The Science of Conversation

We are told to leave our troubles at home, listen more than we speak, and have a topic of conversation up our sleeve. People's profiles are a rich source of topics and it show interest if you know a little about the other person. We're also told to be positive, use the future tense [the language of leadership] and open-ended questions. If that isn't enough, there's more.

Think, Feel, Do

We all operate in different modes. A simplistic way to look at it is consider that we think rationally, we feel and we act. Conversations can miss out the interesting parts. It may be the individual's feelings for instance or their thoughts, when the person is talking about what they did. Ask about the missing parts.

Eliciting Strategies

This is what the business coaches refer to when they suggest we ask someone about how they would go about something. Obviously this is not something to be undertaken lightly or used as an ice-breaker, but when used with honesty it can lead to fascinating insights.

Active Listening

Another one from the business coaches. 'Active listening' involves telling the other person what you have just heard them say, putting it in your own words and then building on it in some way. It's especially useful where there is potential for misunderstanding. It shows great respect for the other person and their points, and avoids the inattention people can have when preparing to say their bit.