Management Listen to the room

Seven Conversation Hacks

  1. Say their name if you think they aren’t listening. In a meeting with five or more humans, it’s ok if someone checks out of part of the conversation. Not every topic is of equal interest to all humans. When you know the conversation is steering back to a human who isn’t listening, say their name.
  2. Repeat the hard part when you don’t understand. Or, repeat the last thing they said and add a question mark. Ask questions if you don’t understand.
  3. Pause if you need more time to think. Let the conversation breathe.
  4. Move your line of sight below theirs. Hunch over a bit. This changes the sense of who is in charge of the conversation. I learned this subtle move from a fascinating book about improv. We, as humans, react to the relative position of another’s gaze. Higher, they are driving. Lower, they are receiving.
  5. Look them in the eye if you think your point isn’t landing. Or if it’s important to them. Repeat the point. Once. A variant of saying their name, except in this scenario, you have their attention, but it’s unclear if they understand the point.
  6. Stop talking. Ask them what they think. Or slow your cadence. I get on a roll often, conversationally, and what feels like a delicious conversational tale to me is rambling. When the room starts to tell me this, I stop. I stop for five seconds. In five seconds, you can effectively reset the tempo of a conversation. Possibly my favorite conversational move. s
  7. Listen to the room when you are done to see and hear what they heard. Does the conversation continue immediately on the same or related topic? Excellent. Is there a painful, long silence where it’s clear you didn’t deliver your message? Keep trying.

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