so, your skills sharpen.

This may be an uncomfortable reality because in entails that you face your shyness and socialize more, but it’s the only viable option. The primary way to sharpen your social skills is exposure to social situations.

This exposure, along with a constructive mindset, will gradually make your conversation style self-regulate and it will become more engaging, charismatic and powerful. It’s mostly a matter of practice and desire.

Balance the Energy

Think of a conversation as an exchange of energy. Well, whenever such an exchange takes place, balance is always important. You want the energy going one way to match the energy going the other.

This balance is often the missing ingredient in discussions between two people. In many conversations:

  • One person does most of the talking, while the other does most of the listening;
  • One person is whining, while the other is providing support;
  • One person is the entertainer, while the other is the entertained.

Whenever I see or I am in a conversation like that, I feel like there’s something missing and the social dynamic there is not sustainable.

Like most things in life, good conversation implies balance. It is through balancing the energy in discussions that you become able to make them fruitful for both/all the persons involved.

Master Self-Expression

From my perspective, the better you become at communicating opinions, feelings and experiences using language, the more interesting conversation you can make.

Again, confidence plays a big role. So, make sure to check out my free conversation confidence guide to get this area handled.

I find that many people have a very generic and vague way of expressing themselves. They talk in clichés, and they don’t put the richness of their inner world into the outer world. They may be really interesting people, but because they lack in verbal skills, few others ever find out.

Practice expressing yourself with words. Paint vivid and rich pictures in the minds of your audience, using words. This is something I’ve focused on mastering in many of my public speaking experiences and I can tell you that it’s just a matter of practice, repetition and persistence.

With the four conversation pillars above in place, making artful conversation is not hard at all. It’s easy, fun and something you look forward to every day.

In the process of learning how to improve your conversation skills, keep these pillars in mind and give them priority. They will take you and your social life very far.

Image courtesy of moriza