Making A Conversation Work

Happy 2014! A fresh new year, perhaps the start of something different, or an enterprising approach to something more familiar?

Good ConversationI had the opportunity to meet a variety of different people over the past few weeks, many from different parts of the world. Our conversations were interesting and fun, because even if we did not speak the same language, we still managed to share information. It’s amazing what body language, a smile and laughter can convey.

I compared those experiences to a conversation I had with someone just recently. The secret to being a good conversationalist is not in what you say but in how you listen. Asking questions, responding appropriately, and showing genuine interest in the other person is what makes a conversation work, and it leaves people with a positive impression of you. A good conversation should also include a give and take between the parties, creating an exchange that is mutually interesting.

So what happens when only one person does the work? In my conversation, the other party was happy to answer my questions in detail, and her responses gave me more things to ask about, but she added nothing to the conversation of her own accord. Even as I attempted to steer our remarks towards a mutual, or neutral subject, she didn’t bite. It felt like an interview and it was exhausting.

Remember …

Part of being in a conversation is a reciprocal sharing of information. It can be a struggle to build and/or maintain a conversation that is one-sided, and it definitely becomes tiresome. Don’t keep the conversation about yourself. Think about developing and building relationships.

How do people feel when they walk away from a conversation with you?

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