Covid Killed Your Social Skills?
I don’t know about you but since covid and lockdowns and a lack of socialising. Interacting with people just does not flow as easily as it once did and can often feel fairly awkward. I have noticed this amongst friends and others around me as well. So, I thought I would share some tips on how to get back into the swing of engaging in effective conversations.
When you watch a lot of the things going on, you can see that we are becoming more polarised then ever. Unless people find someone that agrees with their way of thinking and their opinions, things can easily break out into an argument. It seems that people would rather talk and be in control, shouting from the rooftops their opinions and if you disagree with them, then you are the moron. Learning to have good conversations is a skill. The biggest skill to learn is to simply just listen. We have forgotten how to listen.
So, for those of you who have lost some of those key conversation skills since this pandemic and are perhaps dealing with some social anxiety, here are some key tips to have effective conversations.
Be interested in other people. Enter each of your conversations assuming that you are about to learn something. If you are a regular reader of my articles you will know how much I talk about how everyone sees the world differently. If you stop to listen and learn from others, without the need to always interject your point of view, you may just learn and observe something really interesting.
Do not multi-task. We live such busy lives, and we rarely have the chance to shut off. We engage in conversations with people while we are also in conversation with other people on our phone. You know you can not fully pay attention doing that. Or we are sp busy up in our heads so doing something else, that we are not fully engaged with the person in front of us. Perhaps just stop and breathe and pay attention to the conversation you are a part of.
Do not be afraid to really express yourself. Do you know what I see most when I look around in social interactions? People afraid to just be themselves. They are trying to keep up with who they think they need to present themselves to be. People not having truly deep and meaningful conversations. It is so often all about surface talk, where people are not actually getting to know each other. The more you allow yourself to just be you, the more you give other people permission to do the same.
Do you know what I crave when I go out and meet people? Having real and open conversations with people. Talking with people who are not afraid to let someone in on who they actually are. I notice that people can be so disconnected from each other but I see this as a result of people being disconnected from themselves.
Be present in the moment. You know those old-school tips on how to have effective conversations? Nod your head, respond in aggrievance, look like you are paying attention? Did you know if you are actually paying attention, you do not have to make an effort to make those gestures? They will actually just be happening. Be present when you are having conversations with people, be engaged and inspired in what is being discussed.
One of the more important tips is that, when people are sharing with you a life experience, maybe something difficult they are dealing with, you do not need to relate it to something you have been through and start talking about that. I see this mistake a lot and I have made it myself. When people are opening up to you, they do not need you to take over the conversation by talking about yourself. They need a listening ear and someone to validate what they are going through by just engaging with them in that moment.
I know a lot of the time we would rather talk, be the centre of attention, and be the one in control. But, when you are doing that, how much are you learning? How much are you connecting with the people around you? If you find yourself at the end of a social event coming home and feeling like you haven’t connected with anyone. Ask yourself how much time you spent truly listening and getting to know those around you. Compared to how much time you spent all up in your head, listening for the sole purpose of wanting to reply, not understand, and not being present in the conversations you were having. Listening is one of the key skills to effective communication and it is a skill we are forgetting.
Next time you are in a social situation and you find yourself feeling awkward remember these tips. Ask people open-ended questions, who, what, why, how. When I was a hairdresser that was one of the first things they really drummed into us, the beauty of open-ended questions keeping a conversation flowing. What is one thing you can do this week to improve your conversation skills?