How to be Fully Engaged in Conversations

3 tips to win at conversations


repost from 2012

If you have the ability to be fully engaged during a conversation then you will be able move from communicating to connecting with the person you’re talking with. The goal of every conversation should be to relate and connect with the person. This will allow you to lead better and to build and develop strong relationships.

However, being engaged while in a conversation can be challenging. This is because of all the distractions that can cause you to lose focus of the conversation. These distractions can be self-imposed while others come from your surroundings.

Recently while at work a couple of co-workers and myself where having a casual conversation. The communication was going great until one of them received a message on their phone. The person pulled the phone out of his pocket and started typing on it, being on the phone while still trying to be in the conversation. The conversation hit a wall and abruptly ended and we went our separate ways.

I have noticed this type of situation happens frequently. Distractions and not being intentional about being engaged while communicating can lead to failed conversations. To be fully engaged in conversation then remember and apply these 3 points:

1. Have proper body language- When communicating it’s essential to remember our non-verbal body language speaks louder than our verbal. Deborah Bull said, “Body language is a very powerful tool. We had body language before we had speech, and apparently, 80% of what you understand in a conversation is read through the body, not the words.” This requires having your facial expressions, posture, eye contact, and body language in line with the conversation. Stand up straight, have your hands comfortably to your side, and have your face and eyes toward the person you’re talking with.

2. Care and value the person- When you talk with someone you should make it a point to care and value them and the conversation. This takes actively seeing the best in others no matter their current or past situation or background.  It would be wise to remember Les Giblin’s words, “You can’t make the other fellow feel important in your presence if you secretly feel that he is a nobody.” Show people you care by being engaged in the conversation and making them feel like a million bucks.

3. Intentional concentration- It’s important to avoid being distracted with something outside of the conversation. This can include your surroundings, inner dialog, or thinking about what you’re going to say after the person is finished talking. Being engaged in conversation requires being intentional about staying focused on the person and conversation. Practice concentrating and having an intense focus during your conversations.

Questions: Do you have a story about how a distraction caused you or someone else to lose focus of the conversation? And how do you stay engaged during a conversation?

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2 thoughts on “How to be Fully Engaged in Conversations

  1. Happens all the time, Dan, and it’s very frustrating. I’m trying to set the example of focusing on the people in front of me, but I feel like the minority in this most of the time. I’m going to work on my kids with this and help them understand why it’s important to focus on who you’re with face to face. I also don’t take my phone to church on Sunday mornings, so I’m not even tempted by it and can focus on fellowship, learning and worship. Small things like these along with writing and talking about it when I can will hopefully have an impact. We’re losing our ability to connect, but I’m not going down without a fight.

    • Hi Kari,

      Great job about teaching your kids to focus! Good tip about not taking your phone to church (or certain places), it can allow us to connect with the people around us. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.