In my past life as a professional dating coach, I was paid money to sit and listen to people having conversations.
I would head to a bar with my client, we would meet new and interesting people, and I would sit in an inconspicuous position listening to the entire conversation before giving feedback at the end.
Over 7 years, I would have listened to thousands of conversations from an objective, outside position, and it taught me something incredibly valuable about how to improve your communication skills.
The lesson was that 95% of people don’t need to improve their communication skills. They need to unprove their communication skills.
Let me explain.
A typical conversation
Most well-intentioned conversations start with a polite greeting followed by a positive response and some polite remarks about some safe topic to start the ball rolling. From there, the conversation would drift down a familiar path where all the common tips about how to improve your communication were observed.
- Discussing socially acceptable topic
- Asking open-ended questions
- Active listening
- Being enthusiastic about the answers
- Mirroring body language
- Being positive, optimistic, and encouraging
These all resulted in a polite, socially acceptable, and incredibly fucking boring and meaningless conversations.
These are the same conversations everyone is having everywhere about the same topics with the same tone. Nothing of importance is said and even less is communicated, and you’ll walk away at the end without remembering how you wasted the last 20 minutes of your life. They’re safe, boring, dry, and empty of any real significance.
The Problems with a typical conversation
These pointless conversations all suffered from the same 7 problems:
Problem 1. It was all a lie
The first and most important problem here is that the whole conversation was a lie. I’m not talking about the words used or the ideas conveyed (I’m guessing that when you’re having a socially acceptable conversation, you at least tell the truth). It was a lie about who you are.
When you’re having a polite conversation constructed with socially acceptable standards, you’re lying about your intentions, desires, thoughts, and feelings. You’re living behind a mask. You’re presenting a false front to attempt to manipulate someone into talking to you.
Yes, manipulate. You’re attempting to get them to do something you want (talk to you) through altering their perception of you by lying. That’s manipulation.
I don’t know you and we’ve probably never met, but that’s not cool in my books.
Problem 2. You walk away feeling empty and lonely
Not only is lying and manipulation not cool, it’s also an incredibly ineffective way to connect with people. In fact, I’m comfortable saying it’s the MOST ineffective way of connecting with people.
There’s a whole article on how to form deep and powerful connections here that goes into the mathematical formula of it all, but the basics is that the more shallow and fake you’re being, the more lonely and empty you’ll feel once you’re done.
Once again, I don’t know you and we’ve probably never met, but if you’re anything like the entire population of the earth, I’m guessing you want more real and deep connections with people so this isn’t a good path to walk.
Problem 3. That conversation doesn’t fit anyone’s vision
When you think about your vision of your perfect life, specifically, the conversations and interactions you have with people in your vision of your perfect life, what do they look like?
- What kind of people are you talking to?
- What do you talk about?
- How do you talk about those things?
And how is that different from this regular, safe, socially acceptable conversation described above?
No-one is dreaming of talking about the weather. No-one is driven to find more shallow people to politely debate relevant, semi-controversial news topics about. No-one wants to hide who they are behind some thin facade while discussing things they don’t care about.
Typical conversations don’t take you closer to the life you want to live. They don’t enrich your world with inspiring people doing incredible things while you have meaningful conversations about important topics.
Problem 4. You communicated everything you didn’t want to
While polite conversations lack any real meat in terms of meaningful information about the world, they do say something about you: I have no substance.
- I am not meaningful
- I am not significant
- I am not doing anything inspiring with my life
- I have no passion or purpose
The only thing that polite, boring, meaningless conversations communicate is that you are polite, boring, and meaningless. Is that what you want to communicate? Is that how you want to be remembered (if you’re remembered at all)? Is that what you want your legacy to be? Is that the example you want to set for your children?
No, I didn’t think so.
Problem 5. You reinforce terrible habits
The common response to pointing out all these problems is: “Yeah, but I’m just being polite. This is how the world works. This is just what you have to do.”
That, my friend, is bullshit.
At one point in time, every unconscious reaction you currently have – both productive and unproductive – was a conscious decision. You decided to act in a particular way and repeated it enough to deeply ingrain that pattern into your brain to a point where you did it without thinking.
This is what you’re doing if you routinely stumble blindly through a typical conversation. You’re reinforcing unproductive habits that lead to meaningless conversations and introducing yet another barrier you have to overcome when you eventually decide you’re ready to start living your life on your terms.
Problem 6. They’re boring
Socially acceptable conversations are really boring… No-one really cares about the weather or traffic or some other banal, socially correct topic of conversation. No-one. No-one is excited about how you vacuumed your apartment on the weekend. No-one is enthusiastic about hearing about your cat. No-one.
Not them. Not you. Not a casual bystander who happened to walk past and fall into the empty black-hole of your conversation.
No-one’s life is more exciting or fulfilling because of a typical conversation.
Problem 7. You will never get that time back
Your life is limited. You won’t live forever. You have a finite number of minutes, hours, days, and weeks to live a rewarding, happy, fulfilling, life and these ‘typical conversations’ that don’t get you closer are chewing into that time.
Do you think that when you’re lying on your deathbed as your clock ticks away that you’ll reminisce about these pointless conversations with fondness and entertain your surrounding loved ones with details about the empty bullshit you spoke about?
No, I don’t either.
Fixing a Typical Conversation
For all the reasons outlined above, typical conversations are pretty shit. They’re empty, meaningless, and unfulfilling – which unsurpringly, no-one enjoys.
There are two solutions to this situation.
Firstly, you can try to improve your communication skills by adding additional layers of ineffective techniques and structures to your already destructive arsenal of conversational weaponry.
You can improve your open ended questions, you can learn new body language techniques, you can rehearse how to look interested and can develop your levels of pretend enthusiasm, which will all combine to make you more efficient at creating meaningless and empty conversations.
Yes, that’s just about as rewarding as it sounds.
Or, if you ever want to develop deep and real connections with interesting people while having empowering, fulfilling, and interesting conversations, you can unprove your communication skills.
Unproving your communications skills
First of all, before you look it up, no, unproving is not a word. It’s something I made up. And because I made it up, I get to define it. I choose: unproving is the opposite of improving.
In this case, unproving your communication skills is the opposite of improving your communication skills.
Instead of adding techniques, structures, processes, and layers of bullshit into your communication style, you strip it off. You clear the slate and get it right back to the bare, raw, and real you.
- Instead of discussing socially acceptable topics, you discuss topics you want to discuss with the people you want to discuss them with
- Instead of asking open ended questions because that’s what you’re supposed to do, you only ask specific questions you want answered and you ask them in the way that will get you the answer you want, when you want it
- Instead of praticising active listening, just talk to people you want to talk to about things you care about so you actually want to listen to their responses
- Instead of pretending to be enthusiastic about the answers they give, be honest. If you don’t like them, tell them. If you do, tell them. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Just be real
- Instead of mirroring body language, don’t even think about body language. Body language is a reflection of how you feel. Being real, authentic, and honest will make you feel more relaxed and open and your body language will mirror that
- Being positive, optimistic, and encouraging when you’re really not makes you seem like a dancing monkey. Just be honest and real and build genuine connections with real people
Doing this results in powerful, meaningful, engaging, untypical conversations with interested parties and even more interesting conclusions.
An Untypical Conversation
Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, this is what an untypical looks like:
You may or may not be familiar with that scene. If you’re not, go and watch Fight Club right now. If you are, you’re a good person.
In it, Edward ‘typical conversation’ Norton (grey suit) is meeting Brad ‘untypical conversation’ Pitt (red jacket) on an aeroplane for the first time. Edward Norton is attempting to have a typical conversation. He asks generic questions and gives polite and socially acceptable answers while disguising his true beliefs and ideas behind a forced smirk.
Brad Pitt has unproved his communication skills. He just says what he’s thinking, regardless of what is socially acceptable with his true feelings plastered across his face.
Watch that video again. Who would you rather be talking to? Yeah, me too.
How unproving your conversations fixes problems
Unproving your conversations fixes every problem with typical conversations.
Solution 1. It’s not a lie
When you unprove your conversations, they’re not a lie. You’re not hiding or pretending or trying to shield the other person from discovering who you really are. You’re just you: real, raw, and present. No filters, no barriers, no lies.
Solution 2. You walk away feeling connected
When you unprove your conversations, you form real and power connections with people because you’re being real. As with solution 1, you’re not hiding or pretending, you’re putting yourself out there for the world to see and it allows you to connect with people who share your thoughts and dreams and desires.
Solution 3. It fits your vision
Once again, I don’t know you and we’ve probably never met, but I’m going take a wild stab in the dark and guess that in your vision of your perfect life, you have real, honest, and meaningful conversations with people. You don’t hide. You don’t pretend. You don’t try to pull that thin veil over your face and hide your true desires and intentions. You just say what you want, when you want to, and let the chips fall where they may.
I know this because I’m a fucking psychic and know all your dirty secrets (yes, even that one you just thought about that you keep hidden because you think people will judge you). I also know this because it’s the same desire as the entire fucking world.
Unproving your communication skills allows you to have these kinds of conversations because, once again, you’re not pretending to be someone you’re not.
Solution 4. You communicate what you want to
When you’re real, honest, and direct in your communication, you actually end up communicating everything you want to communicate about yourself without even trying.
You communicate that you’re honest, direct, driven, authentic, and real because you’re being honest, direct, driven, authentic, and real. Shocking, I know…
Solution 5. You reinforce powerful habits
Unproving your skills and communicating in a way that aligns with your vision of your perfect life reinforces that habit. It trains your brain to just be real and honest and authentic with people.
This training and repetition ingrains that pattern deeper and deeper into your psyche and it becomes easier to do.
Solution 6. Your conversations are interesting
When you’re real, honest, and authentic, your conversations become interesting.
They’re about topics that you care about and your honest expression of your thoughts and opinions creates conflict and emotion and energy. What more do you need?
Sure, they might not last as long and some people might find you off-putting, but at least they’ll remember you.
Solution 7. Your using the valuable minutes of your life productively
Instead of wasting your time doing something that add no value to your life, you’re spending it doing something powerful. You’re forming powerful habits that help you create deep connections with real people in a genuine and authentic way.
How to unprove your communication skills
Now, the fun part. There are actually two parts to the solution. One surface level, and one deep. We’ll start with the surface level because it’s simple and easy and you can so it right now and start having fun and interesting conversations in less than 5 minutes.
After that, we’ll get to the deep solution which will provide more of a longterm solution that will not only improve your communication skills, but also, just about every other part of your life.
The Surface Level Solution
The surface level solution for unproving your communication skills is a quick, 4-step process. In fact, you don’t even need to do the first step if you’re already semi-aware of your thoughts, beliefs desires, which makes it a three-step process.
Here’s how you do it.
Step 1. Get in touch with your core belief
The essence of unproving your communication skills is just being real, honest, and authentic. To do that, you first need to get in touch with your core beliefs. If you don’t know what you believe then you can’t express it.
So, what do you believe?
Not such an easy question to answer when there are so many topics to cover.
- What is your honest, real, and authentic opinion of the current political climate?
- What is your honest, real, and authentic opinion of the trending local news story?
- What is your honest, real, and authentic opinion of the local sporting team?
- What is your honest, real, and authentic opinion of the best fries in the immediate vicinity?
I can’t give you the answers to all of these as they’re questions you have to answer on your own, but I can you with the most important one: how do you want to live your life?
This is the most important question because it covers so many different topics:
- What do you believe is the right way to treat people?
- What do you believe is the right way to engage in your work?
- What do you believe is the right way to care for you health?
- What do you believe is the right way to express yourself?
- What is your vision of how society should work?
- What do you want to do for a living?
- Where do you want to live?
- What kind of people do you want to associate with?
- What do you want to eat for breakfast?
- How many kids do you want to have?
And so many more. Creating your vision of your perfect life will give you clarity about how you want your world and the world around you to look and operate and so will give you a powerful platform for unproving your communication skills.
My 13 years of working with clients through this process has shown me there are a few quirks and pitfalls to watch out for on the way. You can read all about them here: How to create your vision of your perfect life.
As I said in the intro to this section, if you’re already semi-aware of your beliefs and thoughts and desires then you don’t need to go through this. If you already know enough opinions to guide yourself through most conversations, then skip it. Go straight to step 2.
But, you will never have negative side effects from being more deeply connected to your core desires to if you have some spare time and like the idea of being deeply aware of who you are and what you believe it, it’s worth spending your spare time on creating your vision.
Step 2. Find someone you actually want to communicate with
The leading cause of insincere, boring, and difficult conversations is trying to communicate with someone you don’t actually want to communicate with. It’s trying to force a meaningful conversation when there’s nothing meaningful to talk about. It’s trying to connect deeply with someone when you have nothing deep to connect on. It’s trying to force a verbal square peg down their round ear canal.
The easiest way to avoid this is to find someone you actually want to communicate with. When there’s someone you actually want to communicate with, your communication doesn’t need to be forced. You don’t need to practice active listening to your opened questions. You just communicate like two normal human beings.
It’s heaps easier.
Step 3. Communicate about the thing you want to communicate about
Now we’re getting into the really intricate, delicate, and difficult techniques.
Once you’ve identified what you truly believe and found someone you want to communicate with, communicate with them about the things you want to communicate with them about.
- Ask them about the things you actually care about
- Listen to their answers when they respond
- If you require more explanation, ask for it
- If they say something you disagree with, disagree with them
- If they say something interesting you’d like to know more about, lead the conversation towards that topic
- If you have a relevant story you think they’d be interested in hearing, share it
TA-DA. Magic. You’re now a master of communication.
Step 4. Stop communicating with them when you’re done
Once your conversation has run it’s course and there’s nothing more you wish to communicate about, move on. Don’t linger like an 8 year old around the presents on Christmas eve. Thank them, wish them farewell, and be on your way.
The Deep Solution
The short term solution for unproving your communication is fun and easy for anyone who simply has a bad habit of following social rules and wants to break it.
But, in most cases, these habits are created by a core mechanism that needs shifting for there to be any longterm change. To make sure you have the tools to deal with this core issue (if you are facing it), here’s a breakdown of the process.
IMPORTANT: The deep solution to unproving your communication is a contextualised version of the core mechanism used at LifeOS for dealing with every single issue you’re facing based on the basic decision making process used by all people – your Script.
This breakdown will briefly cover both steps but if you want a full and detailed description of that decision making process and the core mechanism responsible for every challenge you’re facing, you can read it here.
Step 1. Understand
The first step in dealing with this core issue is understanding the basic process that created it so you can start to change it.
There’s a full breakdown of the basic reason why you do anything in life – why you have the thoughts you have, why you make the decisions you make, and why you take the actions you take – here. It’s a breakdown of the basic framework humans use to interpret, understand, and engage with the world.
It’s a little long so I’ll give you a brief description here, but you can always refer back to it if you need to.
The very, very, very short version is that everything you do, you do for a reason. You don’t just develop habits for no reason, you develop them because they get you what you want. You’re desire driven and are always attempting to move towards your goal.
This means: you’re having boring conversations for a reason. They’re not accidental or some fluke of nature. You’re consciously or unconsciously choosing to have them to get something you want.
That goal is experience. Not ‘doing something and seeing how it goes’, but ‘the physical sensation created by your perception of yourself in relation to the world around you’. It’s changing how you feel based on how you perceive your relationship to the people, events, and activities occurring in your immediate perceptual vicinity.
If you perceive that you can change the world in the way you want, you will experience power. If you don’t, you’ll feel powerless. If you perceive you have significant emotional commonalities with people, you will experience connection. If you don’t, you’ll feel isolated. There are plenty other different experiences, but this gives you the idea.
This means: The reason you’re having typical conversations is to change your experience of life. You want to feel powerful or connected or free or significant or included and you think having typical conversations is the best way to do it.
The problem you have in any part of your life isn’t created by your current experience or your desire experience, but how you try to bridge the gap between the two. Specifically, you have a mechanism for changing your experience that relies on too many elements outside your influence leaving you with too little control over your life experience. You’re too Dependent leaving you with no ability to give yourself what you want.
This means: At this point in time, you believe the experience you desire needs to be fulfilled from the outside. You need a response to, or outcome of your polite conversations in order to fulfil your desired experience. You need someone to say something nice or for them to want to talk to you or for everyone to laugh at your jokes or something in between to feel powerful or free or significant or connected or whatever word works best for you.
The solution to this situation is to find pathways for fulfilling your desired experience that put you in control. It’s to become more Independent.
This means: The way to let go of having polite, boring, typical conversations is to find another way to fulfil your desired experience that doesn’t rely on the reaction to, or the outcome of your actions to fulfil your desired experience. It’s to find ways to feel powerful or connected or free, regardless of what people say or do while they’re talking to you. Finding an alternate path will result in you not needing to have typical conversations to get what you want from life.
Like I said, this is an EXTREMELY brief breakdown of this framework so if you find yourself wanting more, head here.
Step 2. Identify your core desire
As I said above, everything you do, you do for a reason – this includes having safe, socially acceptable, boring conversations. You’re doing it because you want to get something from it. You’re doing it for experience. To change something, you first need to identify why you’re doing it, so what experience are you seeking? Here are a few words that people have used to describe their desired experience:
- Safe – free from harm and danger
- Powerful – in control of your life and your world
- Significant – important and respected
- Connected – you have a link to those around you
- Included – you’re part of something
- Free – you can do what you want, when you want to
What’s your desired experience? Does one of those words adequately describe your desired experience? Or do you have a word that’s a better fit?
If you’re having trouble identifying that core desired experience, imagine yourself having the best conversation you’ve ever had. Who’s there? What’s going on? What happens and in what order? And what is your experience when it’s done? Whatever that experience is, that’s your core desire.
Step 3. Identify a more effective way of fulfilling that desire
Normally, at this point in time, the next step is to identify the pathway you’re using to try and fulfil that desire, but we don’t need to do it here. We know how you’re trying to fulfil your desired experience – having boring, polite, and safe conversations. So, we can skip that step and move onto the next – finding a more effective way.
This step is a little tricky to work through fully via a few paragraphs in at the end of an article because it’s heavily dependent on your self awareness, your level of experience with these kinds of concepts, and your current life situation, but I’ll give it a crack.
The essence of this step is this one question: what’s a more effective way for fulfilling your desired experience that puts you more in control?
- How can you feel more powerful in a way that relies less on things outside your control and more on things inside your control?
- How can you feel more significant in a way that relies less on things outside your control and more on things inside your control?
- How can you feel more connected in a way that relies less on things outside your control and more on things inside your control?
You get the idea.
Like I said, explaining this fully would take a LONG time, but there is a somewhat useful breakdown of the most common core desire related to this issue (connection) here: How to form deep connections in a world full of shallow acquaintances
It will give you an understanding of how you can shift from relying on things outside your control (what people say, what people do, how many people are around you, how real they’re being) and find your connection through avenues related to things you control (the people you choose to speak to, your level of realness, etc…).
Step 4. Do it
Your reliance on thin, shitty conversations won’t change until you start fulfilling your core desire through a different pathway. This means that in order to change, you need to take action and start using this new pathway you’ve identified.
Whatever it is, whatever you need to do, find a way to do it.
If you’re unsure, stuck, confused, or curious about something and need guidance, post your question in the comments below and we’ll help you out.
Learning how to improve your communication skills is a waste of time because it’ll just result in boring, insincere, fake conversations. The real way to have memorable, powerful, and rewarding conversations is to unprove you conversations.
Unproving your conversations involves stripping away all the bullshit, socially acceptable crap and being real, honest, and authentic. You can do this in two different ways: the shallow and the deep.
There are four simple steps in the shallow process:
- Get in touch with your core beliefs
- Find someone you actually want to communicate with
- Communicate with them about the things you want to communicate about
- Stop communicating with them when you’re done
There are also four steps in the deep process:
- Understand the process
- Identify your core desire
- Find a more effective way to fulfil your core desire
- Do it
Following this process will help you have fun, interesting, and fulfilling communications with other people in a way that takes you closer to the life you want to live.