6 little known communication hacks that can significantly improve your social skills

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Some people are born as incredible communicators able to hold people’s attention, express themselves eloquently, and really connect with others.

Then there are the rest of us.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably found that there are times you struggle to say what’s really on your mind, at least in terms that others can understand. You may have also felt like you struggle to make connections and really get to know people at times.

The good news is that this is all pretty normal. In our modern lives, we all meet so many people from so many walks of life that we’re bound to have trouble communicating with all of them.

And the bad news?

If you don’t do anything about it, this struggle will continue for your whole life.

But if you want to try to improve how you communicate and relate to others, there’s a very quick way to do it. You can start right away using these six little-known communication hacks that can significantly improve your social skills!

1) Use mnemonics to remember people’s names.

I’m terrible with names, or at least I used to be. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not anymore and that using this hack isn’t cheating.

It used to be that I’d meet someone new who’d introduce themself and by the time I’d told them my name, I’d already forgotten theirs.

In really casual meetings, this wasn’t a problem. However, if you started to hit it off with this person or meet them again regularly, not knowing their name would become unbearably embarrassing.

You can’t ask someone their name after you’ve met and chatted with them three or four times, right? 

So my partner, who remembers the name of everyone she has ever met her whole life, suggested I use mnemonics to help. And it has really, really helped!

A mnemonic (ignore the first silent ‘m’) is just a fancy word for any technique that helps you remember things. The ones she suggested for remembering people’s names are relating their name to a physical feature or connecting their name to someone else you know with the same name. Or you can combine them.

For example, if a man’s name is Jack and he has sharp, birdlike features, you might remember his name as Jack Sparrow the infamous fictional pirate.

Or if you meet a woman named Hannah, well, Hannah Montana might spring to mind, but you could also relate that name to Hanah-Barbera cartoons like Scooby-Doo.

There’s no right or wrong way to do it – you just have to remember to do it!

One of the best tricks is to actually say your mnemonic out loud as long as it’s appropriate.

“Oh, your name’s Leo, like Leo the lion, the astrological sign. Are you a Leo, by any chance?”

That will really help you remember and show the person you’re paying attention to them because everyone likes to hear their own name.

2) Tilt your head.

Yep, that’s all.

This is the simplest hack you can use to improve your body language and, thus, your communication skills.

Here’s how it works:

Rather than keeping your head straight all the time, tilt it slightly (we’re talking something like 20 degrees – don’t try to touch your ear to your shoulder!) from time to time.

If you’ve ever seen a dog or a cat stare intently at something they’re curious about, you’ll know what I mean.

It works the same way for people. When you tilt your head, you seem more thoughtful and considerate. It makes you seem like you’re actively listening (you should be doing this as well!), and that makes people far more interested in talking to you

Everyone likes being listened to, right?

3) Lower your voice.

People normally say this when they want you to hush, keep it down, or make the conversation private.

But that’s not what I mean by lowering your voice here.

What I actually mean is trying to talk in a lower pitch than you usually do.

I know that most of us just develop the voices we have and don’t put a lot of thought into the actual pitch of our voice. But when people do, it can make a big difference.

I had a student once who was a lovely trans girl named Sugar. She even told me a mnemonic when we met. “My name is Sugar because I’m so sweet.”

Not one of the names I forgot.

Sugar always spoke in a falsetto to the point where I would have thought she’d really feel strain on her voice. But I think it was such an important part of her identity that this became her default way of speaking.

According to research, a higher-pitched voice sounds flirtier in women. However, speaking in a higher pitch may have a negative effect on a person’s standing in society. 

Strangers tested on just voice preference have consistently associated lower-pitched voices with better leadership qualities. While this is true for both men and women, the effect seems greater for men, and those with lower voices are seen as more formidable and prestigious.

So if you want people to listen to you more and perhaps follow your lead as well, try to speak in a slightly lower tone.

4) Speak from down below.

Hold on there, Tiger!

I don’t mean to say what you mean from the deepest part of your being. This might be OK sometimes, but we normally have to know when to temper ourselves in social situations.

I’m actually talking about something my high school drama teacher taught us.

She loved to say, “Cross your t’s and dot your i’s. Pronounce every syllable,” in a really over-exaggerated way that was maybe fit for stage but would get you shunned in real life.

But the other thing she taught us was to “speak from your diaphragm!”

Not the prophylactic.

If you don’t know, your diaphragm is the muscle that makes you breathe. It pulls your thoracic cavity up and out which pulls the lungs right along with it. That creates a vacuum that pulls air into them, then pushes it out as the muscle contracts.

So, rather than just letting air leak out slowly through our windpipes, she was telling us to expel it forcefully using the diaphragm muscle.

Try it – it really works to give your voice a whole lot more volume and power which, when you want to be heard, is exactly what you need.

5) Watch yourself.

Rather than a communication technique, this is more of a training exercise.

It’s going to sound weird, but try talking to yourself in the mirror. Make eye contact with yourself and have a little chat. At the same time, try to study yourself as you talk and see if there are any points you pick up on.

Do you look away or look down often? Do you lick your lips a lot while you’re talking? 

You may find that you have lots of little quirks and habits that you don’t like but didn’t even realize you had.

Making a video of yourself talking is an even better way to watch yourself, especially if you can do it so you’re not so conscious of what’s going on. You might use your phone to film a conversation with someone (just not something sensitive!) and then go back and watch how you behave.

You’ll be amazed at the differences between how you think you carry yourself and how you really do.

6) Use adverbs in your writing.

Communication hacks aren’t just for talking.

There are also things you can do to make your writing more effective and easier to understand.

One of the hardest things to determine from a piece of written communication is the writer’s mood or attitude. Is the person being genuine in what they say or sarcastic? Are they joking or serious?

Of course, most of us know that emojis can be an incredible help when expressing ourselves in writing. A simple smiley face or eggplant can let the other person know our mood or intention immediately.

But they’re not always appropriate.

So I suggest using adverbs instead.

Now, some of these new language and grammar-checking programs are going to tell you that adverbs are unnecessary and may even make your writing seem overdone. And I agree, to a point.

But there are some adverbs that really help us express our true feelings and they can be used sparingly but effectively.

These are words like truly, actually, really, hopefully, definitely, absolutely, certainly, and the like.

They can help you put stress on your emotions, make you seem more sincere, and clarify how you feel. Hopefully, you really don’t totally overuse them.

Final thoughts

These six little-known communication hacks that can significantly improve your social skills are all easy to start using right away.

Try one, try them all, and you’ll quickly see how improving your ability to communicate helps you build stronger relationships.

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