4 Steps To More Meaningful Conversations 7

George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” It does not take a wise person to explain that there is something wrong in the way people communicate and connect with one another. Communication is an art that has to be perfected in order for it to be used to your advantage. Just take a look at these few pointers and you are well on your way to improved communication.

Step 1: Take Interest

Having a conversation is very much like trying to make a sale. Now please remember I am not talking about personality here. I am simply looking at the process that is taken from the moment you pick up the product that you are trying to sell, up until the buyer has accepted terms and conditions and has purchased the product. When we communicate, we need to remember to be calm, believe in yourself and what you are saying. Facial expression is very important! Think of what it is you want to say before you say it. This may help reduce nervous and self confidence trouble. Relax and just be yourself. Do not be pretentious and do not over-communicate and offer too much information.

The first step of starting up the conversation with others, means you need to take a genuine interest in the other person and in what he or she is telling you about. Imagine you find yourself at a party. You are standing alone by the drinks table and you see someone walking to the table to pour him/herself a drink. Do not be scared to strike up a conversation. Say hello and introduce yourself. Relax and let the conversation flow naturally. Once the introductions are out of the way and depending on how well the initial part of the conversation went, you may now proceed to step 2. 

Step 2: Share

This stage allows you to talk about what you do for a living. Always be direct and confident about what you do because any uncertainty, shifty behaviour or shuffling will result in the conversation coming to an abrupt and immediate halt. If this happens, do not try to push and prod to make the conversation continue. No matter how hard you try, the other person will now unfortunately have someone better to speak with. Just let nature take its course and you never know, there may be an opportunity in the future to have a brand new and improved conversation with the same person. Allow the person to forget the previous conversation. Get up dust yourself off and have the confidence to try again and this time you will succeed.

Step 3: Create Interest

Step three allows you to now get creative and build a story for the listener. Each one of us is interesting in different ways. Find your common ground by asking questions. Do not ask too many questions and do not offer information that is not relevant to the current conversation. As an example, if the common ground has been established as loving sport, do not all of a sudden begin speaking about theatrical shows and musicals. Rather show your genuine interest in what the person is saying and try to learn from the person. Over-communication can cause the person to run for the hills and to possibly never want to speak with you again. 

Just like any well rounded story, your sales pitch or conversation needs to be well-rounded and well-developed. It must have a beginning, middle and ending. Always use a positive spin. Do not be negative when speaking as the person will feel drained and disinterested, causing the conversation to taper off. 

Step 4: Closing

Now that you have managed to get through the first three stages of a conversation, the rest becomes easy. You have been able to keep the person speaking till now and this is where you decide if you would like to meet the person again or if you would like to keep it to just this one conversation. Assuming you choose to see the person again, it may be a good idea to exchange contact details. Let the person know when you will be contacting him or her. Say goodbye for the evening and thank the person for taking the time to speak with you. Manners, politeness and consideration are important aspects to remember when communicating with others. If you are polite, it is more likely that the person will want to continue communicating with you and get to know you better.

These four points are basic stepping stones to beginning and maintaining any conversation. Believe in yourself, do not over-communicate and remember that there is always a necessity for politeness and manners. Follow these steps and you will be well on your way to having more effective and meaningful conversations and business relationships.

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7 thoughts on “4 Steps To More Meaningful Conversations

  • Michelle Shippel Post author

    Thank you so much Des. You are spot on! listening underpins all four of these communication principles. Communication is not only the ability to speak, but also the ability to hear and respond appropriately. 

  • Des Squire

    How wise Bernard Shaw was. I firmly believe the single biggest problem we have in South Africa is that of communication – In particular listening.

    While I agree with the four points above I feel the fifth (listening) should be added. Listening is an integral part of communication. When God created us He gave us two ears and one mouth and I firmly believe in His wisdom he intended us to use them proportionately. Great article.   

  • Michelle Shippel Post author

    Thank you Michael and Gabu for your wonderful comments. I am very glad to hear how much you have enjoyed my article. Do you possibly have examples of where you have found communication, either in yourselves or colleagues, to be ineffectual? 

  • Michelle Shippel Post author

    Thank you Ian. I could not agree with you more. I have found that often people would answer a question without taking a minute to think about the response. This leads to all sorts of challenges, especially in the workplace. I have said time and again to many of my clients, “receive a question, think about the response, take a breath and then give the answer that is suitable to both of you.” The key is to take a step back and think about the possible repercussions of your answer. Without the thought processes taking place, the answers often lead to an attack or a negative response from the other party.  

  • Ian Webster

    Thanks Michelle. I came across a sign on a university administration office wall:

    ‘I am responsible for what I say.
    I am not responsible for what you understand.’

    Exactly the arrogant thinking that GBS had in mind, methinks.