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Improve Conversations One Step At A Time
  • By Emily Davenport
  • /
  • Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017
  • /
  • 03:16 PM UTC


If you feel that your colleagues are too busy to have a productive conversation, you are not alone. Many people are experiencing this phenomenon and it is especially frustrating at work. Here are a few tips to help you improve your communication strategy:

Step #1: Focus

Multitasking may be fine in certain situations, but not when you are having a conversation. If you are trying to write an email, answer the phone and have a face to face conversation all at the same time, something is going to be lost. Whether you are having a conversation in person or on the phone, give the other person some focused time. You will make them feel important and you may learn something that will make the difference in the outcome of the conversation.

Step #2: Be an Active Listener

Contrary to popular belief, listening is not a passive activity. Active, effective listening takes practice. The message you send to the speaker is critical to creating a productive conversation. It includes body language, eye contact, demonstrating interest and using good summarizing techniques (“so what I hear you saying is….”).

Step #3: Ask Good Questions

In order to have a meaningful conversation, both parties need to be engaged. If you ask a few relevant questions it will show you are interested and help to clarify what is being said. The answers to the questions will also help to bridge the gap between being barely involved and being totally engaged.

Step #4: Take Notes

It is a compliment to the speaker when you take notes during or immediately after an important conversation. Since we have many conversations during the day, it is hard to remember everything unless you document it somewhere. Record takeaways from the conversation to save time in the future and to help you remember important information.

Step #5: Consider the Communication Style of Your Listeners

Everyone has a preferred style of communicating. Think about how the listener will receive your words and try to modify your conversation to maximize the impact. Does the listener prefer to get all the details, or do they prefer a more strategic approach? Is the listener generally empathetic to the needs of others, or more egocentric? If you consider the perspective of the listener, you will have more effective conversations and get more satisfactory results.

Do you want to improve the communication skills of your team? It is simple to bring a Communication Style Workshop to your organization and you will be amazed at the difference a few hours can make. Contact Mindy directly at 718-217-1074 to find out how to customize a program for your organization.

Mindy Stern SPHR, SHRM-SCP, ACC is an author, trusted HR Advisor and career coach. She frequently speaks at leadership conferences and workshops. If you would like your questions answered in this column, just email or visit the website at