We have conversations every day. Some are short and some are deep, but great ones are always memorable and follow a basic set of guidelines. In this post we'll teach you the characteristics of meaningful conversations and how to have more of them.
Be Present: Clear Your Mental Plate
Meaningful conversation is an important skill and requires our full attention. We show our interest in and value of the conversation by limiting distractions and distracted behavior. From body cues to eye contact, our fist step in fostering sincere conversation is more about what is shown; not what is said.
Our first interaction often sets the tone for the conversation. The greeting should be encouraging and sincere. If appropriate, shake hands while standing. It is also important to match the mood of your conversation partner in order to signal empathy and understanding.
Ask insightful questions:
Questions with 'yes' or 'no' answers are the demise of meaningful conversation. Insightful questions can help spur conversation and lead to deeper connections and understanding. Asking "What do you think about..." or "Do you have experience or insight into..." help to foster thought and collaboration.
Let people know when they've helped you:
One of the easiest starters for a conversation is "Thank you!" Whether it was information or advice, showing gratitude is an automatic conversation starter. It also invites elaboration and transfer of experiential knowledge that would be difficult to find otherwise.
Listen to understand- not to respond:
Meaningful conversations are built on mutual respect, perspective, and experience. Actively listening to understand is an important step toward that goal. Consciously reign the urge to upstage or interject. Allow your partner to take the lead and explore their thoughts.
While there are many more tips surrounding tone, body language, and purpose, these few tips will help stir curiosity into creating more meaningful conversation. Practice one at a time and notice the changes that occur in the interaction.
Finally, we would always suggest cultivating meaningful conversations over a rich, flavorful coffee such as Cadillac Mountain Blend or Mainsail.