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How to adapt to different speaking situations
How to engage with an audience
How to use body language effectively
US surgeon general Vivek Murthy describes five forms of being alone – the first four of which can damage your mental and physical health:
Healthy relationships generate a slew of positive benefits. Research shows, for example, that doubling your number of friends boosts your well-being as much as increasing your income by 50%. But despite humanity’s need for connection, people everywhere are experiencing increased loneliness. In 2018, 22% of American adults reported that they often or always felt isolated or lonely. The 2020 coronavirus pandemic has sent such feelings into overdrive.
Digital forms of communication abound, but social connection platforms can actually exacerbate feelings of loneliness. For example, people who passively scroll and post status updates on Facebook – as opposed to engaging with others via comments – actually feel more isolated
You can overcome your feelings of loneliness by cultivating stronger listening skills, which allow you to better connect with others.
People can be bad listeners for many reasons: They’re busy formulating responses while the other person is still talking, or they have an intense emotional reaction to something someone is saying. They might be impatient with the speed with which the other person is conveying information. Or their smartphones distract them.
Slow down and be intentional with your focus. Put away your devices. Don’t force a conversation to follow your own agenda. Instead, try asking open-ended questions, letting others direct the flow of the conversation.
You aren’t really listening if you’re busy predicting what someone is going to say next.
When people repeat phrases or words, they’re often revealing their primary focus, which is valuable information.
When people express intense emotions, avoid the impulse to react emotionally too. Instead, ask neutral questions like what makes the issue so important to them.
Spark your curiosity instead of falling in the emotional roller coaster.
Build stronger social ties by cultivating curiosity about others. Research shows that people feel closer to conversation partners who express curiosity. They also view such individuals as more attractive. Curious people care about what’s happening around them and genuinely want to hear people’s stories. They have an open-minded approach to listening, which makes them appear more trustworthy.
People often conceal their true feelings from others when performing social roles. For example, when making a sales pitch, you might pretend to be confident when you’re actually feeling insecure. Yet a willingness to show others your authentic self is the bedrock of healthy relationships. You might assume that displaying vulnerability will cause others to view you as weak, but the reverse is true: Research shows that people like individuals who display vulnerability better than those who don’t.
Ask yourself why you want to tell a story. Are you hoping to entertain, enlighten, persuade or give information to your listeners? Think about your audience’s concerns and priorities, and how your story could service those needs.
Use these strategies to minimize unproductive conflicts, navigate uncomfortable conversations and build empathy with others:
Focus on other people’s faces when they tell you their names. To further cement a name in your memory, ask a question about the name, such as how to spell it. Or make a connection between the name and something/someone else. You can also try using a person’s name in conversation.
Make a video of yourself reading something you’ve prepared, and watch it. Reflect on your performance, particularly on your effectiveness in conveying emotions. Make adjustments as necessary before attempting a live video call.
When the pandemic ends, people will likely hug their friends again and greet one another physically. In the meantime, people will continue to find new ways to connect digitally, such as using virtual “buddy check-in” systems to help manage feelings of isolation.
The future workplace is hybrid, with people workingLogin both from home and in offices. Leaders will need to proactively work to help their teams feel a sense of community and social connection.
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