I recently put that basic question to several friends and professional colleagues: What in their experience characterizes a good conversation (that simple question generated some incredibly meaningful conversations all by itself).
When you have a good conversation you know it. There is something almost magical about one idea building on another, or one link following another. The succession of ideas just flows.
I attended a workshop several years ago that was focused on improving conversations between managers and employees. The primary emphasis was on authenticity – where both parties were saying what they really mean, as opposed to just saying what they were supposed to say.
There are all sorts of personal skills involved too – empathy, interest in the other person, nonverbal behaviors, being engaged, being clear.
And then there is nature of the conversation itself. What is its purpose? What do you want to happen afterwards?”
A well-developed conversation is something that actually has to be thought about, and structured. It’s not just something that happens. It needs to be thought about in advance.