Do you ever think about how invigorating a good conversation can be? We all take it for granted because we move from one conversation to another throughout the day and throughout our lives. I appreciate a good conversation more than ever. As a solo consultant who runs his own firm, I do not have the luxury of having an office full of colleagues with whom to discuss current events, sports or the latest business news.
I search for conversations…..with clients, with friends, with colleagues. But it makes me appreciate a good conversation even more. So what makes up a good conversation? Simply put, you feel challenged, invigorated, engaged, energetic and passionate all at the same time. But what is it about a conversation that makes it good? I have come up with three things:
- Mutual respect – the people involved in the conversation must have respect for each other and the process of the good conversation. This eliminates petty name-calling or being angered by a differing viewpoint. Respect leads to a discussion, not an argument.
- Interesting topic – the topic must be of mutual interest to all parties. This could be ways to improve a client's business or the latest upset in the NCAA basketball tournament. In all cases, it must be something of interest to the parties involved.
- All parties should learn something new – I walk away from all good conversations learning something that I did not know before or at least having a new perspective on a topic, so they are growth experiences as well.
There is an art to good conversation and they can take place with old friends or total strangers. They can happen in person or over the phone. In all cases, you know when you have just had a good conversation because you feel engaged and alive. It is a great feeling and one that we should be trying to find more often. You know what they say: "a good conversation a day keeps the doctor away."