How to Create a More Meaningful Conversation

Whether you're networking for work, with friends, on a date, or whatever else - the ability to create meaningful conversations fast will serve you well.

In this video I talk about the "Genuine Interest Technique", which will help you turn small talk into real talk. And by using this simple technique, you'll be able to connect deep and fast with almost anyone.

(This video is from my LinkedIn Learning course Centered Communication: Get Better Results from Your Conversations, which adapted from my Secrets of Confidence and Communication course on Udemy.)

How to create meaningful conversations.

This next rapport building technique is called Genuine Interest, and in many cases it will also create a bit of tension.

Genuine Interest can create very deep rapport very fast. If you’ve ever had the experience of meeting someone new, and five minutes later it feels like you’ve been friends for years, odds are that this was a part of that process.

The technique itself can be summed up in a simple sentence: Why people do what they do is more important than what they do.

In most conversations between people who don’t know each other well, topics such as work, hobbies and interests tend to come up. And when they do, people tend to ask the same questions every time.

  • “What do you do?”
  • “How long have you done it?”
  • “Do you enjoy it?”

Most people have autopilot answers ready for these, and the conversation can quickly become stale and boring.

But this gives us a great opportunity.

Better questions for great conversations.

Instead of asking these standard questions that people have been asked hundreds of times before, ask them about their motivations, inspirations, and positive experiences. And you should do this whether you’re talking about work, hobbies, interests, or whatever.

For example, asking someone, “what made you choose that career?” Instead of “how long have you been doing it?” Will create a very different conversation. It’s a question most people haven’t been asked before, at least not very often. And it makes most people feel like you’re genuinely interested in learning about them, not just their resume.

Asking “what’s your favorite thing about your job?” Or “what’s one of the funniest or most interesting things that’s happened at your job?” Instead of, “do you enjoy your job?” Will bring up fun and interesting stories rather than a quick, one-word answer.

People who use the genuine interest technique tend to be described as good listeners, interesting, charismatic, caring, curious, and lots of other positive adjectives.

And it’s a very simple thing to get good at, because you can practice it with practically anyone you talk to.

All you have to do is remember to look for people’s “why”. Their motivations and inspirations for doing what they do - and the positive experiences they’ve had with it.

Combine this with asking about the things you genuinely enjoy talking about, and you'll start having amazing conversations fast.

When people don't give you an answer.

Just keep in mind that to some people, these questions will be so unexpected that all they can think to answer is, “I don’t know.”

Don’t let them off the hook that easy. Give them one more encouragement to see if they’ll put a little thought into it.

A good way to do that is to smile and ask something like, “no? You can’t think of anything?”

This also adds a little extra tension to the conversation since it’s a small qualifier, which is something we’ll discuss in another video shortly.

However, if they stick to that they don’t know or don’t have an answer, let the topic go and choose one of the other topics that you made a mental note of while you were active listening.

To watch the complete course on LinkedIn, click here.

Hi, I'm TJ Guttormsen.

Since 2009 I’ve coached clients ranging from Olympic gold medalists and billionaires, to people who simply want more out life.

I’ve done over 100 national media appearances, published books, and created online courses that have earned several “Highest Rated” titles from their 11 000+ members.

Today I coach clients from all over the world, and teach seminars for business and events from my home in Las Vegas.

Come join me in my Facebook group, follow my Instagram, or subscribe to my YouTube channel for fresh content on a regular basis.