A few chosen ones are born with a golden tongue and with great social communication skills. Others have to learn to use theirs effectively. Of all the uncertainties we regular folk, perhaps the biggest, at least in terms of social communication skills, is not knowing what to say next.
Social Communication Skills: How to Know What to Say
There’s a very clear reason why we struggle to think of what to say: because we worry about it so much. Clues abound in people’s speech which reveal precisely what we should say next. Whether we’re talking to our bosses, a romantic interest, friends or anyone else, if we could stop worrying and start listening we would hear the clues that guide us down the path of good conversation. In truth, good social communication skills arent about what you say. Good social communication skills are about what you hear.
So, how do we stop worrying and start listening? The answer is to know what to listen for, to know where the signposts lay on the trek through conversation. The following markers will help guide you on your way.
The Markers That Let You Know What to Say so you can have good social communication skills
Slips of the Tongue: Don’t presume that slips of the tongue are really just slips. When Gordon Brown said the world was in a depression, when he really meant a repression, his word revealed much. He clearly had the word depression on his mind. Knowing what subjects are on a person’s mind will help you determine where to take the conversation. In this instance, Mr Brown certainly would have appreciated some reassurance!
Analogies, Metaphor and Similes: These allow the speaker freedom of thought and expression. Imagine, for instance, a person who wishes to tell you that they were useless. They might say, “as helpful as tits on a bull,” “a one legged man in a butt kicking contest,” “as valuable as a condom to a eunuch,” “a chocolate teapot” or “an inflatable dartboard.” These all convey the same message: they’re useless, but they allow for freedom of thought. The words the speaker chooses says a great deal about them. To the “chocolate teapot” you might respond, “Ha ha, that’s funny. Speaking of teapots, do you fancy a cuppa?” To the “one legged man in a butt kicking contest” you might laugh then say, “That reminds me, did you watch UFC the other night?” And so on. The point is: take what you’re given and roll with it.
Repeat: If you really can’t think of anything to say, the easiest and most effective say out is to simply repeat the final few words your companion said while hinting for them to say more of it. For instance, they say, “The stock market looks set to go down again.” You don’t know what to say, so instead you opt to repeat, “Set to go down. . . “ while leaning forward and turning your head just a little to the side to indicate interest. They’ll then carry on about the same subject, given you room to think.
Read: If you know you’re going out and will be chatting, go loaded with new info. Read the paper, watch the news, gaze over each of the various sections of the weekend newspaper. Actually, that last way is a great one, because if you read a little bit of all different sections of the paper you’ll have something to say to anyone you might meet. Met a sports fan? That’s cool, you just read about the Olympics so you can talk about that. Met a fashionista? No problemo, you’ve just read about all the latest trends in the world of fashion. No matter who you meet, you’ll have something to say.
One cool tip for social communication skills down. Wonder what comes next. . .