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The art of good conversation (and still getting stuff done!)


I had a great conversation with the very affable Steve Bridger (@stevebridger) earlier this week about blogging and engaging with people online.  And it made me think about why this conversation seemed ‘great’ in comparison to others that you either try to rush to get finished or dread having to hold at all.

For a start we chatted about personal stuff without having to try to be personable.  We talked about work and shared a few topical stories which segued nicely into the meat of the conversation around blogging and engagement.  And here we talked about what we needed to achieve, some ideas on how to best move forwards and some short-term follow-up actions.

It certainly seemed effortless (to me at least) but experience tells me that having a productive and pleasant conversation doesn’t generally happen by accident so we must have done something specific for me to feel that it was time well spent.  So what will I be doing or at least thinking about sub-consciously to ensure all my conversations have this beneficial mix of fun, productivity and personality?

  • I’m going to listen more to what’s being said and try to understand why before opening my mouth
  • I’m going to talk about people and the world and shared circumstances or interests.  It’s not always appropriate to natter or gossip endlessly but I’ve reached a point in life where I consider it a failing if I can’t find 10 minutes to stop being a Director and be genuinely friendly with people
  • If I need to achieve something I’m going to prepare ‘objectives’ in advance even it’s only one thing committed to memory so that I can be clear and not waste the time of the other party
  • I will never be a power networker; sizing up someone’s use to me in the first 90 seconds and then turning my back on them if they can’t advance my plans for world domination
  • I will always try to be me.  As a younger, ambitious corporate animal I would apply whatever persona I thought the other party wanted to see and hear.  I probably did the same when trying to impress new people (why do we do that?) and certainly when trying to amaze a young lady!
  • I’m not going to pretend to agree when I don’t or fawn to curry favour but I will be civil, professional and polite wherever I can
  • Lastly, I will try to get agreement to any actions if relevant and then get on and do them.

What do you do to ensure your conversations are enriching both personally and professionally?  And whilst I welcome comments and thoughts from everyone,  please don’t suggest that because ‘time is money’ we should not waste time with pleasantries… to many of us life is more than an opportunity to make money!

Even if you don’t comment, have a think about the conversations you really enjoy; if you could replicate some of that magic, wouldn’t life be just that bit better for everyone.

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