We’ve all had multiple conversations with people on a daily basis, but to really have a meaningful conversation is hard to come by. I always feel a great satisfaction and gratitude after walking out of an engaging conversation where I felt like I really connected with someone, instead of having just another small talk. But these events happen too sparse for many of us.
Creating meaningful talks are essential in order to connect with others. These talks could sometimes be the highlight of your day, and the person you connected with may end up being one of your closest friends later on, or open up new opportunities for you in the future.
Here are 5 fundamental, but crucial tips to creating meaningful conversations:
1. Be Present and Listen
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
When you’re in a conversation, do not multitask. This does not just mean simply putting your phone away, but also to really be in the present moment. Don’t think about what you’re going to have for dinner or what happened this today at work, really respect the speaker and actively listen (through eye contact and nodding), if you want to create a much more worthwhile conversation. Every meeting with another individual is sacred, we should all treasure those experiences.
2. Find Your Commonality
Find something that you and the other person have in common.Look for a topic that you both of you enjoy talking about, maybe it’s sports, TV shows, traveling, or pets that you have. You can learn more about others simply by asking for their opinions in certain topics, or through open ended questions. For example, ask them to describe a most recent vacation trip they had, or introduce a novel they’re reading currently. Through these topics, you will understand the other person better and will be able to extrapolate elements from their stories that interest you as well.
3. Go With the Flow
Have you seen interviews where the interviewer asks a random question that seemed out of place, or that the interviewee has answered already? That’s probably because the interviewer has already stopped listening half way through the conversation and is desperate to ask the “wonderfully great question” that he’s been crafting up inside his head. We should always listen to the speaker and when stories and ideas come to you, let them flow out.
This can be a challenge for people like me who get distracted easily with thoughts flowing frequently during a conversation. What I try to do is to have a notebook with me so I can quickly jog down key words of thoughts that crossed my mind, without zoning myself out. After the speaker finishes talking, I will be able to refer back to my notes to remember what I wanted to talk/ask about.
4. Be Sincere
“If you don’t know, say that you don’t know… talk should not be cheap.” – Celeste Headless, Ted Talk Speaker and Radio Host
Be truthful and really live up to what you say. Don’t make up or exaggerate things just to make yourself look good. Chances are people will find out eventually and your reputation is will be ruined. What we should all do is have a conversation that make others feel safe and being able to trust you and your words.
5. Prepare to be Amazed
“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t” – Bill Nye
Always be curious with every conversation you’ll have. Have an open mind and know that you can always learn something new from every person you’ll ever meet. Everyone is an expert is something, and I think that’s what makes every human interaction so beautiful. Every meeting you have with an individual is an opportunity to learn something new. Hence, we must stay modest and prepare to be amazed every time.
Also check out my previous post on How to Start a Conversation.
A lot of my content in this post is taken from Radio Host Celeste Headlee’s Ted Talk. She’s a delightful speaker who provided great and insightful tips on how to create better conversations.
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