When we start sentences with “I” instead of ‘you, the conversation can turn from blame into an invitation to communicate. The classic model here to try is “I feel ______ when you _____.” “You make me feel bad”, which is blame, becomes “I feel bad when you talk to me with an angry voice.”
Can you see how the first one pushes someone away, and the other one invites them to ask you more about how you feel? Or to discuss ways you can get along better?
We don’t communicate just with words but with the our body language.
If you always have your arms crossed and shoulders hunched, you are giving people the message you don’t want to connect with them. So they might be tuning you out.
You might find mirroring helpful. It’s been found that if we posture like the other person, they unconsciously feel more comfortable. So if they lean back in their seat, lean back in yours. If they stand in a wide stance, widen yours. Of course don’t make this too obvious, but it can be fun to try.
Eye contact comes into play here. Maintaining appropriate amounts of it can also keep the other person engaged. Notice if your problem might be a lack of it.
3. Focus on similarities and positives.
If we think that nobody likes us, or that we are too different to be interesting, we will unconsciously give off this message in the way we talk and move. Others will respond to thiscore beliefby treating us in exactly the ways that confirm it. And so the cycle continues.
A simple trick here is to focus on the similarities and positives between you and everyone else you meet. Then try to keep them lightly in your mind for the duration of the conversation. It can be as simple as noticing their eyes being the same colour, that you know you share a hobby, or that you like the blue shirt they are wearing.
What you say isn’t necessarily who you are. If you were raised in a household where the adults around you always complained and pointed out what was wrong, it might be you learned to speak negatively instead of in a well-rounded way.
The very best way to have others interested in what you have to say? Learn to listen well first. Cultivate a real interest in others and what they have to say, and they will want to know what you have to say.
Another way to practice active listening is to ask good questions. When we ask a useful question people know we have heard what they shared and they also see we care about what they are saying. Learn how in our article, “How to Ask Good Questions.”
This might mean a short mindfulness break before you meet someone, or simply bringing your attention to your breathing and your body during conversations.
This can help you slow down and speak more clearly as well as interrupt less.
7. Work through your emotions in advance.
Are you always approaching conversations with anger, or when you are emotional? This can be overwhelming for others who then tune you out.
A good self-help tool here is to get some paper and write out your emotions before you go meet people. Promise yourself to rip up whatever you write afterwards. This lets your unconscious feel safe to release pent up feelings. Keep writing, without censoring what comes out or trying to make it legible, until you feel the emotions die down.