Have you ever had a conversation with a friend or stranger and insulted them with your honesty? That sucks, right? Too often, people ask me how to deal with situations like this. Should they be misled by another’s opinion? Should they start to be honest together?
If you want to communicate more effectively, the right answer is none of the above!
There is a middle ground between these two extremes that you can learn to distinguish. And when you are able to occupy this space during your conversations, you will find that they go much more smoothly.
If you want to finally learn to talk to people without getting them in the wrong direction, keep reading.
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I know this news may upset you, but I haven’t always been the easiest type to follow * beats from the audience *. Like many people, I used to be too honest with people. I thought my honest and boring communication style was harmless, even at times helpful.
But people really didn’t like it.
I remember it like yesterday. Someone told me how they just got the fifth overdraft from their bank, and looked at me to give a statement of empathy, just shocked to hear me say, “Well, maybe you should take more responsibility for your financial life.”
Can you believe I was surprised that people were hurt by it?
That’s why my words didn’t get any good – because I was an asshole. Only people with no social accuracy of zero will think you are either 100 percent honest or lying in a conversation.
That’s what the field of psychology calls the extreme reach barrier — the assumption that if you want to do something, you have to go OUTSIDE THE PERFECT to do it at all.
Not insulting people during a conversation is not as simple as lying or honesty. But rather, you have to approach the situation a little more subtly.
I’ll show you exactly what you should do in the conversation to avoid the title being a jerk. But first, let’s address what you shouldn’t do.
When people come to us for advice or simply talk to us about their problems, many of us default on giving them information.
Yes, don’t do it.
I know it’s a contraindication, but here’s the thing – people don’t need more information. They are well aware of their problem. If someone is 50 pounds overweight, I promise you that they are already aware that they have a problem with diet and exercise. The last thing they need is for you to start informing them about what they should change in their lives.
The key to doing this is to be more sensitive.
I know what you think “Ramit, how of all the people do you tell me I’m more sensitive?”
Listen, this is my blog, so I can call myself sensitive if I want to. The thing is, you have to have a little more empathy if you want people to like you. If you don’t want to do that, you should just make peace with the fact that people don’t like you too much.
Trying to tell people where they are confused has come across as insensitive, and it leaves them with a feeling that you don’t know their situation. Once you’ve internalized the need for sensitivity, you can move on to what you should really be doing to improve your communication.
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So you know you need to be more sensitive to communicating with people in a way that leads you to a well-liked one. Knowing that’s one thing, but doing it is a whole different beast.
So what does being more sensitive look like and how can you start training?
Here is one simple strategy to help you change your behavior in conversation.
Choose one person from your friend’s group that is generally considered. This person acts as a communication mentor. I want you to keep a close eye on how they answer the questions. If someone comes to them to complain about their relationship or weight, listen carefully.
What questions do they ask? Are they trying to give advice, or are they giving empathy? Do they give most of the speeches or do they listen mainly?
I’m sure you’ll notice that their response differs greatly from how you respond to a situation.
Once you’re familiar with them, try to customize yourself. The next time someone baits you with something like “Oh, I really need to go to the gym,” don’t just unravel first (trust me, I can appreciate how hard this is).
Take a moment and think about how your friend would react. And then give the answer. Over time, you will also change your internal psychology.
As you will learn from above, honesty is not the most important thing in a conversation. Most people want to talk to someone who is not judgmental and be their friend.
If you follow the above procedure, you will change the bad way to deconstruct the “honest,” albeit unknown, thing that comes to mind more as expressions of empathy. This will result in your network keeping you well.
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