My wife Sarah is a great conversationalist. She connects well with others; people love talking to her and they often describe her by saying, “it feels like I’ve known her my whole life.”
Those are goals we should all strive for – especially as leaders.
Over the years, I have watched her in conversation with others and I’ve deciphered that great conversations require 3 E’s:
– Engagement, Energy & Empathy
A great conversation first requires engagement. How often are we distracted in a conversation? With texts, email or wandering though processes. When we are engaged both physically (through body language & eye contact) & mentally (through concentration & focus) we make the other person feel important.
The second part of a great conversation is energy. Think about how you show up for a potential client or a friend you haven’t seen in years. There is an energy you bring to those conversations. The energy comes across in vocal inflection, laughter, the light in your eyes and the questions you ask. If we want to have great conversations in any situation, we need to bring the energy because we typically get back the energy we put out.
The third ingredient is empathy. Great conversationalists focus on being interested, not interesting. They ask questions & then they dive deeper with concern & understanding. Empathy shows your humanity & your love. I often remind leaders that you can love people without leading them but you cannot lead people without loving them.