We welcome you the ultimate guide to improving your communication skills.
If you’re interested in improving communication skills you’ve come to the right place.
Most likely it’s been challenging to start or maintain a conversation. Maybe you’re not able to confidently communicate your thoughts at work.
But, whatever it is, we’re excited and very happy to offer you a guide where you’ll have real examples, actionable strategies, and resources to improve your communication skills.
We want to help you make a great first impression, overcome those awkward moments, and become more confident in any social situation.
So let’s get started!
We’re going to give you the 5 steps to improve communication skills. If you want to know exactly what to do, here it is.
- Rewire your mindset
- Develop relational skills
- Create conversation starters
- Carry the conversation beyond small talk
- End or extend the conversation
Here’s the visual too. The key ingredients for improving your communication skills:
I can easily list 20 or 50 or even 100 ways to improve your communication skills, but lists won’t really help you much.
What I’ll give you are actionable items, examples, pro tips, and methods you can put into practice every day to improve communication skills.
Let’s start with the first step.
#1. The first step to improving communication skills: Rewire your mindset.
The first step in improving communication is knowing that it starts before even before you even speak. This means it starts in your mind.
I repeat the first step to improve your communication skills starts in your mind.
It’s important to learn how to manage your mind. It’s the mentality you carry with yourself every day that affects your confidence to speak with people.
When we talk about rewiring your mindset, we’re talking about the psychology of your thoughts. They can hold you back from reaching your potential, especially in communicating.
Improving your mindset, and positively changing how you think about yourself can significantly transform how you have conversations or present yourself to people.
We’ve all had days when we talk to ourselves negatively:
“I’m not good enough”
“I can’t do this.”
“I’m so awkward, I can talk to anyone!”
“My mind goes blank. I can’t go up to that person.”
We’ve all been here before. It feels terrible.
When you talk to yourself like this, you’re setting yourself up for pre-failure. This means you reduce your chances of having good conversations and meeting good people.
Actionable task: Become more aware of your thoughts. Write two positive affirmations that can help you feel more confident.
Your positive thoughts assist you in moving forward in the right direction. Positive expectations can lead you to improved outcomes is frequently called the “Pygmalion effect” after the Greek mythology protagonist of the same name.
Your expectations in conversation matters. See the diagram below.
If you expect an awkwardness at your next social event it’s almost guaranteed that will be the outcome. If you expect good conversations with people who are compatible and want to get to know you, that will be the positive outcome you will have.
Protip: Your expectations will be the outcome.
Start changing your expectations. This small tweak in your mindset will lead to improving communication skills and you’re conversations will be more positive, helping you improve your communication skills.
#2. Develop relational skills: The skills you need to be liked.
So, what are relational skills??
It’s simple. It’s how well we relate to other people.
Relational skills are when …
We express genuine care and concern.
It’s being patient.
It’s about asking great questions and asking someone’s perspective.
And, it’s providing reactions and candid opinions.
The next big question is …
How can you learn and increase your relational skills?
You start with understanding and learning about charisma.
Most of us know someone who has charisma, or you at least have a few friends you’d call charismatic.
From the moment they walk into the room, people are attracted to them. They carry themselves with a certain confidence and have a positive demeanor.
High-level charismatic people are easy-going, friendly, self-assured, and they can usually tell a great story. They’re sometimes the life of the party, making everyone around them feel good.
If you want to be that person, well, you’re not alone.
My next question is … do you think you can learn to be more charismatic or likable?? Think for a second…..yes or no…
Yes. You can absolutely learn charisma!
But let us define it first.
In our opinion, Charisma is the ability to relate, attract, and influence people. It’s to be well-liked and accepted by others as someone who is interesting and pleasant to be around.
To go even further, we pulled some research from the University of Tennessee of Knoxville which says,
“If you want people to perceive you as charismatic, you need to display attributes such as empathy, good listening skills, eye contact, enthusiasm, self-confidence and skillful speaking,” he said. Those are the attributes social scientists can measure to more fully understand charismatic communication.”
Boom! That’s it.
But please keep in mind we’re all on a spectrum of charisma which means some of us are more charismatic than others but we all have the potential to improve.
If you think you’re ready to improve your communication skills and charisma today, learn more about our course, Next Level Conversation.
One behavior you can easily understand and include in your daily conversations is very simple. People who are charismatic have one thing that separates themselves from the majority of people …
They’re GENUINELY interested in EVERYONE they meet.
Actionable task: Start to be more curious about people. Talk to three people today and get to know them on a deeper level. Do it by asking better questions.
Being genuine goes a long way. It helps the other person feel more comfortable and relatable to you. Always try to find a connection or something in common, and be sincerely curious about the other person.
Watch how likable you become just because you listened and asked questions.
Charismatic people dive deep into who they’re talking to. They’re very good at asking questions that make people feel important.
Protip: Charisma is a learnable skill. But, with anything in life, you must practice the right behaviors.
Dale Carnegie said it best, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
#3. Improve communication skills using conversation starters.
So, at this point, we’ve learned about creating the right mindset, understanding relational skills, and tips on how to become likable and charismatic.
Everything thing you learned so far will give you more confidence to start conversations and improve communication skills.
Here in step #3, I want to talk about conversation starters. (In our course, Next Level Conversation, you get a 10-page script of conversation starters. Learn more here.)
Learning conversation starters will help you transform awkward or forced conversations into interesting, very pleasant conversations.
Below is a diagram which gives you a good idea of what words to use to start and open up the conversation.
Having a variety of conversation starters ready to go will help you form connections with co-workers, customers, partners, or anyone you meet at a social event. This will translate into more opportunities and more meaningful relationships in your life.
Actionable task: Start your next conversation with “safe” topics or “feeler” questions to build momentum.
“Safe” topics or “feelers”, giving you an idea about who the person is or what their personality is like. Using “safe” questions will also give you an idea of which direction you can take the conversation in.
An example of a safe (but wise and effective) introduction would be:
“Hey, it’s great to meet you. I’m Joe. How are you?” Or, “How’s your day going?”
This is a good place to start because it’s an extremely basic and a common question. It’s simple, and it invites the other person to potentially open up about their experiences.
If they do share their events of the day, you can pull or “thread the conversation together” from what they’ve said to use for the next part of the conversation. This helps you create a connection and you start to build momentum.
If they don’t share their experiences or feelings. You can still dig a little with more straight forward open-ended conversation starters such as:
“What’s your day been like? or “tell me about your day”.
These two open-ended questions can help you discover more about the person, who they are, what their struggles have been, or simply finding things in common.
Another great conversation starter you can ask someone you haven’t met is:
“Hey, it’s great to meet you. I’m John. I’m happy we’ve finally met.”
You might be thinking, this isn’t a question, and you’re right, but a unique strategy you can try to open up dialogue.
Protip: You don’t always have to be responsible for creating conversation. Both people are responsible and it should be a consistent loop when it’s a great conversation. Give the other person some room to build a dialogue and momentum.
#4. Learn to carry the conversation and you’ll be able to speak to anyone.
Carrying a conversation can be a daunting task.
Sometimes we run out of things to say and it becomes awkward, and your mind goes blank. If you can’t deal with silence (which is very hard to do) you should improve your small talk.
We should never underestimate the influence of small talk.
If you become a better small talker, you’ll be golden.
Small talk plays a vital role in establishing relationships, whether that relationship happens to be in a social setting or in a professional one.
Small talk is important because the simple topics are the ones that initiate deeper conversations.
Carrying conversations and small talk is like dancing. At first, you’re unsure if you should do it because you’re nervous, and your afraid people watching might judge you- but once you get warmed up, you feel confident and can keep going.
That’s what small talk is. Getting the conversation ready for a deeper and more meaningful discussion. This is an essential part of carrying a conversation.
Small talk usually begins with general topics such as the weather, sports, where you’re from, work and school. Those things can tell us a lot about who the other person is.
It allows you to evaluate another person and what their story is. It can reveal a lot, such as if they are whiny, sad, or happy, a positive person, judgmental, or a potential friend or client.
Actionable task: Start small talk with a few universal topics such as the weather, current news, sports and entertainment.
These are usually safe small talk topics, but not everyone follows sports, or entertainment news, so you can, try to match people’s interests. You can do this by simply listening.
What’s being said in the moment or from past conversations? If you hear them talking about a current event or weekend adventure, speak up if you can add value. Or, bring up a story you just heard or an article you read recently.
Small talk should be a big part of the conversation. Practice this and it will propel your conversation skills to another level.
Here are 5 examples and ideas you can use for small talk:
- “Good morning! I’m Sasha since I see you every day here at the office I wanted to introduce myself.”
- “Hey! What do you think of the weather today? It’s definitely a beach day.”
- “What did you think of the NBA finals last night? Great game.”
- “Hey Tyler, how are things like at the accounting department today?”
- “Hey! I’m really looking forward to drinks after work today. I hear Sasha will be coming with us too!”
Protip: Small talk is digging and listening for information to build the conversation.
These are great examples you can use or change based upon who you’re talking to.
#5. End or Extend The Conversation. Decide if you like them or not.
This is where we’re going to learn how to properly move on from the conversation and properly establishing a connection at the end of a conversation.
To ending the conversation can be just as hard or as awkward as starting a conversation.
But, how do you move on from a conversation because you want to talk to other people or the conversation is dead?
Actionable task: Decide if you want to continue a conversation or if you’d like to have some type of relationship with this person. You can usually sense if there is a connection within the first few minutes of conversation.
If you want to move on from a conversation, end it is as gracefully as you can by being courteous. Below are some examples of how to end the conversation gracefully.
Here are 12 of our best exit lines to end or extend a conversation.
- “It was great meeting you! I’m going to continue to mingle around.”
- “It was great meeting you! I’m going to continue to meet people. Here is my card if you ever want to reach out.”
- “I’m going to get another drink. I’ll see you around.”
- “I’m going to meet my friends, it’s nice meeting you.”
- “If you would like to reach out, here is my card.”
- “Thanks for sharing your experience, it was nice meeting you.”
- “My goal is to meet at least one more person. Who do you suggest I talk to?”
- “I have to run to the restroom, do you know where it is?”
- “Hi, this is ____,” (Introduce someone else into the conversation)
- “Excuse me, I have to make a quick phone call.”
- “It was great catching up with you. We’ll talk soon, I’m sure”
- “I don’t want to monopolize all your time. I’m going to go mingle a little more. Here is my card, feel free to reach out anytime.”
These “exit” lines are all adaptable and can be used in almost any situation. Change them up according to the situation you’re in. Have a few in mind, especially if you think you might come across a boring conversation.
Protip: Keep in mind what your goals are? Is it to connect, just meet people, or have meaningful conversations?
Don’t let anyone take up all your time either. Most importantly, don’t feel bad or guilty about exiting a conversation that might not go anywhere.
If you want to establish a deeper meaningful relationship with someone simply ask the person if they want to continue the conversation elsewhere or another day.
Save this for people who you feel a real connection with.
Ending a conversation by asking, “What can I help you with?” will make a larger impact on the other person leading to a more meaningful relationship.
Here are some things to say:
“Because you’re visiting for the first time, here is a list of great places to visit in town.”
“Since I’m familiar with people in that industry, I can introduce you to a couple of people on LinkedIn.”
“Losing weight is hard, I know a great book I can recommend.”
“Since you’re going to NYC for vacation, I can send you a list of my favorite local restaurants.”
This part of the conversation is where you decide if you want to go further with the conversation. Do you want to turn it into a more meaningful relationship or not?
Remember, don’t offer help if you can’t. Create deeper relationships with people who you sincerely want to connect.
Summary of improving your communication skills:
Reflect. After you end your conversations or come home from a social event, reflect on your interactions with people.
Remember to learn from the experience.
Continue to learn and practice and be OK with making mistakes.
Apply your new skills daily, practice, and use all the tools at your disposal. Initiating conversation and creating relationships is hard, especially if you’re new at it.
Practice these ideas every day and experience as many conversations as possible. Step as far as you possibly can outside your comfort zone. Most importantly, have fun!
Many try and many fail, but you should never give up on becoming a better communicator. It’s a process that can be challenging some days, but if you’re patient and persistent, you’ll see the rewards very soon.
Take this as a challenge and an opportunity to improve your life. Show us that you can make it happen. We believe in you.
Be great! GO GET IT!