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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Social Situations and Small Talk

As humans, we are frequently required to attend a whole host of social functions where we are required to interact with groups of strangers. Most of us could use some help in such social situations.

Wouldn't it be nice become a better conversationalist in the art of small talk?

In a previous post, "First Impressions", the importance of making a good first impression was highlighted. This was followed up with the post "How to Make a Great First Impression" where we looked at some tips on how to achieve this.

In this post, we will be exploring the next step in socializing which is making the art of making small talk.

What is small talk?

It is an easy going, light hearted and casual conversation about everyday happenings. It deals with general topics and everybody should be able to participate in the conversation.

How do you begin?

Well, asking a question is always a great place to start. Ask open ended questions which trigger a response. Alternatively, you could always make a statement, state a fact or give an opinion.

Here are some dos and don'ts of small talk.

Do talk about

- Business
- Situation
- Travel
- Background
- Food
- Sports
- Cars
- Movies
- Entertainment
- Hobbies

Avoid talking about

- Religion
- Politics
- Personal Questions (age and income)
- Appearance
- Race
- Inappropriate Jokes

Here are some things you could do to be better at engaging in small talk

Practice Practice Practice:

Engage in conversation with people whom you come across, be it cashiers, waiters, people you're in line with, come across or encounter, be it neighbors, co-workers or even kids.

Chat with people dissimilar to yourself, from seniors to teens to tourists. Force yourself to get into small talk situations. Accept invitations, or even host your own very own meeting or gathering.

Be Well Read and More Involved:

How do expect to contribute to and be involved in a conversation if you are ignorant of the issues? Television, music, sports, fashion, art and poetry are great topics for everyday conversation. Everything is a source of information that can be discussed. Noticed that the people most skilled in conversation usually have an opinion for most topics.

Even if you don't like something, that too can be an interesting source for a conversation. Expand your horizons. Try japanese food, play pinball, paint, or even bake a pie. Try something new every day.

Become a Better Listener:

Listen more than you talk. Attentive listening can bring up many opportunities for making small talk. Did she just say that she suffers from migraines? Did he mention his favorite football team? Take your time during introductions. Make an extra effort to remember the other person's name names and use it frequently.

Remember, the more you practice, the better you are at it. The more you know, the more you know you can talk about. The more you listen, the more you can focus on the other person's interests. This will help you become more confidence, overcome any traces of shyness and any feelings of fear.

Small talk can and is a huge challenge for most people. However, some preparation and confidence is all that you require to be successful at it. A skilled small talker will come across being more friendly and open, as compared to a person who does not say much during social situations.

If you have enjoyed this post, please remember to subscribe to this blog, bookmark it or check out some other excellent articles from the Top Posts section. Thanks.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Remembering A Person's Name

Dale Carnegie, is his famous international best seller, How to Win Friends and Influence People has listed down "six ways to make people like you". Lets explore one of them.

Our name is an extremely vital part of our own self image. It identifies who you are. It is your shout out to the world. Our name is a means of identification. We use it when we affix our signature, on any report we turn in, on our tax returns.

Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. The average person is more interested in his or her own name than in all the other names on earth put together.

Remembering a name not only creates instant familiarity and connection to the other person, it is also a subtle and effective complement. It implies of the importance of the other person such that time and effort has been taken to remember one's name.

On the other hand, if you have met someone and meet them later and have not taken the trouble to remember his or her name, that person will think you have no interest in him or her.

"Good manners," said Emerson, "are made up of petty sacrifices."

Now that we've established the importance of remembering a person's name, lets look at some techniques that can help us remember names better.

In order to remember a name, you could form mental imagery that sounds like the name. The more ridiculous the image, the easier it is for you to recall.
It is also important to picture that person in the scene. This will help you to associate that person to the ridiculous scene which triggers off your recognition of that person's name.

Later, when you are alone, you should write down the person's name on a piece of paper. This will give you a written impression of the name. You could also say it aloud a couple of times giving you a spoken impression of the person's name.

Remembering names is an important social skill. Mastering this skill can offer a distinct advantage in your business as well as in your personal lives. The secret to remembering names is to make the extra effort to review, relate, repeat and record the names and associations of people for easier recall.

This article is one of the six ways to make people like you as mentioned in Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends and Influence People. If you enjoyed this post, do bookmark this post or subscribe to this blog.

If you like this article, you might also enjoy

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
1. Don't criticize, condemn or complain.
2. Give honest and sincere appreciation.
3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Six ways to make people like you

2. Smile.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ten Guidelines for Better Communication Part 2

In my last post, Ten Guidelines for Better Communication Part 1, I presented five tips that can definitely help you to communicate more effectively. Here are five additional tips.

6. Talk to him in his own Language

If you tried to describe the color "green" to a color-blind man, you wouldn't get very far. We frequently make the same mistake either by using unfamiliar words, or by assuming that the other person has the same ideas or interests as us.

Hence, by "tailoring" your language, ideas and words to your audience, this is helps in promoting effective interpersonal communication

7. Emotions Mean as Much as Facts

This simple fact escapes many individuals. People not only think with their brains, but also with their personalities.

Fear, anger, suspicion, together with a lot of other undesirable emotions can easily be aroused by what you say. Remember, non-verbal communication plays a huge part in our daily interpersonal interactions.

8. Discretion Plays a Part

A good communicator doesn't rebroadcast everything he hears. People will only tell you things you should know if they're sure it won't get them into trouble. Before you repeat something, do consider the possible effects and consequences.

9. Too much is as bad as too little

Minds are like stomachs. They can only hold and digest a certain amount at a time. When you have a lot to say, see if it can be broken up into parts. Or perhaps put the details into writing for future reference.

10. Watch For Responses

The best way to find out if you're really getting through is to see how the other person is reacting. If he or she look bored, irritated or confused, you will need to change your approach.

Attentive listening is important not only because of what you can learn, but also because it means a great deal to the other person.

Remember, the points stipulated above are NOT hard and fast rules. You have to keep in mind that you are communicating with real people; people who do not act according to established rules and may, and probably will, act and think irrationally at times.

Keep the above ten rules in mind and this will definitely help to encourage more effective communication in your daily life.

If you have enjoyed this post, please remember to subscribe to this blog, bookmark it or check out some other excellent articles from the Top Posts section.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ten Guidelines for Better Communication Part 1

Are you interested in communicating more effectively? Do you want some rules to help encourage effective communication?

Here are ten tips that can definitely help you to communicate more effectively.

1. Think Before You Speak and Put Things in Logical Order

You can't expect to communicate in a clear manner if your thoughts come out in a disorganized way. Outline your thoughts in your own mind before letting it out. Remember, you can't erase words once they're out of your mouth.

When things are disorganized, people become confused and disinterested. Make sure that your thoughts are structured and organized before you communicate them.

2. Use Your Past Experience

Each individual has his or her style of communication. We need to learn from paste experiences in order to communicate more effectively.

Stop to think: "What have I learned previously that will help me communicate more effectively this time around?"

3. Try and Catch People in a Frame of Mind to listen

An individual who is worried, angry or is preoccupied won't "hear" you any better than if you were talking next to a very noisy machine. This acts as a barrier which impedes effective communication.

In this process of communication, many factors act as noise which distorts the message from its original meaning, These factors could include a person's unreceptive or negative mood which acts as a barrier to effective communication This "barrier" or "noise" acts to distort the message in the communication process.

My post about "Understanding the Communication Process" elaborates on this point further. It talks about the communication process and the noise that distorts the message.

4. Arouse Interest in the Other Individual

A person's attention is like money in a sense. He will only give it to you if he expects to get something worthwhile in return. To get someone to listen, you will have to motivate him just as you would to get him to do anything else.

We individuals are interested in what we want, but unfortunately, no one else is. In order to win over the minds and hearts of other people, why talk about what we want? The individual who is able to put the needs of others above his or her own will be able to win the hearts of others.

The post "Arouse in the Other Person an Eager Want" elaborates more about this important point.

5. Find Common Ground

If you want somebody to agree with you, or even to listen to you, try to imagine how he or she feels about this topic and take his viewpoint into account.

Do stay tuned for next week's post where i reveal the next five guidelines for better communication.

If you have enjoyed this post, don't forget to bookmark it. Thanks.