Improve Your Communication Skills

Have you ever been to a function in a room full of strangers and found yourself lost for words? You may need to improve your communication skills.

The art of introducing yourself to others and creating small talk may come natural for some. But most people confess to feeling shy, embarrassed and don’t know where to start. What are the levels of communication?


Small Talk

First is the level of small talk. In new relationships or acquaintances the safest place to start is to talk about surface issues. For instance, talk about the weather, current events or the surroundings you are in.

You will “size up” the other person at this level. Also, you can determine the comfort zone between the two of you. There is no need to disclose any personal information at this stage. This initial interaction assists you to determine how “safe” they are on your first meeting.

If you are comfortable with each other at a surface level you can slip into the next level: fact disclosure.

Fact Disclosure

Next is the level of Fact disclosure. This is deeper than small talk in that you disclose facts about yourself without triggering topics of emotional interest.

The purpose of fact disclosure is to find out if you have something in common. You can use these common areas to build a friendship. You may want to talk about your career, occupation, hobbies, or where you live.

Avoid topics like marriage, divorce, politics, sex and religion in this second level of communication.  If you find a topic of mutual interest you can move on to the next level: sharing viewpoints and opinions.

Sharing Viewpoints and Opinions

Once you have established that the other person is “safe” through small talk. And you have found areas of common interest, you can build rapport by sharing your opinions and viewpoints.

By sharing your viewpoints and opinions you allow yourself to become vulnerable to the other person. Enter this level of communication once you are comfortable that you both share positive feelings through the first two levels.

You should can listen to the opinions of your new friend. This will enable your friendship to survive.

Make sure you don’t use your opinions as a form of “character assassination” of other people. You can be thought of as a negative person. And this may cause your new friend to distance himself/herself from you.

The fourth level of communication is sharing personal feelings. Solid friendships over time usually enter this fourth level of communication.

Sharing Personal Feelings

So, you you have built up trust, found things in common and shared viewpoints with the other person. Next, you may be able to share your personal feelings. This is when an acquaintance becomes a genuine friend.

At this level things of deep value can be shared without feeling threatened. You listen closely to each other without the need to “solve” your friend’s problem. You are happy to reflect their feelings back to them. This forms a bond of empathy and compassion between the two of you.

At this level of communication, it is important that you provide a little distance between yourself and your friend. If the distinction between yourself and your friend becomes unrecognizable, it is possible for your relationship to go sour. Therefore, if you know how to handle your own feelings, attitudes and behaviors while maintaining your friendship at this level, you can build a lifelong friendship.

A life coach is an example of a professional who can help you improve your communication skills. As with any skill – you must practice. Build a support team of people who can help you.