Having Better Conversations
Ideas to talk with anyone.
Whether you're talking to X or Y, you can have a meaningful, interesting, and fun conversation. Here are tips to help you have a genuinely great conversation.
In the best conversations, people walk away feeling energized, inspired, and connected
Don't physically multitask. Don't mentally multitask, either.
If someone is talking, and you're thinking about a work project or dinner plans, you're mentally multitasking. When you're in a conversation, be all-in.
Go into the conversation with the expectation that you're about to learn something new.
Remember the listening skills of the best communicators.
Ask open-ended questions, like "What was that like?" or "What was going on in your mind?" or "Say more about..."
When your mind chatters, bring your attention back to the person you're talking with.
When someone is talking, it will trigger all kinds of thoughts and connections for you. Sometimes, they are interesting, and sometimes you have questions, and sometimes you have the urge to humble-brag. Bring your attention back to the person speaking. Listen to their words, watch their body language, try to feel what they are feeling. This creates a shared experience. This creates empathy and connection and wisdom.
Don't be boring: Don't share irrelevant details. Don't repeat yourself. Don't over-explain.
Keep your credibility: If you don't know something, don't say you do. Stay kind. Stay deliberate with your words.
And if the person you're talking with is boring? Or arrogant? Or goes on and on and on?
We all have conversations where we aren't finding value and aren't offering valuable support. We've all been there. If you've given the conversation a sincere chance, find a graceful way to end the conversation.
First, put a break in the conversation. Maybe move around, or politely interrupt them, saying something like: "Aahh--sorry to interrupt--I remembered I have to take care of something."
After you've put a break in the conversation, quickly and firmly end it. You could say something like: "I'm going to let you go." or "It was good to talk with you. Have a great day today."
It's not unusual for someone to acknowledge that the conversation should end, but then continue speaking. Try the tactic again, or tweak it.
Resources and Citations
- "Four ways in which a person can respond to someone else when something happens, including good events such as a raise at work: (1) Active-constructive responding--an enthusiastic response: "That's great; I bet you'll receive many more raises."; (2) Active-destructive responding--a response that points out the potential downside: "Are they going to expect more of you now?"; (3) Passive constructive responding--a muted response: "That's nice dear."; Passive-destructive responding-- a response that conveys disinterest: "It rained all day here." ... Couples who use active-constructive responding have good marriages. The other responses, if they dominate are associated with marital dissatisfaction. Although this research has only been done in the context of marriage, it may well generalize to other relationships." Sadock, Benjamin J., et al. Kaplan and Sadock's Synopsis of Psychiatry: Behavioral Sciences/Clinical Psychiatry. United States, Wolters Kluwer Health, 2014.