How to Talk Your Way to Success
Talk isn't as cheap as might think it is. In fact, your communication skills can guide you toward or away from success depending on how you manage them. Set yourself on the path of success by improving your ability to talk with others and with yourself.
Talking with Others
Involve yourself as often as possible.Before you can talk your way to success, you need to get involved in conversation. Showing up to the conversation demonstrates your interest in the topic at hand and the other people involved.
- Show up to optional meetings and let your voice be heard. For example, many cities and school districts have community meetings that any involved citizen can attend. Showing up to these meetings and conversing with the people there will spread your influence throughout the community.
- For mandatory events, like department meetings at work, show up early and try to be the last person to leave. Being involved in the full conversation makes it easier to get noticed by your superiors.
- You should also make small talk with people, even when doing so isn't necessarily expected. Small talk allows you to establish trust and camaraderie with the other party, making personal and professional negotiations easier to settle.
Remain fully engaged.When talking with someone, give that individual your undivided attention. Don't let yourself become distracted by your phone or other outside parties.
- Being fully engaged in a conversation also requires you to be an active listener. Make eye contact with the other individual as he or she speaks. Don't interrupt, but acknowledge the other person's words with appropriate body language or vocalizations during pauses. Provide appropriate, related feedback when the other individual finishes speaking, too.
Pay attention to the things people say.You probably know well enough to pay attention to the “important” things, like crucial instructions and contact information. Additionally, though, you also need to pay attention to the seemingly insignificant personal details people weave into the conversation.
- Once you know these small details, you can insert them back into later conversations. This sends a message to the other party that you care about them on an individual, human level. Showing someone you care generally encourages him or her to feel more favorably toward you.
- You don't need to know the other person's life story, but some important details would help. For instance, try to remember the names of a person's spouse and kids (when applicable), birthday, and at least one major hobby. In a work environment, you should also remember current projects the other person is involved with.
Observe the unsaid.Often enough, you may learn a little about someone's life without being directly told about it. Make a note of these details, when appropriate, and bring them up in conversation when you have the opportunity to do so.
- Use these details to give meaningful compliments or well-wishes. If you heard about the accomplishments of an acquaintance in another department from your supervisor, consider complimenting that acquaintance when you pass by him or her in the lunch room.
- When mentioning these details, you may wish to mention how you heard about them, too. Knowing too much about someone can seem eerie unless you clarify that your knowledge was gained through respectable channels. For instance, learning about your co-worker's recent surgery from another co-worker may seem more acceptable than learning about it from a social media account you unknowingly have access to.
Use and interpret body language.Effective communication has verbal and nonverbal components. Improving your verbal communication skills is important, but you'll also need to pair those skills with nonverbal abilities if you really want to succeed.
- Use open body language as much as possible to present yourself in a friendlier manner. Make eye contact and smile. Avoid sitting with your arms crossed, and direct your body toward someone when engaged in conversation.
Change negatives into positives.When you're tempted to say something negative, try to find a way to rephrase your sentiments in a more positive manner. The shift in perspective will improve your own mood while allowing others to perceive you as a more affable person.
- You can usually do this by looking for an active way to remedy your current negative state. For example, instead of complaining to your boss about a coworker you don't get along with, consider going to your boss and asking for advice on how to improve your relationship with that coworker. You're still acknowledging the problem you have, but indicating a willingness to fix that problem is a more positive way to approach it.
Ask for clarification.When you have a question, don't be afraid to ask the appropriate party for an answer. Guesses are a good way to create misunderstandings, and those misunderstandings will only worsen until someone speaks up and corrects the initial error.
- Most people would prefer answering questions over correcting errors, so even if the other person seems annoyed when you make your inquiry, that annoyance would only be worse if he or she had to correct you later on.
- To avoid irritating people with questions, pay close attention to any instructions given to you so that you only ask for information that hasn't already been disclosed.
- Additionally, consider asking for clarification on both instructions and goals, especially when you're in a professional or academic environment. Understanding what should result from your efforts may make your task even clearer than the instructions alone would.
Follow through and follow up.Every time you make some sort of commitment, follow through with it. You should also follow up with the other party afterward to verify that things are still going well.
- Being true to your word creates a sense of reliability, and reliable people are more likely to be trusted with important tasks than those who regularly prove themselves to be untrustworthy or unsteady.
- When you follow up, ask for honest feedback and take both compliments and criticisms gracefully. This action suggests that you're genuinely interested in the outcome of each task you perform and in possible ways to improve yourself.
Stand up.Talking your way to success doesnotmean that you should blindly affirm and accept the things other people say. Doing so will cause others to lose respect for you. Instead, stand up for yourself and others whenever you sense some injustice brewing.
- Talking your way to success often involves communication that centers around others, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be concerned about your own self-interests. When someone is taking advantage of you, you can—and should—say something or do something to put an end to it.
- Standing up for others can be just as important as standing up for yourself. In fact, this can be more difficult to do since speaking up on someone else's behalf can make you into another target. Ultimately, though, you'll gain respect in the eyes of those who recognize your courage.
Pitch yourself when necessary.Others may gradually see your good points as they get to know you, but in some circumstances, you'll need a stranger or acquaintance to see your good points before that happens. Don't be afraid to honestly pitch your strengths when the opportunity arises.
- For example, when you're at a job interview or trying to earn business from a new client, you'll need to confidently explain why you're the right person for the job. Describe your strengths and skills. When you mention your weaknesses, also mention how you plan to use them as opportunities for growth.
- Similarly, don't be afraid to ask for the things you want, like a promotion or a raise at work. If you've genuinely earned it and your supervisor deserves your respect, he or she will respect you for making your request regardless of whether or not he or she can agree to it.
Understand the importance of self-talk.Successful self-talk sets the stage for successful communication with others. Negative self-talk will reduce your self-confidence, but positive self-talk raises your confidence and makes it easier for you to speak effectively with other people.
- You're constantly engaged in an inner dialogue, even when you aren't aware of it and don't use words to process the information you feed your brain. This inner dialogue can be influenced by external stimuli, but it can also change your perception of external conditions.
- Negative self-talk forces you to doubt your own abilities and self-worth. When you engage in negative self-talk, you probably believe you'll fail, which makes you more likely to reduce your efforts and actually fail.
- Positive self-talk forces you to look for opportunities to succeed even in the midst of challenging circumstances. This makes it easier to push through difficulties and avoid failure.
Monitor your inner voice.Spend at least two or three days actively monitoring your inner voice. Pay close attention to the way you speak about yourself and speak about the external world during this period.
- Keep a record of your self-talk during this period. You don't need to write a detailed thought-for-thought account, but you should summarize major thoughts you had throughout the day.
- Look at your record after a few days. By reading through it, you can determine how much of your self-talk is positive and how much is negative.
- Identify negative patterns in your record, too. It's possible that certain circumstances act as “triggers” for your negative self-talk. For instance, you might have consistently positive self-talk about your job but negative self-talk about your personal life. Once you identify this pattern, you can be more aware of which perceptions you need to change.
Correct negative thoughts.When you notice a negative thought developing, stop yourself in the middle of it and change the negative to something more positive.
- As soon as a negative thought starts developing, make it a point to internally tell yourself "NO" or "STOP." If possible, don't even allow yourself to finish the negative thought.
- Once you stop the negative from coming through, immediately balance it out with a positive statement that directly counteracts it. If you started to think, "This task is too difficult," switch to thinking, "Icanandwillcomplete this task."
Avoid negative absolutes.Ridding yourself of all negative thoughts might seem impossible, but at the very least, you should actively work on removing negative absolutes from your self-speech. Negative absolutes set your mind up for a pattern of failure, making them more difficult to break than random, one-time negatives.
- For example, you might regularly tell yourself that you can't handle unfamiliar social events. Eventually, "I can't socialize" could turn into a mantra that you repeat to yourself every time an uncomfortable social situation turns up, and the phrase will be so familiar to you that you'll accept it as truth without even questioning it.
Remind yourself of your strengths.Make a list of your strengths. Memorize as many as possible, and frequently remind yourself of your strengths throughout the day to boost your self-confidence.
- If necessary, sit down and write out an actual list of your strengths and skills. Think about your past accomplishments, your positive attributes, and anything else you like about yourself. Add all of it to the list, no matter how small each point may seem.
- When doubt makes it difficult to flip a negative thought around, remind yourself of these strong points. You can either recite them from memory or read them from your list.
Repeat phrases of self-affirmation.People have a tendency to turn negative absolutes into mantras that they repeat on a negative basis. While this is an unhealthy behavior, using the habit of repeating mantras can actually help you if those mantras have a self-affirmative quality.
- Some examples of positive affirmations include:
- I love myself. / I am loved. / I am worthy of being loved.
- I am beautiful. / I am handsome.
- I am unique. / I am creative. / I am courageous.
- I forgive myself for my past faults.
- I refuse to give up. / I can get through anything. / I have the strength to continue forward.
- Some examples of positive affirmations include:
Look on the bright side.It may seem trite to say “count your blessings,” but the practice really can help you. Verbally reminding yourself of your blessings on a regular basis can improve your outlook about life, and the improvement in your outlook will likely show in the conversations you have with other people.
- Everyone faces difficulties and challenges, and it's natural to feel overwhelmed by these problems. Reminding yourself of your blessings can ease some of the pressure, though, which may make life seem a little less depressing. If you can help yourself appreciate the life you have, it should be easier to face challenges and find success where you previously expected to fail.
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