Think about two or three conversations you had over the last week.
Were they enjoyable? Or as painful as a visit to the dentist?
What about those conversations kept your interest? What entertained you, engaged you, made you smile, or made you laugh? What caused you to listen intently?
Now ask yourself the opposite questions.
What about those conversations put you to sleep? What was boring, disengaging, uninteresting? What caused you to tune out?
13 STEPS TO MORE MEANINGFUL CONVERSATIONS
Conversations too often result in “wasted time… [with] nothing productive to show for it,” says John Hall, co-founder and CEO of Influence & Co.
Be they conversations with a coworker, family member, or a new acquaintance, Hall suggests we can use “specific tactics to have a more meaningful conversation.”
Writing for Forbes, Hall offers 13 steps we can actively take to improve the effectiveness of our conversations.
1. Don’t get too excited about your next thought.
Too often when talking with another our thoughts are focused more on what we want to say versus what is being shared with us. People know when we aren’t listening. “Make it a point to listen before you speak,” Hall says. “If your story’s really interesting, it will still be interesting in five minutes.”
2. Ask good questions that show you’re engaged.
Curiosity does more than kill the proverbial cat. Natural curiosity shows sincere interests and creates an engaging conversation. Hall suggests we “make it a point to ask at least one question before moving on to the next topic. Gathering details makes it more likely that you’ll be able to establish a connection with the other person or find a way you can lend a hand.”
3. Do your homework without being creepy.
Preparing yourself for a planned conversation will help you find common connections. Checking out a social media accounts and talking to others who may know them can help. When you more you have an advantage. However, Hall cautions “there’s a thin line between properly preparing yourself for a conversation and being creepy.”
4. Try to genuinely relate.
Hall reminds us the “most important conversations we have are with those people who… [we are] trying to form relationships with.” Fake or forced conversations are easily detected by our “fan club.” Try to find a genuine interest in what another is passionate about and build real rapport.
5. Don’t waste people’s time.
You value your time. So value the time of others. A lot can be said in 2-3 minutes if there is sincere value shown for each other.
6. Let people sell themselves.
Asking engaging questions and you’ll find other people will naturally want to share. In turn, most will naturally want to listen as you share. Some conversations will naturally transition to sales conversations. “A lot of times,” Hall says, “a person will self-identify a need right after you talk about what you do.” But don’t force the sales conversation, especially if it’s obvious there is no or little interest.
7. Ask how you can add value.
People know what they want better than you do. So ask them. When we know what others “actually prioritize,” Halls says, we’ll be “surprised how many opportunities come up to connect.”
8. Do what you can to help.
Offering help and then actually doing something about it will “differentiate you.”
9. Reach out in meaningful ways.
Pay attention to other, non-business aspects of a person’s life. You show sincere interest in another person when you recognize birthdays, anniversaries, and family or company celebrations. Also be sensitive to challenging times such as sickness or death of someone in their family or company.
10. Decrease personal barriers.
Remember, you are a real person with a real life. So is the person you are talking to. They want “real conversations,” Hall says. “If you see an opportunity to joke around or personalize a conversation, take it — even if it’s early. It will decrease barriers from the start, and the shift will enable you to have a better conversation.”
11. Listen and remember key points.
Listen. Pay attention. And listen better. Striving to remember something they are interested in or passionate about will strengthen your connection. One technique I use is jotting a quick note on their business card or sending an email to myself. Doing this as soon as feasible helps me remember what I learned.
12. Hold back on sharing how awesome you are.
We all like to talk about what we do, or express the point we are passionate about. Let your conversation naturally develop and you will find the right time to present your thoughts. “People will naturally think you’re awesome as the conversation develops,” Hall thinks. I agree!
13. Recognize other people.
Many conversations happen in a group, especially at a social event. Or a person may have their spouse or partner with them. In these situations, Hall encourages us to find ways to include these “outsiders” into our conversations. “Too often,” he says, “people are so focused on speaking to one person that they forget to include someone who could turn into a cheerleader for them after they leave.”
YOUR NEXT CONVERSATION
Taking time now to process these suggestions will help you Gain the Red Edge by being more prepared for your next conversation, be it minor or crucial, planned or spontaneous.
Have a great Monday! Thanks for letting me share.
p.s. Take 13 minutes today to enjoy one of these TED talks on The Art of Meaningful Conversation.
If you’re ready to “Gain The Red Edge” with your marketing in 2018, sign up for a powerful 30-minute complimentary coaching session that will help you focus and clarify your brand story to better connect with your customer’s story!