10 Tips to Making Meaningful Conversations

A conversation is not a business meeting at work or with your family. It is a personal or informal talk that takes place in the cafeteria, while in a car on the way to a client presentation or walking on the street on your way to work.

It can make or break a relationship. It can make a career successful. It can make new friends. It can just brighten up another person’s life. It can change the world!

If you value time, aim at productivity and contribution, you would want to maximize your conversation to end up being a meaningful.

Here are 10 ways to make a conversation bring impact to you and others.

1.    Talk with purpose.

Before starting a conversation, be conscious of what you want to achieve.

  • Is it to get some information?
  • To simply kill time while travelling?
  • To get to know a person more?

Knowing your purpose beforehand allows you to direct your conversation on track and never get lost out of the way.

2.    Be genuine.

Make the conversation because you want to. If you do not feel like doing it but you feel obliged because of your responsibility, make the effort to do a short talk.

If this is to be done out of obligation, you need to motivate yourself into doing it for a certain purpose or incentive.

One way of becoming more genuine is asking yourself what it means for you and the other person.

Being genuine is first of all what makes a conversation, meaningful.

3.    Choose a good topic.

Start a topic that is very timely and appropriate. The starting point has to be depending on your relationship with the person you are talking to and the situation the person or both of you are going through.

For example, if you are going to talk to a person whom you know is busy and pressured at that very moment, you can make the person feel better by asking ‘how is it going?’

Starting the conversation with the right topic sets the tone that brings both parties at ease.

4.    Find common interests.

Come up with something that will make both of you interested.  This pushes the  genuineness of your interest while it allows the other person to be drawn more to speak up.

Discovering common likes and dislikes opens up a bond between two people.  It harnesses a human touch to one’s relationship even if it is at a professional level.

A topic that stirs the heart of both parties develops rapport.

5.    Try to continue with an on-going interesting topic.

In some occasions, you will find yourself speaking to a person who keeps bringing the conversation to a dead-end.  You ask the question, he gives you the answer and period. It can be very challenging.

A constant change of topic just because the previous one died immediately, makes both parties start to feel uncomfortable.

However, it is fine to move on to a different topic or jump into several if the discussion flow continues and does not leave a dead air at some point.

The most important thing is to keep the conversation going.

6. Empathize.

Put yourself in the shoes of the other person.  It further elevates the conversation to a deeper rapport and better understanding of each other.

Think how the other person feels at that moment.  Feeling how the other person feels helps you to be in his position.

Empathy is not just a matter of words but understanding the core of what the other person is saying.

7.    Listen and then validate.

One of the most difficult tasks to do in a conversation is really listening.

Do not prepare for what to say while the other person is talking.  Do not just keep quiet because you want to give the other person a time to talk.

The proof that you really listen is to validate your understanding by repeating in your own words (based on your understanding) what was said.

8.    Allow your listener to talk.

After you have spoken, give the other person a time to talk. There are some people who like to talk about themselves.  If you are one of them, try to be less selfish.

Ask the person ‘What about you?’ It is often lack of politeness not to ask back when someone asks how you are for example.

A conversation is not a monologue or an interview.

9.    Ensure statements are understood from both sides.

There are particular topics or statements that will be hard to understand due to the complexity of the story or simply because the environment is distracting. It could be very tempting to take the statement for granted and go on with the conversation.

If you are the one speaking about the complex issue, you need to make it easier for the listener to understand.  Provide a quick background, explain the situation or what happened and a bit of the impact.

Asking for clarification or further explanation is a way to show your interest in the topic being discussed.  It also shows that you are paying attention.

10.  Express real interest in a follow through of what was discussed.

When the discussion leads to a recommendation by the other party about a product or person, show an action expression by saying ‘I will keep it in mind’ or ‘Can you write it down for me?’

Leaving a clear output of the discussion such as a note, contact number or a promise, if needed, concludes a happy experience and a better connection you and the other person may look forward to.

Level Up Your Conversations

Where do you see yourself?  How can you improve your current level?

Managing a conversation show the kind of person you are.  You do not have to wait for the other person to lead the discussion.  You can do this.  No matter who you are, if you lead a talk, you make a difference!


About the Author

Rob Leonardo is the creator of ConfidenceCues. He wrote the Manifesto of Confident People Series for his blog as a guiding principle for everyone who wants to improve and keep their self-confidence alive.  The series culminates with a challenge to readers –  to launch their own personal projects of change through FREE online mastermind sessions.


24 Responses to 10 Tips to Making Meaningful Conversations

  1. Aaron Morton says:

    All good points and I think there is merit in having the conversational skills to flow without intent as well. One thing I learnt from improvisation classes and watching good conversationalists is their ability to flow between conversations without any type of ‘blocking’.
    This allows the other party to feel comfortable to not restrict their thinking in fear of not being accepted or being thought as as weird.


  2. Although this has been mentioned countless times, I have to vouch for Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. After learning the methods and concepts discussed in the book and internalizing them, I feel like new relationships that bloom are much more genuine and have a greater quality. Not only that, current relationships only improve as you become a more engaged listener. People pick up on this and it just works for everyone. Regardless, I enjoyed the article Rob and think that you made excellent points relating to the art of conversation. 

  3. Small talk kills me. I’ve never been able to stand it. Maybe that’s the introvert in me.

    But long deep conversations? I’m all over that.

    I think it all goes back to your second point — being genuine. If you are not genuinely interested in the subject (or the person) it becomes very difficult to force a smooth conversation.

    I suppose learning to feign interest could be a useful conversation skill, but I just have no stomach to fake things.


  4. Rob Leonardo says:

    Thanks for pointing that out, Aaron.  Indeed, when the flow is doing well, there is no point to cut it or change topic.  If your intention was to build rapport, then it is sufficient that the conversation is raised to a comfortable level between the two parties making the conversation.

  5. Rob Leonardo says:

    Hi Vincent! You can make a difference in making meaningful conversations- to help another person change or simply improve your connection with a person.

  6. Rob Leonardo says:

    Well said Trevor.  It takes effort to make a conversation when you are not interested or you do not like the person.  But what if you have to out of obligation? Then comes motivating yourself.  Great people don’t do what they just like, they do things because they want to make a difference in the life of others.

  7. Mariacha says:

    Mobile site fail here: can’t read the article due to the large “share this” window covering all text.

  8. Aaron Morton says:

    ultimately more people crave deep and meaningful conversation than small talk so becoming a master at that will take you far Trevor!


  9. Jorge Blanco says:

    Number 7 is indeed very true. While you’re listening to your friend talk, you can get caught up in what you have to say and forget to truly listen. It takes patience to let your friend finish first before you start thinking and sharing your opinion on the matter.

  10. I definitely know what you mean Trevor. It is very difficult to carry a long, insightful conversation without the small talk first though! Establishing mutual interests and all that really ties in with the small talk most of the time. That’s what helps me get through it. 

  11. Vipin kamboj says:

    All are good point , but I think Humor the single word that makes  conversations meaningful , interesting and effortless. I can see people attracts towards a humorous personality and a humorous personality having a good social value and respect.

    Thanks !

  12. Judybooth35 says:

    Thank you Rob for those helpful tips! They will certainly come in handy, I have difficulty talking to people especially those I just met. You know, I discovered an app called “Conversation Cheats” that has worked wonders for me, since I’m not content with just small talk, I want to have genuine connections with people, and my shyness would always leave me lost for words, but this app has provided interesting points, questions and answers to keep the conversation following so I’m no longer nervous since it takes the pressure off filling in the silences, and in turn, my true personality shines through. Anyway! Thanks again :)

  13. Rob Leonardo says:

    You are right Jorge!  Sometimes, you just give up thinking about what to say and just listen! Validating your understanding of what was said makes a connection with the person you are talking to and he will realize you really care.

  14. Thanks Aaron. I still wish I could be a master of small talk, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

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  17. Jorge Blanco says:

    Exactly. He will realize you really care. In the end, that’s what friends are. People who care about you.

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