Category Archives: Personal Development

How to Talk to People – Part 1: The Benefits of Conversation

Have you ever wished you could more easily talk to people?

Perhaps it’s that person you’ve taken a liking to, or you want to make more friends or network better. Or just not feel awkward in a room where you don’t know anyone. Or maybe you long to speak up when you hear a conversation that you have something to add to, but you don’t know how.

I used to be pretty shy, but gaming – among other things – helped me break out of my shell and talk to people. It’s changed my life in amazing ways.

It's okay if you're shy. You can still talk to people.
It’s okay if you’re shy. You can still talk to people.

If you’ve ever wanted to talk to people more easily, this series is for you.

And if you don’t see the benefits of talking to people, this article lists them for you. You’ll find many benefits for yourself, as well as others.

Have you ever had any of these thoughts?

  • “What’s the point of speaking up”
  • “Nobody cares what I have to say”
  • “I have nothing to talk about”
  • “They won’t like me”

Well, this article series can help you overcome all of those limiting beliefs. You’ll learn to strike up conversations easily which is a real confidence booster, in turn helping you get involved in even more conversations. It’s a bountiful cycle of confidence.

Lastly, if you’re already great at talking, this series also deals with listening. Are you as good a listener as you are a talker? If so, good work – this series will reinforce what you know. If you’re not sure, then come along and improve your confidence and conversations!

Ready to start? Okay, let’s talk about the benefits of talking.

The Benefits of Talking

There are too many benefits of talking to list, but we’re looking at 9 particular benefits today. Here’s the list, then we’ll delve deeper into each:

  1. Increase your confidence
  2. Increase your understanding of others
  3. Gain more control and be better understood
  4. Find things you have in common with other people
  5. Find out cool stuff you never knew before
  6. Discover opportunities you would have otherwise missed
  7. Improve existing relationships, build better new ones
  8. Build your reputation as a friendly and interesting person
  9. Make yourself and others feel good

1. Increase Confidence

Confidence can be hard to come, especially for introverts. But one of the funny things about confidence is the more you have the more you get.

It just takes baby steps to get there.

Can you recall a time you did something that took a lot of confidence, but once you did it you realised it wasn’t as hard or scary as you thought?

If you find talking to other people intimidating or challenging, doing more of it will make those feelings lessen. Soon, instead of fearing those conversations, you’ll look forward to them. And if you’re confident, you can help other people be confident too, without even trying.

2. Better Understand People

We all know not to judge a book by its cover, but we still do it too often.

Ever seen someone you judged to be a bit weird or mean or whatever, based on their appearance? Ever talked to them – or heard them talk – and completely reevaluated your perception?

"What a scary weirdo. Surely I'm not missing anything interesting by not talking to him..."
“What a weirdo. I won’t talk to him. Doubt I’m missing out on anything…”

How about when people assume things? Has anyone ever given you the cold shoulder over a misunderstanding? If they’d just talked to you, they would’ve better understood you and the whole thing could have been avoided.

Talking to people lets you understand them. Their needs, their talents, their motivations, their goals, their personality. And better understanding people lets you better interact with them.

3. Gain More Control & Be Better Understood

Do people assume you don’t have an opinion because you don’t speak up? Do you just go along with things? When someone asks your opinion do you often shrug or say you don’t mind when really you do have thoughts on the matter? You may not be in control and you’re probably not understood – sometimes, you’re completely misunderstood, which can be worse!

I’ve played roleplaying games before, where a player doesn’t seem to engage, doesn’t say much, but nods when you asked if they had fun.

You want them to enjoy themselves, but it’s hard to know what they want.

I had a player like that and found out – by talking to them – they loved stealth and stories of falling to the dark side. So I added more of that in!

If only they had told me sooner, they would have been sneaking around facing moral in-game choices much earlier.

Obi-Wan & Anakin
Everyone happy to play as Jedi? Obi-Wan: “Yep!” Anakin: “…”

Even things as simple as asking your boss for a raise, a promotion or a new project can work. Expressing yourself can remind them they should’ve given you that raise long ago, or remind them of a project they know about that you’d be perfect for. They just didn’t think of you til you asked! You’ll appear proactive, too; a great quality to have.

When you talk, you can make yourself better understood. And, in turn, that gives you more control.

4. Find Things In Common

When I first saw my now-wife, I saw a quiet woman wearing The One Ring.

I started a conversation with her, knowing we had that shared interest. Turns out we had a lot in common and got along really well. We’ve been married for five years now, together for almost twice that.

They have one common interest to rule them all.

If she hadn’t worn that ring, maybe we wouldn’t have had that first talk.

Yet, people don’t usually wear conversation pieces and signs to indicate their interests. People who do, like pop culture mash-up shirts, you know you’ve got an in. But people who don’t, and are encountered outside a nerd haven like a convention, you don’t know what you’ve got in common with.

So talk. Ask. Find out. It’s the only way.

And once you find one thing – anything – in common, the rest of the conversation comes easier.

What’s awesome about it, too, is if you talk to someone outside your normal circles and find some common ground, you’ve expanded your social network and made a new acquaintance who might just turn out to be more than that, or lead you to even more new people.

5. Discover Cool New Things

In the last week I’ve learnt about a lot of cool games I’d never head of, as well as plant genomes, how to run a Kickstarter, that there is an Oculus Rift convention next week in L.A. and secrets about the Steam dinner at PAX.

How? I talked to people.

You never know what awesome stuff people know until you talk to them.

6. Discover Hidden Opportunities

Once, I got a free hotel for the weekend. How? By asking someone their weekend plans. They had won a hotel stay but were busy out of state, so they gave it to me – for free.

Ask an entrepreneur the best ways to grow business and I bet networking and word-of-mouth are right there at the top. I’ve found that myself.

Discovering hidden opportunities is like discovering cool new things that you can act on that give you some benefit. It’s hearing about job offers, deals, a party invite, a spare Steam key, something your conversation partner can hook you up with. It’s not greedy though. Opportunities like this flow naturally from conversation.

It's a secret to everybody... until you ask.
It’s a secret to everybody… if nobody ever talks to them.

Talking to people, and engaging with them, lets you discover hidden opportunities. They’re only hidden because you haven’t opened the conversation yet.

6. Build Better Relationships

Communication is key in any relationship, whether that be love, friendship, work or something else.

Relationships can’t grow without conversation. You get stuck and you’ve got things you want to express but you can’t get them across. The other person then doesn’t understand what you want from them and the relationship ceases to grow, and maybe even withers.

Let people know how you feel, what you’re thinking, and ask them, too.

Better relationships are very fulfilling. Like me, you may have had friends since high school who you think you know, and you do, but there’s a deeper level. Talking, in the ways I’ll show you later in this article series, can deepen and strengthen those relationships, old or new.

8. Build A Good Reputation

When you talk to people and create a rapport with them it builds your good reputation. They remember you and how nice it was to chat with you. They introduce you to their friends or business connections. You needn’t have an agenda, just a conversation.

Having a good reputation opens new conversation options.

Building a good reputation feels great and boosts your confidence even more. It’s pretty easy too,  especially when you use the tips I’ll give you in the next part of this series.

They’re not sneaky tips, either. You don’t need to manipulate anyone (including yourself) to have a good conversation. You get to feel good and help others feel good. And you get to relax!

Think you can’t relax in a conversation? Well, tune in next time to learn how. For now, let’s talk about the feeling good part.

9. Make Everyone Feel Good

When you make someone feel good, they associate you with that feeling.

I had a dog who was startled by a friend of mine wearing black. She hated that colour clothing for the rest of her life. She associated the feeling of fear with that colour clothing.

People aren’t that different. If you’ve had a good time at a movie, with a game or even at a restaurant, are you more likely to recommend it to a friend? Speak highly of it? Seek it out again? Trust recommendations made by the people who made the thing you like?

It’s the same with conversations.

Talking can make everyone feel good. And isn’t that a pretty noble cause?

Open Chat

So, that’s Part 1 of How To Talk To People. Now you know why to talk to people, in the next part of the series we’ll discuss how to do that. These tips will be simple but effective ways to really make talking to people fun, easy and beneficial for everyone.

If you’d like to talk more, there’s plenty of room in the comments below. Something to get us started: What are some more benefits of talking? When has talking resulted in some unexpected awesomeness for you?

Skyrim Wisdom – Part 1: Exploration & Curiosity

The world is such a big place. So many things to see. Towns, mountains, dragons… oh, I was talking about Skyrim, by the way. It’s easy to get lost in Skyrim’s expansive world.

What would happen if we took that sense of exploration and curiosity and applied it to our everyday lives? Curious? Let’s explore that question. Continue reading Skyrim Wisdom – Part 1: Exploration & Curiosity

Blasting Off Again: How To Constantly Fail; A Primer From Team Rocket

Sometimes it helps to look at why other people or organisations have failed. Where they’ve taken a wrong turn or how they keep on failing. Doing so can help us notice signs of such mistakes, avoid them and reach success.

So… Prepare for trouble. Make it double. Jessie! James! Meowth!

Team Rocket Trio

That’s right!

Today we’re learning from the anti-example of success: Team Rocket!

Follow even a handful of these tips and you’re well on your way to failure! Continue reading Blasting Off Again: How To Constantly Fail; A Primer From Team Rocket

Open the Iris: How Stargate can help us control our social filters

You know how some people just say whatever they’re thinking, no matter how inappropriate? It’s like their internal Stargate is open and they just let anything through. And some of that stuff can be as harmful as the goa’uld.

Most of us have an ‘iris’, a social filter, that lets us control what comes out of our mouths. Sometimes, this iris is locked closed, though, without us even knowing it.

In this article we’ll look at this social filter and ways to control so it opens and closes whenever you want it to.

Open the Iris Continue reading Open the Iris: How Stargate can help us control our social filters

Low Battery: Giving 100% When You’re Not Feeling 100%

Everyone gets sick, sometimes. How can you give 100% when you’re not feeling 100%?

Well, the key is that you can only work with 100% of what you’ve got at the time. Your 100% when you’re sick is going to be different than your 100% when you’re well and healthy.

And it’s okay to give 80% or 50% or take a sick day and rest up to get back to full health.

I've heard of Man Flu, but not Spider-Man Flu!
Heard of Man Flu? Spider-Man Flu is even worse!

Continue reading Low Battery: Giving 100% When You’re Not Feeling 100%

Hooked on a Feeling: 7 life tips from Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy opened this week and proved to be a really fun movie that still manages to teach us about friendship, surrogate families, dealing with your lot in life, communication, supporting each other and unlikely heroes.

We already talked about missed opportunities, like the one young Peter Quill has at the start of the film, so I won’t recap that here. Instead, enjoy a lightly spoilery run down of 7 tips from Guardians of the Galaxy about making the most out of life.

Continue reading Hooked on a Feeling: 7 life tips from Guardians of the Galaxy

Over 9000: Goal setting with Goku

Have you ever set a lofty goal – maybe it seemed nearly impossible – yet, when you met it you found yourself already thinking about even loftier goals? How can that be? What does that say about that earlier goal? How can you keep setting higher and higher goals? Won’t you burn out?

Goku and the other Dragon Ball warriors do this sort of goal setting all the time. Let’s see how they handle it.

Vegeta and Nappa couldn’t believe Goku’s power reading was over 9000.

That was season one.

Soon, Goku – and Vegeta himself – are dealing with much, much higher power levels. Numbers like a hundred thousand would have been previously unimaginable. Yet, several seasons later they’re dealing with power levels in the hundreds of millions.

So, how does this work?

Basically: by the time you reach a goal, you’ve grown and changed and have different priorities.

Remember high school? Just passing exams was at the top of most people’s minds. However, by the final year you’re thinking about university and jobs and all sorts of stuff in the big wide world you couldn’t have fathomed a year or two before.

By the time we reach a goal, we’re not the same person we were when we set that goal.

By the time we reach a goal, we’re not the same person we were when we set that goal. On the way to our goal we’ve grown and learned and changed. The person we are by the time we get there has higher goals in mind. And once we reach them, we’ll set other goals. And so it continues.

And that’s why we keep setting new goals, but don’t necessarily burn out.

It also doesn’t lessen the importance of the earlier goals. Setting and reaching that earlier goal was important. That’s how you got here, how you’re able to set a higher goal.

Just like when Goku trains in the hyberbolic time chamber, or when a pair of warriors combine their powers in a Fusion Dance, the result is a different, more powerful person.

But they don’t stop there. There’s always some bigger challenge out there. They’re always striving higher. And so can we.

So, when you find yourself wondering about goals you’ve set, just think: who was I then? Who am I now? What goals can I set now thanks to setting and moving towards that goal back then?

Open Chat

When have you neared or reached a goal only to realise you had bigger fish to fry? What’s something that’s been your hyberbolic time chamber – something that changed you rapidly and allowed you to meet your goal and set new ones? Let us know in the comments below.

Huff & Puff: Lessons from The Wolf Among Us about living with your actions

The Wolf Among Us is full of uncertain choices. So is life, except you can’t reload. Have you ever made a choice and regretted it later?

Bigby Wolf sure has.

Did your decision have unexpected consequences? What happens when a similar situation comes up and you feel like doing the same thing again is right this time, despite what happened before?

How do you choose? It can be a real head-scratcher.

Bigby Head Scratching

Here are some lessons from the game about living with your actions and their consequences. (Scenes from the game are talked about in general terms and  specific spoilers are hidden).

Continue reading Huff & Puff: Lessons from The Wolf Among Us about living with your actions

A man chooses, a slave obeys: 3 lessons from BioShock about choice & control

We all lament that we don’t have as much choice and control over our lives as we’d like. Bad weather, abrasive people, overwhelming workloads. Out of our control, right?

But what if we have more control than we think?

What if we just need to look at things from a different perspective to gain control and realise choices we never thought we had?

In this article we’ll learn what BioShock can teach us about choice and control.

If you haven’t played it, you can currently get BioShock for a dollar via Humble Bundle until 23 July 2014. To avoid spoilers, would you kindly finish the game before reading on.

Spoilers lie ahead for the original BioShock. Big unmarked spoilers.

If you’re cool with that, read on.

Continue reading A man chooses, a slave obeys: 3 lessons from BioShock about choice & control