people having a conversation at work

3 Tips for Better Communication

Do you struggle with communication? Here, we provide 3 easy tips you can apply to any conversation to feel more confident about your communication skills.

Do you feel like you can never get your point across? Do you think no one actually hears what you have to say? Do you think you’re terrible at communicating?

Maybe you feel like you’re shy and approaching conversations is intimidating. Or maybe you don’t have a lot of confidence in yourself. And this makes you tense up at the idea of interacting with other people.

You’ve tried to make changes in the way you communicate. Maybe you’ve watched videos online. You keep seeing advice about “fake it til you make it.” But this actually doesn’t solve the problem. In fact, it only makes you feel more distant and uncomfortable engaging with others. It feels like everyone knows you are just pretending. And all you want is to be accepted for who you are. 

Communication is one of the main ways we connect with others. If it feels like you aren’t able to actually communicate with the people in your life, there could be deeper issues you are facing. Thinking you can’t communicate might be the most noticeable problem. But beyond this, you might start to feel isolated. And there is nothing worse than feeling alone. 

As humans, we mostly learn how to communicate by watching everyone around us as we grow up. But there is an actual biological process for communication that isn’t taught to us in school. At MacklinConnection, we have spent over 30 years developing a method, based on human biology, about how to actually communicate. It is something anyone can apply and see results, with some practice. 

In this article, we’ll look at 3 tips that can help you improve your communication style today. And the more you practice, the more you’ll see your ability to communicate improve. 

Tip #1: Determine your intention before a conversation. 

The first tip for improving your communication is to set an intention for yourself and others before having a conversation. 

If you already feel like you aren’t good at communicating, walking into a conversation with that mindset isn’t going to help you feel more comfortable. For example, if you regularly feel like “no one listens to me,” you’ll probably still feel this way (even if the conversation goes well) unless you decide to change your outlook. 

At MacklinConnection, we implement a practice of “creating our way of being.” This just means that we set an intention out loud for ourselves and others. When you speak something out loud, your brain doesn’t know that it’s you who is sending that message. All it knows is that it is receiving a message. This helps to wire your brain to focus on specific outcomes. And you can decide what you want those outcomes to be.

To set your intention and create your way of being all you do is say something like:

“Today, I create myself to be creative, friendly, and confident, and I create others to be open, receptive, and sources of help.”

You can put whatever adjectives you want that relate to what you want to experience. Before a conversation you can say, “I create myself to be a good listener and a clear communicator, and I create others to be good listeners and receptive to what I have to say.” This opens up your subconscious mind to the experience of having a positive conversation. You are deciding for yourself how you want the conversation to go. And then establishing a pattern for your brain as to how to perceive other people

This practice changed my life. I first learned about it when I was taking The Macklin Method Workshop. I watched the session leaders set their intentions for themselves and others on the workshop call. And it seemed like they immediately shifted into whatever state of being they crafted for themselves. It was so powerful to witness.

And then I started to do this myself. We were challenged to be intentional about creating our way of being every day - and then before we would interact with someone. This would set the tone for whatever conversations we would have.

The first time I really noticed that this made a difference was when I didn’t set an intention for myself before a conversation. In the scheme of things, it was a low stakes situation. I was grocery shopping but the transaction at the cash register was taking quite a long time. I tried to strike up a conversation and just completely fumbled it. I felt so awkward and inarticulate. It was like I forgot how to have a conversation.

This was especially noticeable because my other conversations that week had been going so well. But I had been so intentional about those conversations. I was creating my way of being and determining an outcome for each of those conversations. And then, when I didn’t do this, I fell on my face. Seeing this contrast of what it was like to not be intentional before communicating with someone has kept me on board with the practice.

There were other workshop participants who said they felt silly when they first tried it - so it’s completely ok if you feel like this too. Anything new might feel a little uncomfortable at first. But you can do this when you’re alone, so it doesn’t feel so strange. The most important thing is that you say it out loud, at least once a day, so your brain can receive the message. It takes less than a minute, so it should be an easy low maintenance habit to build confidence for conversations. 

Tip #2: Observe the other person.

One of the most important skills in communication is being able to notice if the other person is ready for a conversation.

When you are nervous or excited to communicate with someone, you might rush into a conversation. But the other person might not be in the most receptive state. Maybe they have a lot on their mind. They could have had a frustrating day at work and are in their head about how to solve a problem.

Even if what you have to say is relevant and important to them, they might not be able to actually hear you. This has nothing to do with you or your ability to have a conversation. But you could easily mistranslate what happened and think they aren’t interested in what you have to say. 

By waiting until the person you want to talk to is in a receptive state, they’ll be more likely to engage with you. How can you notice if someone is ready for a conversation? You’ll want to pay attention to their body language and mood. Do they seem stressed? Are they engrossed in another activity that has their attention? 

I notice that I sometimes try to start conversations when someone is scrolling on their phone. But when I do this, the other person only hears a portion of what I say - if they even hear anything at all. I get frustrated that I’m not being listened to. But I should have never started a conversation when the other person is doing something else. I’m trying to be better about asking the other person if we can talk, instead of just launching into a discussion. 

Part of this involves being aware if the other person is ready for a conversation. Even if someone doesn’t look busy, they might have other things going on in their head that would prevent them from being able to communicate. So many communication problems can be solved by just waiting until everyone involved has the bandwidth for a conversation.

Tip #3: Ask questions.

Asking questions is one of the only ways you can understand where the other person is at in the conversation. If you don’t check in with them regularly throughout the conversation, it is more likely that miscommunication can occur. 

When you have a conversation, your message doesn’t get directly uploaded into the other person’s brain. Instead, the other person filters whatever you said and then decides what it means to them. You can never transmit a message exactly as you want the other person to receive it. You can only check in with them regularly to see how they are interpreting what you are saying.

This could mean what you said isn’t at all what the other person heard. Unless you ask them questions, you will have no idea if your message is being received. 

I experienced this recently with my mom. I was planning to go on a trip where I’d be gone for a couple months. A few weeks before I was getting ready to leave, I started telling her about my plans. We had two or three conversations about it leading up to my trip. Each time I would bring it up, she’d respond with an “ok,” or “sounds good.” I thought she understood what I was telling her.

The day I was supposed to leave, I went to see my family. My mom acted like it was the first time I was telling her I was going anywhere. She had not heard what I had been saying. If I had asked her questions during that initial conversation, or checked in with her at all, I would have known that she needed more clarification from me. And I wouldn’t have shocked her on the day I left. This situation made me feel so guilty for leaving my mom confused. 

When you’re trying to communicate, checking in and asking questions about what the other person is hearing can help you avoid feeling misunderstood down the line. You can clear up any confusion as it happens, instead of waiting until it becomes a bigger problem later.

Better Communication Takes Practice

If you’re nervous before conversations or feel like no one ever gets what you’re trying to say, you might start to feel isolated from others. But humans are meant to connect. And communication is one of the main tools we have to connect with other people. So if you feel like you can’t communicate, you might also feel alone.

But once you understand the basics of communication, you can start to have more impactful conversations with others. You don’t have to “fake it til you make it.” You can apply three easy techniques: 

  • Setting an intention for yourself and others before a conversation;
  • Noticing when someone is ready to communicate; and
  • Asking questions.

These tips are easy to put into practice and actually rooted in the biological fundamentals of how humans communicate. 

If you start applying these strategies and notice they are working for you, we would love to hear about your experience. Connect with us in our online community to access even more content and connect with others. In our community, you can explore articles centered around sharing vulnerable, authentic stories to help you start to create the life you want. You can also access a library of courses and build connections with others who want to change the world one relationship at a time.