Effective Communication Improving Your Social Skills

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Note Of course there are many aspects to effective. communication and you may want more specific help in certain. areas for example learning how to deal with conflict. presentation skills giving feedback etc For more specific. help please see the Recommended Readings list at the end of. this module,Nonverbal Communication, A large part of what we communicate to each other is nonverbal What you say to. people with your eyes or your body language is just as powerful as what you say with. words When you feel anxious you might behave in ways that are designed to avoid. communicating with others For example you may avoid eye contact or speak very. softly In other words you are trying not to communicate likely to avoid being judged. negatively by others However your body language and tone of voice does. communicate powerful messages to others about your. Emotional state e g impatience fear, Attitude towards the listener e g submissiveness contempt. Knowledge of the topic,Honesty do you have a secret agenda. Thus if you are avoiding eye contact standing far away from others and speaking. quietly you are likely communicating Stay away from me or Don t talk to me. Chances are this is not the message that you want to send Below are some steps that. can help you get started in identifying any deficits and improving your non verbal skills. Step 1 Identifying Your Trouble Spots,To get started ask yourself a few questions. Do I have trouble maintaining eye contact when talking with others. Do I smile too much because of nervousness Too little. Do I slouch,Do I keep my head down,Do I speak with a timid voice.
Do I speak too quickly when I am anxious,Do I cross my arms and legs. Anxiety Canada 2, Some of the nonverbal behaviours you may want to pay attention to are. Posture e g head up and alert leaning forward,Movement and gestures e g keeping arms uncrossed. Physical distance e g standing closer when talking to others. Eye contact e g making appropriate eye contact when talking. Facial expression e g smiling warmly,Volume of Voice speaking at a volume easily heard. Tone of Voice e g speaking with a confident tone, Note Many of the above examples are culturally related For example in.
Western societies it is generally accepted that frequent eye contact while. listening and looking away slightly more often while speaking are. appropriate, Step 2 Experiment with and Practice Non Verbal Skills. Try to practise only one skill at a time so you can make sure you have mastered. it before moving on to the next skill, You may want to ask a trusted friend or relative to give you some feedback on. your non verbal behaviour This feedback can be very useful as we often do not. really know how we appear to others, If you are able to it may be useful to videotape yourself having a conversation. and note what your body language may be communicating Once you have. identified a couple of trouble spots practice the appropriate body language. You can also practise your new nonverbal skills in front of a mirror. Once you have gained a little confidence and practise using nonverbal. communication skills at home try it out in real interactions It is a good idea to. start small by talking to clerks tellers and cashiers at stores for example Try. increasing the amount of eye contact you make when talking with others smile. more and pay attention to the reactions of others For example is the bank teller. friendlier or more chatty when you give her more eye contact and smile more. Anxiety Canada 3,Conversation Skills, One of the biggest challenges for someone with social anxiety is starting conversations. and keeping them going It is normal to struggle a bit when you are trying to make small. talk because it is not always easy to think of things to say This is especially true when. feeling anxious On the other hand some anxious people talk too much which can. have a negative impression on others,Step 1 Identifying Your Trouble Spots.
Below are some questions that you may want to ask yourself to identify the areas you. want to work on,Do I have trouble starting conversations. Do I quickly run out of things to say, Do I tend to say yes nod and try to keep other people talking to avoid having to. Am I reluctant to talk about myself,Do I talk too much when I m nervous. Tips for Starting a Conversation, Start a conversation by saying something general and not too personal for. example talk about the weather Gorgeous day isn t it pay a compliment. That sweater looks great on you make an observation I noticed that you. were reading a book on sailing do you have a boat or introduce yourself I. don t think we have met I m, You don t need to say anything extremely witty It s better to be sincere and.
Once you have talked for a while especially if you have known the person for. some time it might be appropriate to move on to more personal topics for. example relationships family matters personal feelings spiritual beliefs etc. Remember to pay attention to your nonverbal behaviour make eye contact and. speak loudly enough that others can hear you,Anxiety Canada 4. Tips for Keeping a Conversation Going, Remember that a conversation is a two way street don t talk too little or too. much As much as possible try to contribute to about one half of the. conversation when speaking one on one, Disclose some personal information about yourself such as your weekend. activities your favourite hockey team or a hobby or interest Personal information. does not need to be too personal you can start with giving your opinion about. movies and books or talking about things that you like doing. Try to show a little vulnerability it can even be OK to admit that you are a bit. nervous for example I never know what to say to break the ice or I m always. so nervous at parties where I hardly know anyone However take care. sometimes disclosing too much too soon can put others off. Ask questions about the other person but when you are first getting to know. someone take care not to ask questions that are too personal Appropriate. questions might be to ask about their weekend activities their preferences or. their opinion about something you said For example How do you like that new. restaurant, Try to ask open ended questions rather than close ended questions A close. ended question is one that is answered by a few words such as yes or no for. example Do you like your job In contrast an open ended question elicits. much more detail for example How did you get into your line of work. Remember People generally like to talk about themselves especially if. the other person is showing genuine interest,Tips for Ending a Conversation.
Remember all conversations end sometime don t feel rejected or become. anxious as a conversation nears its end Running out of things to talk about. doesn t mean you are a failure or that you are boring. Think of a graceful way to end the conversation For example you can say that. you need to refill your drink catch up with another person at a party get back to. work or you can promise to continue the conversation at a later time or date for. example Hope we ll have a chance chat again or Let s have lunch together. Anxiety Canada 5, Step 2 Experiment with and Practise Your Conversation Skills. The next time you have an opportunity to practise starting or ending a conversation try. breaking some of your normal patterns For example if you tend not to speak about. yourself try to share your thoughts and feelings a bit more and see what happens Or. if you tend to wait for the other person to end the conversation try a graceful exit. yourself first, Below are a few suggestions for some practice situations. Speak to a stranger For example at a bus stop in an elevator or waiting in. Talk to your neighbours For example about the weather or something going. on in the neighbourhood, Interact with co workers For example chat with co workers on your coffee. break or in the staffroom at lunch, Have friends over for a get together For example invite a co worker or. acquaintance over meet someone for coffee or throw a birthday party for a. relative Make sure you interact with your guests, Try giving a compliment Resolve to give at least two compliments each day.
preferably ones that you would not normally give But remember to always be. sincere only pay a compliment to someone if you truly believe what you are. Hint If you are unsure use a video or audiotape to practise You might. feel a little silly at first but remember you are just experimenting. Have fun with it,Assertiveness, Assertive communication is the honest expression of one s own needs wants and. feelings while respecting those of the other person When you communicate. assertively your manner is non threatening and non judgmental and you take. responsibility for your own actions, If you are socially anxious you may have some difficulty expressing your thoughts and. feelings openly Assertiveness skills can be difficult to learn especially since being. Anxiety Canada 6, assertive can mean holding yourself back from the way you would normally do things. For example you may be afraid of conflict always go along with the crowd and avoid. offering your opinions and as a result have developed a passive communication style. Alternatively you may aim to control and dominate others and have developed an. aggressive communication style, However an assertive communication style brings many benefits For example it can. help you to relate to others more genuinely with less anxiety and resentment It also. gives you more control over your life and reduces feelings of helplessness. Furthermore it allows OTHER people the right to live their lives. Remember Assertiveness is a learned skill not a personality trait you are. born with It is what you do not who you are, To start ask yourself the following questions to identify what area s to work on.
Do I struggle to ask for what I want,Is it hard to state my opinion. Do I have trouble saying no,Tips for Communicating Assertively. Many people find it hard to ask for what they want feeling that they don t have. the right to ask or fearing the consequences of the request For example you. may think What if he says no or She would think I am rude for asking. When making a request it can be helpful to start by saying something that shows. that you understand the other person s situation For example I know you. probably have had a lot on your mind lately, Next describe the situation and how you feel about it For example This. presentation is due next Friday and I am feeling pretty overwhelmed and worried. that I won t be able to get it done in time It is important to talk about your. feelings and not to make accusations to others For example it is better to say I. feel resentful when you show up late to meet me than it is to say you are. always late You don t care about me, Then describe what you would like to see happen Be as brief and positive as. possible For example I d really like to figure out how we can share more of the. work responsibilities, Last tell the person what would happen if your request was honoured How.
would you feel Sometimes you may want to add what you will do in return For. Anxiety Canada 7, example I would make sure to help make the slides for your presentation next. Many people have trouble expressing their views openly Perhaps you wait for. others to give their opinion first and will share yours only if you happen to agree. Being assertive means being willing to state your opinion even if others haven t. done so or if your opinion is different, Being assertive means that you own your opinion that is you take responsibility. for your view for example My personal view is that it was unfair for her to ask. that of you, Being assertive also means being willing to consider new information and even. changing your mind However it does not mean changing your mind just. because others think differently,Tips for Saying No. Saying no can be difficult for you if you are usually more passive However if you. are not able to say no to others you are not in charge of your own life. When saying no remember to use assertive body language e g standing. straight eye contact speaking loudly enough that the other person can hear. Before you speak decide what your position is For example think about how. you will say no to a request such as I would like to help you out but I already. have quite a bit of work to get done this week, Make sure to actually wait for the question and don t say yes before the other.
person even makes the request, Take care not to apologize defend yourself or make excuses for saying no when. it is not necessary, If saying no right away is too difficult practise telling someone I need to think. about it as a first step This will help break the cycle of always saying yes and. will give you a chance to think about what you really want to do. Remember Everyone has the right to say no,Anxiety Canada 8. Step 2 Practise your New Assertiveness skill, First think of a couple of past scenarios when you avoided giving your opinion or. preference saying no or asking for what you wanted How could you have. handled the situation differently What would be an assertive way to. communicate in those situations, Practise saying your assertive statement out loud to yourself to get used to it.
Effective Communication Improving Your Social Skills Building good relationships with other people can greatly reduce stress and anxiety in your life In fact improving your social support is linked to better mental health in general since having good friends can act as a buffer for feelings of anxiety and low mood This is especially true if you are socially anxious and

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