Talk Is Cheap: How to Practice More the Ideas You Believe In

One thing I find exciting about today’s world is that we have more and more access to more and more rational, well-documented and practical ideas, which a lot of us are keenly accepting. We’re going through a veritable second Age of Enlightenment.

However, it’s one thing to believe in a good idea at a conscious level, it’s a totally other thing to live by that idea every day. It’s much harder to practice an idea consistently than it is to agree with it and talk about it. Which is why you’ll often find a big gap between what people claim to believe and what their actual behavior reflects.

Take the case of minimalist living: lots of folks are getting wise to the fact that the relentless pursuit of stuff won’t make them happy, and they give considerable credence to the idea of a low-consumption lifestyle with other priorities than acquiring stuff. Many of them are quite vocal about this too.

I think it’s great that the notion of minimalist living is catching on. Nevertheless, it’s much easier to proclaim you believe in it than it is to live by it. So you’ll often find people who state they believe in a low-consumption life, yet they change their phone every 6 months, their car every 2 years, and they have a wastefully big house, crammed with stuff they rarely use. And many of them fail to see the duplicity in this.

As a coach, I regularly help others practice consistently ideas they believe in and they know can transform their life, to make them a part of the very fabric of their personality. I’d like to show you some ways to do this that have worked very well both for me and my coaching clients.

1. Live More Consciously 

The more you pay conscious attention to your thoughts and your behavior, the easier it is to spot inconsistencies between the ideas you believe in and the way you act. Then you can make deliberate changes to close this gap. This is what I call living consciously.

Most of us rarely live consciously. We mostly live in reaction; we are impulsively driven by obligations such as work or house chores, and by distractions such as television, advertising, fast food, and funny YouTube videos. It will take work to be more mindful of how you live, moment by moment, and take charge of your behavior. But it’s worth it.


2. Carve Out Specific Actions for Yourself 

Often when we discover a good idea, we decide to adopt it, and then we stop there. We think that decision alone will change our behavior and align it with that idea; which rarely happens. In order for your behavior to change, it’s crucial to come up with specific actions to carry out, and then do them regularly.

For example, say you decide it’s a good idea for you to be more social. You can then come up with specific ways to be more social; like going out to social events at least 3 times per week, or talking to at least 3 new people at each social event you go to. These kind of specific, actionable goals turn good ideas into practical behavioral changes.

3. Overcome the Emotional Barriers 

Frequently you may want to implement a certain idea but have problems because of emotional obstacles. Going back to the example above, you may wanna be more social, but you may be afraid of talking to new people or feel anxious in social situations. Such emotions will make it hard to genuinely come out of your shell.

So you’ll have to work on overcoming these insecurities in order to be able to change your behavior. Since this is a broad and important topic, I’m not gonna go into details on it here.

Instead, I’ve created a separate instructional presentation in which I’ll show you with clear explanations how to overcome your anxieties, especially the ones you may have in social settings. I’ve helped literally thousands of people with this issue, I’m sure I can help you too. Go here to watch the presentation.

4. Ask For Feedback 

Other people can often see things about your conduct that you are oblivious to, because they have an external perspective on you. So to better align your behavior with your beliefs, it’s a good idea to tell others about the kind of beliefs you wanna implement in your life, and ask them for honest feedback when they think your behavior is off track.

Pick people you trust to be honest and levelheaded to help you with this, and who genuinely care about you. Sometimes their feedback will be a hard pill to swallow, but it’s just the right medicine.

5. Have Someone Help You Stay Accountable 

It’s always important to hold yourself accountable for your actions. But it’s even better if there is another person to keep your accountable in addition: someone who aids you set personal development goals, someone you report back to on your progress, someone who gives you and extra dose of motivation, focus and guidance to keep going.

A competent coach, counselor or psychologist is probably the best person for such a task. They will have the skills to properly oversee your personal development and help you stay committed to your goals. So if you wanna align your behavior with your beliefs as fast and as much as possible, this is definitely an option to consider.

For more help from me in changing your behavior (especially in social situations) and becoming the person you wanna be, I recommend you join my free social success newsletter.

Ultimately, when you practice what you preach, when you align your actions and your whole being with the ideas you consciously believe in, you are a person of integrity. It’s not only something to feel very proud of, but also a great path towards success and happiness.

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

criticI 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.

Image courtesy of jontintinjordan

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.

Part1: 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.

Step 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.

I 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.

Step 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.

Step 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.

Part 2: 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

A 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 

How to Make Small Talk

Many people don’t know how to make small talk. Often, these people are busy, results-oriented individuals, they have big goals and they don’t see the point of making small talk.

Thus, there is a double challenge I’m going to address here: not only clarifying how to makes small talk with style, but also what is it’s precise significance in social situations and interactions.

Why Making Small Talk Matters

Small talk is often seen as meaningless conversation motivated by social politeness: It lacks meaning and value, but you do it because that’s the proper thing. Well, I couldn’t disagree more with this idea.

In my definition, small talk is conversation on safe and somewhat superficial subjects (the weather, the news, the hottest movies or the latest fashion), but it is not meaningless conversation.

Personally, I’ve learned to stay away from meaningless conversation. If I don’t enjoy it and don’t find significance in it, I do one of two things: I change the subject or I eject. Other than the topic, there is nothing small about small talk and this is why knowing how to make small talk matters as a people skill.

Before anything else, you need to realize that if you struggle with making small talk, it’s to a large extent a confidence issue. People who are confident in social interactions are naturally able to make small talk and connect with others.

So one way or another, you’ll need to get this handled. My conversation confidence presentation will provide you a solid foundation for this. So check it out here for free and learn the secrets to being a confident conversationalist. It’s loaded with practical advice.

Keep It Meaningful

Making small talk makes a lot of sense with people you’ve just met. Imagine asking a person you know for 30 seconds: “So, how’s you sex life?” That is waaay too intrusive! Small talk on the other hand provides a method to ease into the discussion.

When I make small talk, the subjects may be superficial for comfort, but they’re subjects I care about and I approach in straightforward manner, staying away from clichés. This way, I make the discussion meaningful for me and frequently, as a result, for the other person.

Even if I’ll chat with a person I’ve just met about the weather, I’ll make the conversation meaningful. For example, if it’s winter I’ll mention how I don’t like the cold weather, how it probably has something to do with the fact I was born in mid-summer and how I can’t wait for the summer and the sunny beach.

Focus on what is interesting as a topic and on what is real within you. You’ll make the talk fun even though you keep it small.

Have a Life

It’s easy to make small talk when you have a lot of things to chat about. One key realization I had as a social confidence coach is that people who know how to make small talk well have a rich inner and especially outer life.

Conversation is for them just a matter of expressing that. It’s much harder to make small talk well when all you do is work a repetitive job or play on the computer all day.

A rich lifestyle creates content and it helps you engage others. If you don’t have one, it’s time to create it: read, travel, try new things, take on various hobbies, do some charity work and of course, socialize. Not only that this will help your conversations, but it will make your whole life a lot more rewarding as well.

Care about the Vibe More Than About the Topic

A conversation is much more than an exchange of facts and ideas. It is an exchange of energy. What many people miss is that when you know how to make small talk, it means you can create a positive exchange of energy.

The topic is just an excuse, so it doesn’t have to be a deep topic. When I’m out with my friends, we’ll spend hours talking about clothes, pubs, scooters or trends. And we’ll have a blast because the vibe of the entire interaction is positive and relaxed.

When you’re making small talk, you want to focus more on being friendly and positive than on picking the right topic or saying the right things. Smile, relax, joke around, be spontaneous and be silly.

Remember that your vibe comes mainly from your attitude, and watch this instructional presentation I created, as it will give you a sensible guide to improving your confidence in social interactions.

Don’t Get Stuck In Small Talk

Last but not least, keep in mind that small talk is not a destination. It’s just a temporary station. If an interaction with a person goes well, do move the conversation to deeper and more personal topics.

You can talk about topics such as family and relationships, career plans, life goals, challenges and so on. You now find yourself in a new land: the land of big talk.

Ultimately, a strong bond between two people is created when they talk about the most meaningful things, in the most meaningful way. Conversation is very much like a journey into a mysterious forest, and a deeper you go in it, the more intriguing it gets.

I believe that knowing how to make small talk is one of the key people skills to master. From there, if you also know how to have charisma and engage others in more intimate conversation, you can get outstanding results with people and you can build a highly fulfilling social life for yourself.

Image courtesy of Ivan Makarov

How Confident People Talk

I’m listening to the audio version of Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. So far, it’s a fascinating book and I have an intuition it only gets better. One thing I like about the characters in Ayn Rand’s novels is how they are constructed in epic proportions. Some of them are pure models of confidence, dedication and rational living.

Here is one piece of dialog in the book I wanted to share. It’s a part of the first discussion between Hank Rearden and Francisco d’Anconia. And I think it’s a great example of how two very confident people talk (especially follow Francisco d’Anconia).

He stood there for a while, leaning on a sense of privacy as if it were a physical support.

“Mr. Rearden,” said a strangely quiet voice beside him, “permit me to introduce myself. My name is d’Anconia.”

Rearden turned, startled; d’Anconia’s manner and voice had a quality he had seldom encountered before: a tone of authentic respect.

“How do you do,” he answered. His voice was brusque and dry; but he had answered.

“I have observed that Mrs. Rearden has been trying to avoid the necessity of presenting me to you, and I can guess the reason. Would you prefer that I leave your house?”

The action of naming an issue instead of evading it, was so unlike the usual behavior of all the men he knew, it was such a sudden, startling relief, that Rearden remained silent for a moment, studying d’Anconia’s face. Francisco had said it very simply, neither as a reproach nor a plea, but in a manner which, strangely, acknowledged Rearden’s dignity and his own.

“No,” said Rearden, “whatever else you guessed, I did not say that.”

“Thank you. In that case, you will allow me to speak to you.”

“Why should you wish to speak to me?”

“My motives cannot interest you at present.”

“Mine is not the sort of conversation that could interest you at all.”

“You are mistaken about one of us, Mr. Rearden, or both. I came to this party solely in order to meet you.”

There had been a faint tone of amusement in Rearden’s voice; now it hardened into a hint of contempt. “You started by playing it straight. Stick to it.”

“I am.”

“What did you want to meet me for? In order to make me lose money?”

Francisco looked straight at him. “Yes – eventually.”

“What is it, this time? A gold mine?”

Francisco shook his head slowly; the conscious deliberation of the movement gave it an air that was almost sadness. “No,” he said, “I don’t want to sell you anything. As a matter of fact, I did not attempt to sell the copper mine to James Taggart, either. He came to me for it. You won’t.”

Rearden chuckled. “If you understand that much, we have at least a sensible basis for conversation. Proceed on that. If you don’t have some fancy investment in mind, what did you want to meet me for?”

“In order to become acquainted with you,”

“That’s not an answer. It’s just another way of saying the same thing.”

“Not quite, Mr. Rearden.”

“Unless you mean – in order to gain my confidence?”

“No. I don’t like people who speak or think in terms of gaining anybody’s confidence. If one’s actions are honest, one does not need the predated confidence of others, only their rational perception. The person who craves a moral blank check of that kind, has dishonest intentions, whether he admits it to himself or not.”

How many people do you know with the skills and confidence to talk like that in real life? I certainly wish I would see more.