Want Better Conversations? Stop Talking About Yourself

October 2, 2019


A colleague once described the process of conversation this way:


“You talk about you, then I talk about me”.


Is that accurate? Not exactly…No wonder that 9 out of 10 conversations miss the mark! 




Want to make your conversations better? Take this two-part conversational challenge: 


Part One:

For 24 hours, observe conversational interactions, whether in person or in print (such social media).


Notice how often the “listening” party redirects the conversation back to him or herself. 


Here are two examples:


“I’m thinking about going back to school, but I wonder if I can handle the pressure.”

“Oh, It’s a piece of cake! I had no problem when I went to grad school, and I was juggling a family and a job. Just stay organized.”


“Paris looks like such a beautiful place.”

“We went there just a few years ago. It was really nice, but I didn’t like the cheeses as much as I thought I would.”



Part Two:

For the next 24 hours, make your own conversations “other focused”.


Here’s how:


Great conversations happen when each individual – especially the initial listener – remains intensely curious about the other person, wanting to explore, discover and learn. 


Use that curiosity to ask questions that help you connect more deeply to the other individual. This builds trust, creating opportunity for even deeper conversation.


Those who earn the label of “great listener” aren’t concerned with formulating a reply while the other person is still speaking.  If the brain is processing a response, it isn’t fully assimilating words being spoken.


Should you share information about yourself? Of course, but to avoid unwittingly redirecting the conversation, share only when invited to do so by the other individual.


Once you’ve completed the challenge, commit to use your new learning to make every conversation other-focused.


Let’s reframe our two examples from a self-focus to an other-focus:


“I’m thinking about going back to school, but I wonder if I can handle the pressure.”

“What, specifically are your concerns?”


“Paris looks like such a beautiful place.”

“It’s interesting that you’re talking about Paris. What’s intriguing you most about it?”


With a little focus, care and attention, we can create better conversations. Through the trust that a great conversation generates, relationships deepen and the world becomes a better place. 


As the late Judith Glaser, author of Conversational Intelligence said, "The quality of our culture depends upon the quality of our relationships, which depends upon the quality of our conversations. Everything happens through conversation!”



Conversational Intelligence strategies and tools can help you create great conversations. Explore these in a complimentary coaching session: 



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