Five Tips for Sharpening Your (Rusty) Communication Skills

After more than 15 months of isolation, people are starting to become more social. However, there is a chance you’ve become a bit rusty at exactly how to do so.

Much like a runner who takes off 15 months, you may need to start slow and build up your skills before you are at least as proficient as you were before.

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Berstein offers five tips on how to ease back into socialization.

  1. Master small talk
    1. To start, find common ground. The weather is perfect.
    2. Try commiserating.
    3. Keep the small talk going until you can establish a rapport. You can do this by digging down on a topic rather than jumping from one subject to another. Ask questions. Aim to learn something.
  2. Plan ahead
    1. Give your answers a time stamp. (“Today has been a good day.”)
  3. Ask questions
    1. Everyone likes to talk about themselves. And they’ll think you’re a great conversationalist for directing the conversation to them. This is what I try to do, because I never have anything interesting to say. I’m not sure anyone thinks I’m a great conversationalist…
  4. Segue smoothly
    1. Listen closely for an opportunity to change the topic
    2. Try to introduce some positive topics.
    3. If someone has shared something emotional, be sure to acknowledge their feelings before moving on.
  5. Exit gracefully
    1. nonverbal cues come in handy; Take a step back to increase space. Wave at someone across the room. Go ahead and peek at your watch
    2. Show appreciation. “It was great to see you. I’m glad we got to catch up.”
    3. A positive exit will hopefully set the stage for future conversations

So there you have it, five, or however you like to count, suggestions on how to become a better coversationalist.

By the way, here is my take on the five:

  1. How YOU doin’?
  2. Always make sure your first question is, “How YOU doin’?”.
  3. How YOU doin’?
  4. Once the person answers the question: “How YOU doin’?”, move to tip 5.
  5. Master the Irish goodbye.

These five tips may give you a little insight into why no one seeks me out at social gatherings…

Maybe I just need to practice my communication skills, so let me give it a shot.

How YOU doin’?…

67 thoughts on “Five Tips for Sharpening Your (Rusty) Communication Skills

  1. My go-to move is one of these ideas—ask questions. Of course, the questions have to be tactful. Not something like, “Where did you find those hideous clothes?” 😎

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I would agree people love to talk about themselves, so asking questions and showing interest in the answers is a great tool. People also like to be right. So agreeing, if you can stomach it, also goes a long way. And it doesn’t hurt to be well read.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am quite happy to let people talkaout themselves. If it gets to be too much, then it’s time for the Irish goodbye.

      I also agree or just don’t say anything of I don’t agree with what a person is saying. I’m not a fan of confrontation…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You’ve put a funny spin on what is almost a comical problem for me. My ability to talk with others is severely retarded. Six years ago, before I gave up alcohol, I was fairly comfortable making small talk. Since going dry, I’ve struggled with verbal connection. My brain essentially freezes and I can’t think of anything to say. Sometimes feeling self-conscious in the middle of a sentence, I get choked up and have trouble talking. Yes, I know… therapy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I gave up alcohol a few years ago, and I knowexactly what you are referring.I also found it harder to talk with people at social gatherings where drinks were being served. As a result, I tried to avoid such situations.

      I did start having a beer one or two days a week a couple of years ago. While Iwas more willing to go to social events, I’m not sure it made me any better of a conversationalist!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. i’m horrible at small talk/chatter and my mind instantly went to the irish goodbye, so i was so happy to see it there! guess i’m the same after being isolated or not?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’ve never been much good at small talk and I generally find others are only too happy to talk about themselves and really ask anything of me. While I may be happy to be let off the hook it does seem rather one-sided much of the time. Before, during or after lockdown, I don’t think it makes much difference to me.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I think we’d be okay now as we know each other quite well. We could skip the small talk and go to the deep and meaningful. 😂


  6. What’s the Irish goodbye? I love these tips and often employ them without even realizing.. I have seen friends who just don’t know how to go about ending conversations though lol painfully so lol… My husband always complains about a chatty Cathy at work and I told him since you know that’s her nature, what I would do every time I am in a meeting with her is give her a gentle warning about how much time you have avail on the clock… “Hey Cathy great that we could have this meeting, listen I have to run in 20 mins but let’s get into it…” And keep your word! I don’t think that’s being rude at all, it’s setting out expectations… In social situations it can obviously be less business and more casual but I think one can still employ the same tactic…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. from Wikipedia: The Irish Goodbye is a term used for someone who leaves a party without saying goodbye to anyone. also known a the French Exit or Dutch Leave.

      great way to set those time expectations up front.

      even better is not to have those meetings at all! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m too am sorry the weather is perfect. But I love the pink color of your Arctic parka. I am sorry you have to spread your mother’s ashes today. Where is Baffin Island anyway? Do you think you will have time to play some tennis on your trip. Wow, I see Jim Borden over at the Irish Heritage Exhibit. Why don’t you go over and introduce yourself?


    1. I may have to use these questions at my next social event, which seem to be fewer and fewer these days – which is fine with me.

      And I have heard tennis ia avery popular activity on Baffin Island.

      And thanks for sending this person in my direction 🙂


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