Communication Hacks for a Better Life
How you communicate impacts your life on a day-to-day basis. Ever met someone with a weak handshake? A grumpy waiter? A person who always apologizes for themselves? Someone with a short fuse? A person hiding in the corners? Ever felt put off by these people? But are they really bad people, or are they just having communication issues?
24/7 we communicate to others who we are. This happens through our body language, physical actions, verbal communication and written cues.
I used to be really shy, thinking people didn’t like me. Turns out they weren’t speaking to me, because I was hiding from them. I was literally so scared of what they’d think of me, I didn’t know what to say. With the years I worked through my fears — first simply by forcing myself to speak when I didn’t want to and, later, by realizing the thought patterns that created my fears weren’t based in reality.
I’d made up some things about myself and people due to events in my childhood. As a result of that, I hid away. And as a result of that, I was rejected. Which then reenforced my beliefs about myself and others.
The thing is, everyone, in their hearts, is a good person. The question is: do you choose to live from your heart? Or are you giving your ego free rein? And if you’re choosing the heart, do you know how to communicate to actually be heard for what you’re trying to say?
Becoming the Kings and Queens of Communication
As I was really shy and had very few people skills, I knew I had to learn. Not only did I work on my insides to build my confidence, I also worked on my “outsides.” I learned that there is a way to speak to people, a way to approach people, a way to…do a lot of different things. Anyone in sales, or low and behold: the pick-up industry, can tell you that.
Many people will say they don’t need to learn people skills. That it would alter their personality. They’ve heard horror stories about mind control, met unpleasant sales people, dealt with conmen, or gotten in on the wrong end amongst the pick-up artists. Yes, there are techniques to manipulate others blatantly. No, you shouldn’t engage in them unless you’re trying to prevent a war, or some other such unpleasantry.
People skills, in their basic form, is just a language. Without knowing the language of people skills, people won’t listen to you, or they’ll misunderstand you when you try to say something.
Communication skills includes things like saying please and thank you. It’s learning how to write a flirtatious message. It’s learning how to approach someone in such a way that you don’t put them off when wanting to speak to them. It’s being able to read other people. It’s saying “have a great day” at the end of a message and actually mean it.
If you break the rules of communication, chances are the other person will misunderstand you. Communication skills is about learning how to put your thoughts across in such a way that the other person actually hears you.
Great communication skills go beyond that though. Great communication skills imply that you tell people how you truly feel. It means you communicate your true feelings. And by that I mean the feelings in your heart, not your ego.
I will share some communication hacks below, but first, let’s have a look at what it means to truly communicate how you feel.
Speaking from the Heart v.s. Speaking from the Ego
It’s happened to all of us. We feel hurt, we lash out. We feel ridiculously happy about something, we become proud. We feel ashamed, we hide. Our egos are, in short, dictating our behavior.
If you feel hurt, you can say so. Straight from the heart. That is a lot more impactful than ranting on about how someone should respect you and how they are total dick for doing something that hurt you. Your actions will show that you don’t accept anything less than respect. You don’t need to berate them to show that. You can also tell them what you wish their actions would have been, without for that matter trying to manipulate them into being your pet.
If you feel ashamed, hurt, happy, sad, etc. you can share that. Share it and move on.
If you truly want to communicate how you feel, you have to get real about what you’re feeling. And there’s a difference between what your ego tells you you’re feeling and what you’re truly feeling.
To share an example, someone messaged me the other day to say they were busy with something and therefore couldn’t see me. I replied that it was so the wrong reply and they should have said they’d make it happen no matter what, winkie. I meant it to be playful, but I realized once I’d already sent it, that I probably sounded a lot like the high maintenance people you don’t want in your life.
What I truly meant, was that I was disappointed. And I was starting to get confused by whether or not they wanted me in their life, so I was fishing for a comment confirming they actually cared. When I sent the message though, I didn’t stop to reflect. I just felt annoyed.
I’m used to being surrounded by flirtatious people. People who use word play. So I expected the other person to reply with the same playfulness. But that’s not an excuse for not speaking my truth.
I still carry some scars with me from my childhood and one of them is pretending I don’t care. I’m not gonna show that someone got to me. I think if I show I care, they can take advantage of that, or simply I’ll feel humiliated if they don’t care as much about me. But really, what I want is to form genuine connections with people. I care. I always care about the people in my life.
What’s more, the text I sent is a perfect example of how to create rejection without meaning to. I was acting from my ego. Even if I was using my communication skills to create a text that was, so-to-speak, “playful” and “fun,” I could still have come across as haughty and demanding if the other person wasn’t on the same wavelength.
All this, because I was scared of rejection. I was scared to say “Oh, no, I was really looking forward to seeing you. I’d love to make it happen another day.”
You’ve probably heard a million times “they aren’t worth caring about.” You hear women all the time, especially when dating, saying these kind of things. But both men and women in everyday life apply this as “good advice” when dealing with people who treat them wrongly.
The truth is, if you don’t say you care, trying to pretend that what they did meant nothing to you, what you’re truly doing is giving them the perfect excuse of keep acting as an ass. If you didn’t care, why would they care about their behavior? You don’t have to make it complicated. Tell them “that actually hurt me,” or “I didn’t appreciate what you just did.” Of course, you need to take responsibility for any part you might have played in their behavior, but do express your heart.
Once you’ve expressed your thoughts, you are free to move on. Now, you shouldn’t care anymore. Now, they aren’t worth your time.
Likewise, to get real, you have to get clear on what you want. Ever been caught in the whole “s/he took five days to text me so I’ll take five days too?” If five days to answer a text is what you want, then by all means keep doing it. If not, then it’s not a good strategy to keep doing it. I’m the first to object when people throw all over board to reply to text messages instantly every time (and frankly it scares me when people do it — don’t they have anything else going on in their life than their phone?! Of course, once you get into a conversation it’s different. Then that is what your focus is on), but silly games of waiting 24 hours to reply to every text… Tell people what you want and ask them what’s going on if their communication is confusing you.
You have to get real about what you’re truly feeling. Beyond the ego. The ego is scared of rejection, the ego wants to manipulate others into feeling/doing what you want them to.
People skills come in when talking about how you express your thoughts. Standing wimping in a corner when expressing them, screaming on top of your lungs, invading someone’s personal space, using words no one can comprehend, or going on long rants, isn’t going to help you convey what you truly feel, because the other person will react to what you’re doing, just as much as what you’re saying.
There are a myriad of communication hacks out there. Below you’ll find some you can apply in your life.
Saying please, thank you, have a good day, I really appreciate what you did for me, etc. all really work. Because if you care, people feel better. Most of us care, but forget to show it. Make a habit out of being polite.
When you’re polite to someone, they relax. They are much more likely to be nice back and/or open up to you. They’ll listen to what you have to say, because you’ve already shown a certain level of respect, by being polite.
When was the last time you complimented someone? If you aren’t handing out a few compliments a day, chances are you need to brush up on it. Yeah, you chose your wife because you like her looks and personality, but she won’t necessarily remember what you told her ten years ago about her hair. Likewise, you chose your friends because you like them. But why not tell them what exactly what you like about them from time to time?
Also, here’s a trick for good relationships: rather than commenting every time someone does something you dislike, comment when they do something you do like. The more you appreciate something, the more people tend to want to do it.
The old example about taking the rubbish out, is a good one. If you are always nagging someone about not taking the rubbish out, they start associating it with nagging. It makes them shy away from it. If, on the other hand, you show a burst of joy when they do take out the rubbish, they will want to do it. Because guess what? People who love you tend to want to make you happy. And once they start associating something with happiness they are more prone to do it.
That doesn’t mean you can’t tell someone you want them to do something, you have to communicate your needs/wants, just as you have to listen to theirs. Clear communication is important.
Give People Space
Ever noticed what happens if you stand too close to someone? They back away. Unless someone invites you into their personal space, you shouldn’t be there.
Stand Up Straight
Most of our communication is non-verbal. People will judge you, not only on what you say, but the tone of voice you use when saying it, how you walk, how you stand, etc.
One of the first things people notice is your posture. Are you standing up straight? Or sitting up straight? Is your body closed off, or open? Is your handshake firm, or weak? Is your voice loud, or barely audible? Is your pitch unnervingly high, or on a comfortable level?
You can say “it’s not me” to stand up straight, walk confidently and talk in an audible voice. It would be to manipulate my personality. Really? The person inside your heart is someone walking bent over, as if to protect themselves, speaks in a whisper and turns away from everyone? Or is it maybe someone who speaks so loudly and brazenly, everyone around gets annoyed? Is that the true you? Or is that your ego having a heyday trying to overcompensate for something else, or protect you from imaginary fears?
To read people and therefore be able to respond to what they’re truly saying, you have to stop thinking about yourself. If you sit pondering your reply and wondering what they’re thinking about you, you won’t study them. You’ll be lost in the conversation, without a clue of what’s going on. Sit back. Relax. Look at what they’re doing with their body. That will tell you everything about what to do next. If they move back, give them some space. If they’re open to it, move closer, or pat their arm (don’t pet it), when making a point. People respond well to human touch if they feel comfortable with you. Do it too early and they’ll back off.
And remember, don’t wait for their acceptance. Yes, you can work with clues to see whether you can move closer/suggest a business deal/ask for their number, or not, but don’t let what they’re thinking influence what you think about yourself. No one will accept you unless you first accept yourself.
The truth is, when strangers approach us, we all feel nervous. A) because they might turn out not to be nice B) because they might turn out not to take a hint.
Pick-up artists found a way around this. When walking up to people, they usually tell them that they soon have to leave, for one reason, or another. Immediately the other person/people relax as they know they won’t have someone attached to them as a plaster for hours.
Secondly, they show social proof. I.e. they wave at their friend in the corner, or chat to their friend the barman. This lets the other person/people know that they’re probably quite normal, because they have friends.
Thirdly, they read the other person to gauge whether they want to keep talking, or not. Pick-up artists know they have choice. They aren’t attached to the outcome of getting the person in front of them, no matter what. They aren’t like the kind of people who ignores your wishes. They may try to convince you otherwise, but they will be able to determine how you feel.
Pick-up artists learn to read people, which is why they step away when they see someone doesn’t like them. You know the old thing about “no not meaning no”? Like how a lady can challenge a man by saying no? Mhm. How she says it makes all the difference. If she’s smiling and laughing, and there’s an invite in her eyes and gestures, then it can be a “go on and get me.” But you need to know the difference. Smiling apologetically is not the same thing as smiling invitingly. And where physical touch is involved, a no is ALWAYS a no. Never cross that line.
The point is, once you know how to read someone, you know whether you can come closer, or should back away. People will feel a lot more secure around you just because of that. Because you won’t be the horrible plaster that can’t take a hint. And that’s not only where dating is concerned — it’s related to all interpersonal relationships.
When Someone Likes You
When someone likes you, they tend to:
- have open body language, i.e. uncross their legs and arms and face you
- flare their nostrils (however weird that sounds)
- have their pupils dilated (given no one is shining a light in their eyes)
- match and mirror your body language (i.e. if you cross your legs, they cross theirs, etc.)
- move closer, as opposed to further away
- make eye-contact
Some people are insecure. They will be closed off no matter what and their body language might be erratic (like constant fiddling, eyes darting everywhere, etc.) but you should still be able to pick up on subtle clues.
When Someone Doesn’t Like You
If someone is backing away from you, closing off their body to you, looking away, not matching and mirroring your body language, fiddling with other things as if distracted, or clenching their jaw, they probably don’t like you. Or, simply: how you approach them is wrong. What you’re doing, not who you are, is putting them off.
You may be the nicest person in the universe, but if you keep invading the personal space of strangers, they will back off. This is why people skills are important. You can constantly gauge if your approach is making someone feel comfortable, or uncomfortable. Some people might actually like you if they get to know you, you, you just have to approach them in the right way to open them up to it.
Count to Ten
Never respond to anything immediately if it makes you extremely emotional, unless you really have to.
Most emotions are based either on our past experiences (as our brain uses them as a point of reference), or on assumptions. Unless you know exactly how someone is feeling and why they did what they did, don’t make assumptions and react to those assumptions.
Remember the example of my text, above? I felt disappointed. Instead of saying so, I tried to manipulate the other person into saying they were really sorry they couldn’t see me. I felt uncomfortable, as I didn’t know where I stood with them. I started making assumptions they didn’t care, but I was aware I was making assumptions, so I didn’t want to accuse them of something either. I was confused. So I tried to make them answer an underlying question in a very roundabout way. It was very stupid. But it all happened so fast, as I was on my way out, that I didn’t stop to ponder much. I simply reacted.
Some people start screaming at people, saying they’re horrible people, when really what they want to say is A) I think you did wrong and you hurt me B) I’d really like it if you could apologize. End of. The anger just gets in the way. Because guess what? The other person will respond to the anger instead of the hurt and start yelling back at them.
Communicate cleanly and clearly.
Say What You Actually Mean
This relates to the above, but have you ever tried to speak to someone without saying something straight out? That’s cool when flirting. Innuendo. It’s less cool in the avocet mentioned text.
“I like you…but that car of yours truly, I’m not sure about your coolness factor. LOL ;)” (Because you’ve been joking together about his/her beat up car that they love.)
“I guess I kinda like you.”
“You’re hot. LOL.”
These are texts that use diversion. I like you BUT don’t think you’re too cool. I like you BUT I’m just guessing. You’re hot, BUT I’m laughing, so I’m not really serious.
When you flirt with someone, making them “work for it” is, to some extent, hot. “I like you…but you still need to prove your culinary skills to me… ;)” That’s a challenge. That makes people work for you. Doing it constantly? You’re high maintenance bitch.
Play, but don’t use the play as a way of avoiding saying what you truly mean. Or for that matter: fishing for information. If you want to find something out, say it straight out.
Let’s stick with the example of flirting.
You’ve been on a date. It went well. You had a good time. You’d like to see them again. You text a bit back and forth. You flirt. Still, you’re not sure where things are going. You could keep flirting and hope for a revelation or you could say: “So, I’m having a good time flirting with you and I enjoyed our date. How about we meet up again this week? Up for it? ;)” They could say no, but isn’t that better than spending another week just texting?
There is an old trick for criticizing someone. You first give a compliment, then give the critique, then give another compliment. This is so as not to make the other person feel bad. Because if you make them feel bad, they’re less likely to take on the critique and actually do something about it.
On the one hand, it can work well. Not least because you should learn to compliment people. On the other hand, are you being honest, or using manipulation?
You don’t have to butter people up, but remember: if you never compliment someone, then you should never critique them either. You have to express both things. Otherwise, you are only communicating a select amount of what you’re thinking.
Likewise, you have to speak without inserting any emotions coming from your ego. You don’t have to yell, or berate, you just have to share an observation about something which they are doing that’s not beneficial for them/you.
Other people are afraid of speaking the truth. They are so scared of being rejected by the other person, angering them, or something else, that they avoid the truth. They butter up their communication to no end. The other person will soon realize that their compliments aren’t heartfelt, but rather a way of avoiding rejection. Not cool.
Good communication has three elements to it:
Learning what you are truly thinking, so that you can communicate it
Saying what you actually think straight to the point
Using communication skills and people skills to express yourself in such a way that others understand what it is you’re saying and you understand what they’re saying (if you’re standing in a stranger’s personal space when speaking, you can be as direct as you like: they probably will be too concerned with your invasion of their personal space to listen to a word you’re saying)