Welcome to Week 4 of 7 Things EVERY Person Should Master: Conversation! And while conversation stands on its own, there is a natural progression from Reading (Week 1) to Inquiry (Week 2) to Flexible Thinking and Use of Evidence (Week 3) to Conversation.

Conversation is often something that is taken for granted because we do so much of it. I have seen few places and times where people deliberately reflect on or practice ways to have real conversations with each other and their colleagues.

This week’s focus is not on the QUANTITY of conversation but the QUALITYWhen you are participating in a conversation, how often do you think about who is contributing and how much? Are you dominating the conversation? Are you not interested and “spaced out” while the other person is talking? Or worse, are you checking your phone (messages, texts, Facebook, LinkedIn) while the other person is talking and trying to engage you?

While it may be hard to do, try this tomorrow. Take inventory of the following questions and assess your conversations:

  • Are people taking turns?
  • How many topics are discussed during the conversation?
  • How deep do you go into the topics discussed?
  • Are you present?
  • How often are you asking and answering questions, leading your conversation partner(s) to expand and enrich their answers?
  • Are you using the conversations to learn the other people are thinking about and what they know?

None of this is about hitting all of these points during every conversation. However, conversations can be enriching or draining. What efforts do you take to be engaging and present and interested? How do you rate your conversations?