Conversations change people’s lives

Practice improving your conversations.

Conversations make the world go around

A balanced work/life is essential, and it is important that employees know that and live that way. Employees these days expect less of a separation between work and personal life. However, they do expect to have flexibility in the hours and places they work.That doesn’t mean that work tasks should encroach upon your personal time. But it does mean that employees today expect more from the companies for whom they work and good conversations, or lack of them is at the heart of most people problems.

This doesn’t mean that work should encroach upon your personal time. This is the reason more conversations need to be started in all organisations. Conversations to improve both the organisation and the lifestyle of all those involved.

Think back to the most enjoyable conversations you’ve ever had. The chances are, those conversations moved smoothly from one speaker to the next, and naturally from one topic to another. There was no sense of “What do I say now?” or “Am I supposed to talk next?” You and the other people in the conversation felt free to express thoughts and feelings instead of worrying about how to make the conversation flow.

Why are you doing what you do?

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it and how it will impact on what they want and need. Therefore your first step is to find out what your ‘why ‘is and understand what it reveals. By discovering your ‘why’ you can make your own luck which will make your life easier.

When you know your ‘why’, you will discover the path to your dream which will become easier because of the conversations you have. Winners make a habit of managing their expectations based on their ‘why’. They usually do it in advance of taking action, by having a series of good conversations that help them to avoid random action.

Important areas of conversations to have in your organisation

  • Strengths needed to be developed for a sustainable future.
  • Innovations that will improve your future.
  • Talents required in order to be successful.
  • Opportunities for increasing profits and growths.
  • The learning environment needed.
  • Environmental issues needed to be dealt with.
  • The technology required for supporting improvements in effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Key areas for continuous improvement improve.
  • Conversations about possible disruptions.

The importance of conversation

You will have heard people say that you must match your actions to your rhetoric. Well, there are those people will sit around for years talking, going to talk fests and looking for ways to follow through and get some actions happening in order to start an enterprise.

To follow through on your ideas you start by looking at your conversations. Conversations matter, in your life, including the ones you have with yourself every day, in fact, many times a day. Each time you have a choice, to take action or not. You have been in this situation many times in the past where you had different conversations that led to different results.

I hear you saying, “There is no way I can start a business”. What would happen if the conversation changed to: “This is ridiculous, of course, I can start a business. I don’t care about what it takes; I’m just going to give it a go”. Within seconds you will be thinking about all the things that you will need to do to make it happen. You suddenly become supercharged as the ideas start to flow into your head and you take it from there.

Your dreams can come true for you in many ways. One of those ways is through the types of conversations you have with yourself and your creator. I suspect your creator believes in you, otherwise, you might not be here. That leaves you and the kind of conversations you have with yourself and other people. Do those conversations move you forward, or hold you back?

Understand your pattern of conversations

The power to act comes when you have a pattern of having positive conversations that get things done. A pattern of can-do conversations in your life can be sufficient to get a successful enterprise started. The power is not in one conversation, but in the pattern, or the sum total of your day-in-and-day-out conversations. That “I can do it” conversation only matters because it stands on the shoulders of a strong pattern of conversations. Every conversation matters.

Ask your spouse and your friends. They probably know as much about your pattern of conversations as you do. At first, you might not want to hear what they have to say about your pattern. But, if you can tolerate hearing what is said, you can begin to make choices about the conversations you allow into your life, and about the results likely associated with those conversations.

Your actions come from those conversations. It’s not what happens to you that matters so much. It’s how you react. Your reaction determines what your life will be like. Your reaction, in many cases, starts out with the conversation you have about each of your life’s events. If your conversation is “poor me,” you are likely to get one result. If your conversation is, “okay, what are my options”, you get another result.

Many would suggest you don’t have a choice about how you react to conversations. “It’s just the way I am.” If that is your answer, then you know what your future is likely to be. I didn’t say it was easy or fast. I just said it was a choice. What are you going to do?

Do you know what drives conversations in your organisation?

What are your conversations based on, or are they just idle chatter to pass the time? A good conversation should explore the possibilities that both parties can take away from the exchange of ideas and opinions.

Self-assessment and reflection on all aspects of the conversations you have will contribute most effectively to improvement. The following will assist you to develop a framework for having good conversations. Be honest about your current conversation practices and be open to new possibilities. Making changes ƒshould include your ability to ask the ‘hard’ questions and being able to sense who is being disadvantaged, so you always have positive conversations.

Only when you are carefully collecting data are you able to figure out the optimal conversations you should be having for your special situation. Modern marketing success is based on the ability to measure, monitor and track all you are doing. Having focused conversations will give you the ability to react fast and adjust accordingly.

  • When you are looking for a breakthrough.
  • To create an inclusive working environment.
  • Good conversations help to clarify your vision and future directions.
  • When you want to bring about change.
  • To establish congruent values across your organisation.
  • Gather knowledge from ‘big data’ to become an interesting person and organisation.
  • When trying to communicate a message.
  • Manage people better by having more positive conversations.
  • To improve health and well-being.
  • When attitudes need to be altered.

When in conversation with someone you have just met or when the usual few topics are exhausted an awkward silence may occur, or you might just become nervous but not knowing why. This is when you need to know how to re-start the conversation.

Signs of conversation killers

  • The conversation is boring.
  • People are not listening.
  • You don’t know what to say next.
  • People look uneasy and poised to leave the conversation.
  • There is a poor understanding of the subject.
  • Someone is dominating any discussion.
  • Asking too many questions.
  • Someone always stealing the limelight.
  • Some people seem to be excluded from the conversation.
  • Someone is hogging the spotlight.
  • Becoming nervous and tightening up.
  • Poor delivery.
  • Inappropriate body language.
  • Someone having to be right all the time.
  • Talking about a weird or negative topic.
  • Not reciprocating, people avoid answering questions.
  • People feel they are not contributing very much.

Conversations can be easily started

People who can start conversations are always welcome. But my favourite kinds of people are those who can change conversations to meaningful subjects and retain people’s interest.


Good conversations don’t always require words and can be held anywhere, irrespective of the time and place or the person you are with.

When you’re at a party, conference or just walking along the street and you see someone you would like to talk with, you have a choice. You can freeze up or engage them in conversation. It might be someone you have wanted to meet for a long time or a really good customer.

You may struggle for the right things to say and before you can come up with anything to start a conversation, the person has moved on or become involved in another conversation. How many opportunities have you lost because the chance was missed? 

If this has happened to you, it need never happen again. You can easily start a conversation with absolutely anyone, anytime. There’s only one secret: say something the person will be happy to hear. It might take a little practice, but learn to walk up to someone, and pick the most appropriate conversation-starter. At the very least, you’ll be able to get contact information you can use later on. Here are a few to choose from:

Simply introduce yourself

Simply pluck up the courage and introduce yourself as an opportunity presents itself. This won’t work every time, but if you practice just introducing yourself it becomes quite easy to meet people and ‘work a room’. You don’t have to come up with an appealing conversational tactic, just be you. Walk up to the person, stick out your hand and say, “Hi, I’m so-and-so. I just wanted to introduce myself”. Just the fact that you went out of your way to introduce yourself will make the person feel somewhat important and therefore start the conversation going.

Think of something positive to say

“I never expected as many people to be here today”. “Did you hear the keynote? I thought it was great”. “The dinner was really enjoyable, I liked the way they cooked the beans”. There is something positive to say in nearly every situation, so find it and say it. Avoid negative comments as they can be very offputting and risky.

Comment on a shared experience

Experiences from the same town or country. You may have worked for the same company at some time or another. Any common ground is a good basis for starting a conversation. An easy way to start a conversation is to ask for some specific information.

Put yourself forward to be of assistance

You won’t often find yourself in a situation where you can help someone you’re wanting to talk to, but it happens more than you might realise. Don’t miss your chance to be of use. “Would you like some help with your new program”? “Could I introduce you to someone I think could help to further your cause”? “Can I help you with lift to the airport”? The listener will be inclined to like you and trust you because you’ve helped them, as long as they perceive you as being sincere.

Ask for assistance

“I lost my notes, I think they became mixed you with yours”. “I would appreciate it if you could have a quick look at my latest innovation”. Requests for assistance are another way to make someone feel helpful and flattered at the same time. Just make sure whatever you ask for is something they can genuinely provide without much inconvenience.

Seek an opinion about a common activity or project

“Did you get a lot out of this workshop”? “I see you’re interested in that technology, would you recommend it?” Most people like knowing that others are interested in their opinions and will be happy to respond and get a conversation going.

Ask for information that you know a person has

“I would really appreciate a copy of the presentation you delivered today”. “Excuse me, could you tell me where the next session is being held”?  Even if you already know the answer, asking for information can be a great way to start someone talking with you, because everyone likes to feel helpful.

Mention a mutual acquaintance

“Did you work with Roger”? “We have worked on several projects together”. Naming someone you both know will tell the listener you are part of his or her extended social circle. Many people will begin thinking of you as someone they know or should know. Be careful, though, that their relationship with your shared acquaintance is on good terms — you don’t want to say you’re best friends with someone only to learn your friend and the listener are in the midst of a legal dispute.

Compliment a person

This works when you’re wondering what to say to a celebrity, a politician, or someone prominent in your industry. You’ll never insult someone by complementing them on the work they are doing. “I really like the work you are doing with small regional communities”.  Always be genuine and avoid critiquing their work unless you’re specifically asked to do so. Avoid complimenting someone on their personal appearance because it can be very disconcerting.

The old standby, a comment on the weather or sport

The one exception to the no-negatives rule is the weather. If you’re in the midst of a heat wave, or a torrential downpour, remarking on the unusual weather can often be a good way to start a conversation. Sport can also be a shared experience, that both you and the listener can have an initial conversation about. But be aware that just blurting out about the weather or sport can be a turn off if not appropriate in the situation.

Consider the negatives when having conversations

With the pressures on business people today, the ordinary conversations are becoming shorter and less inclusive. If there is less talk, people will tend to lose interest in each other and their work. With that in mind, a political or religious comment should be avoided. Unless you really know the other person’s situation and politics. Any kind of gossip is also to be avoided.

Conversations in today’s world can be exciting because there is so much to talk about. There is always something new or someone making you think in new and different ways. However, I miss how we used to talk about everything that was on my mind. Interchanges without having to put it through a filter in case it is not ‘politically correct’, or ‘I will upset some’ do-gooder’ or have my ideas mishandled.

I love having a conversation where you don’t have to worry about what you say, you can just be you. I am a great believer in having conversations that are based on George Elliot’s poem called ‘Friendship’:

“Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person,

having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,

but pour them all out just as they are, chaff and grain together,

and a faithful hand will take and sift them,

keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away”.

Avoiding bad conversations

  • Failure to engage in good introductions can be embarrassing and off-putting.
  • Forcing conversations just for the sake of talking.
  • Be quick to listen and slow to talk.
  • Not understanding the differences in face-to-face and online conversations.
  • Insincere people.
  • The mood of the people involved can lead to miss-communications.
  • A social differential can be a conversation inhibitor, both ways.
  • A technical differentiation slows understanding if parties are not patient with each other.
  • Small minded or negative people can kill conversations.
  • Beware of emotional blackmail, it can blind you to reality.
  • Lying and exaggeration are to be avoided as they will come back to bite you.
  • Reaching out to the same person too many times can be frustrating for the person involved.

Start some new conversations today

Starting a conversation to get to know someone or breaking an awkward silence can be very stressful. To start a conversation, master a set of guidelines to suit your personality style
    • Let go of your fears, like animals humans can sense another person’s fear.
    • Introduce yourself if necessary, be the first to do so don’t wait for others who may not know how.
    • Keep your body language open and receptive and be sure to maintain appropriate eye contact.
    • Keep the conversation going with small talk.
    • Synchronise your conversation with the topics under discussions. No ‘plops’.
    • Say the other person’s name now and then so you remember it. People will warm to you if you remember their name.
    • Give acknowledgement to others statements and ideas.
    • Stay engaged in the conversation by avoiding distractions.
    • Be open to others wanting to be included in the conversation.
    • Look for people standing by themselves at a function and help them to become involved with what is going on.
    • Most people like to talk about their businesses and their family, which might prompt a good starting question for you.
  • People are generally more honest when physically tired. This is why people confess things during late night encounters so be ready.

There’s no better feeling than a deep and meaningful conversation with good people. There are still good people out there in this world, but you have to try and meet them half way. Start by being the first to introduce yourself with a positive statement. Always have a business card, most people like to know who they are talking to, without some long-winded spiel from them.

Quotable quotes

“Create new conversations, that will lead to better relationships, better health and better businesses as well as nicer places in which to live”. Peter Sergeant

“A quote is not a conversation, but an invitation to change your perspective”. Shannon Alder

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