By Georgina El Morshdy
Whether you’re catching up over a coffee, brainstorming ideas with your team, or sharing thoughts around the kitchen table…
Amazing things can happen when you really talk.
It’s powerful to create an intentional space for more conversations that matter. You’ll sharpen your curiosity, elevate your creativity, and deepen your connections.
Check out these five tips for conversation mastery.
1. Practice active listening.
Most people listen to speak - they don’t listen to listen.
There’s a HUGE difference between the two - and it’s a difference that transforms the quality of the conversations you can have.
When you listen to speak, you’re simply waiting for the gap to step in with your thoughts and opinion.
When you listen to understand, you step into the realm of empathy. You begin to see the world through someone else’s eyes. As a result, you deepen your own knowing of what it means to walk in different shoes.
It feels different to be held in a conversational space with someone skilled at active listening. This deeper space creates safety for MORE to be expressed. It activates the deeper sharing of vulnerability, authenticity, and realness.
2. Get comfortable with pauses.
It’s a skill to feel OK with silence. Be observant of the need to fill the space to salve your own discomfort. Silence is golden time because it creates space for introspection and contemplation. Inside the stillness of silence, deeper insights and ideas can bubble up.
Speak too soon, and you’ll shut down someone else’s deeper probing.
Fill the silence too soon, and you’ll miss out on the gold that’s bubbling up.
Instead, take a breath.
Allow yourself to be OK with saying nothing.
And allow the pause to deliver its magic.
You’ll be glad you did!
3. Ask open questions.
The best conversations are those that meander into the unknown and take you down tangents you didn’t expect. These types of conversations leave you invigorated, inspired, and genuinely touched.
The only way to enter the realm of the unknown and the unexpected is to use OPEN QUESTIONS - i.e., the type of questions that invite more than a YES or NO response.
Where closed questions shut down the conversation, open questions open the door to the realm of possibilities.
It’s easy to ask open questions when remembering the five bums on a bench analogy!
Ask WHO WHAT, WHY, WHEN, WHERE, or HOW.
Then sit back and see where the answer leads.
4. Drop the agenda.
Humans like predictability because certainty feels safe. When you think you know how things are likely to unfold, you don’t have to worry about being caught out unexpectedly.
However, there’s a flip side.
When you listen from a place of assumptions and expectations, you unintentionally close down conversations.
So drop the agenda and instead enter conversations with an open mind. Expect to be surprised. Set an intention that you’ll discover something you didn’t know before.
When you leave the agenda at the door, you make space for creativity and curiosity.
When you bring an open mind and a questioning soul, you activate the desire to ask clarifying questions and to probe deeper into stories, ideas, and thoughts that captured your attention.
And the result…
Better conversations and much deeper connection.
5. Use question prompts.
If you want to spark conversations that take you to new places and help you get to know people on a deeper level, question prompts are your best friends.
Firstly, questions hijack the brain and guide your thinking down a specific tangent. In this way, questions focus the conversation somewhere specific. With a good question, you can forget splashing around in the superficial shallows! Instead, you’ll dive deep into the meatier stuff.
Secondly, a good question can guide you to think about stories, experiences, and beliefs you’ve not considered before. It’s so easy to get stuck in our comfort zone. After all, we don’t know what we don’t know! This area of reality is a massive blindspot! A good question rips off the blindfold, creating space for you to discover more about YOU and the people you’re speaking with.
Thirdly, question prompts make it easier to ask the more challenging questions! After all, if you’re reading out a question from a card, you don’t have to take responsibility for asking it -- because the card told you to! In this way, question prompts empower you to open closed doors and have the meaningful conversations that matter - with anyone.
Are you ready to have more meaningful conversations? If so, check out this collection of Conversation Decks. Whether you want to connect with a stranger, encourage your child to open up, or feel more intimate with your partner, there’s something for you.