Communication 101

How To Have a Meaningful Conversation Over Video

There’s nothing wrong with small talk. In specific situations, it’s polite and appropriate when neither party wants to delve deep into a philosophical sandstorm! 

However, every conversation at work and in your personal life also provides an opportunity to foster genuine connections. A good talk can help you learn more about other people (and the world), cultivate new relationships, or nurture existing ones. When you and the people around you engage in meaningful conversations, it helps you learn from each other’s experiences and perspectives. 

In other words, meaningful conversations are essential in the workplace. They can help you build strong relationships with your coworkers, employees, and clients. And they can help you whether you’re trying to climb the corporate ladder or lead your organization to new heights.  

However, you don’t need to be directly in front of another person to build a human connection. During the pandemic, we learned that it’s possible to relate to our loved ones, friends, and co-workers on a virtual level

Let’s talk more about meaningful conversation and how you can improve your communication.

What Is Meaningful Communication? 5 Key Elements 

Though it's sometimes the only option, small talk can be painful. Most of us have experienced universally awkward situations, such as being inon an elevator with a stranger. The duration of the journey is long enough to feel like you need to say something but too brief to say anything worthwhile. Hence, small talk ensues, and you’re left cringing your way off the lift!

On the other hand, meaningful conversations are rewarding for all parties involved. We all want our point of view to be heard and, if not agreed with, at least validated. Deep down, we long to learn from others and see things from a different perspective. A two-way conversation where you and the other person alternate roles as speaker and listener is the most productive kind of interaction possible. 

Meaningful conversations allow you to learn something important about yourself, the other individual, and the world. And they help us feel more connected with our colleagues, friends, and family members.

1. Getting Past Small Talk

It's essential to recognize that small talk isn't always negative. After all, you probably don't want to start a deep conversation with someone you've never met. Small talk is a universal strategy for setting the scene and establishing rapport, and it's often a necessary first step. In short, it can establish the foundation for a richer conversation. 

With that said, you must move past small talk to enter into meaningful conversation. One of the most effective ways is to think more about the other person than yourself. Everyone enjoys chatting about things they’re interested in, but taking a conversation deeper requires you to step out of your head. We must consider the worldview and experiences of others.

Remember that every conversation is a chance to learn something. Showing the other person that you’re curious about their opinion, ideas, or story will keep you engaged in the conversation and demonstrate that you care. You’ll learn faster and retain more information from the conversation by engaging. 

Naturally, this means asking questions. But be mindful not to ask questions that project your bias and expectations onto the other person. Instead, ask open-ended questions that allow the other person to give more complex and illuminating answers.

This can help you get to know them on a deeper level and also spark new topics and ideas during your conversation. You can always augment deep questions with sparse, simple questions about the other’s emotions during the time.

2. Using Active Listening

It’s vital to know how to pay attention: It’s not necessarily as simple as you think.

It might be tempting to spend much of your time thinking about how you will respond in a conversation. But try to listen intently and comprehend the other person's message, including their words, the feelings they express, and what their body language is saying.

 If you need clarification on something they said, or if you want to respond directly to a point they made, repeat what you understood them to say to confirm that you understood them. 

Also, maintain eye contact with the person you’re speaking with and keep open body language. Directing your body toward the person but maintaining a relaxed position can demonstrate that you're engaged without seeming unnatural. Don't hesitate to ask follow-up questions or offer insightful comments at appropriate times. All these strategies can show that you care about what the other person thinks and keep both of you engaged for a deeper conversation.

Furthermore, understand that active listening sometimes means being silent. Even if it makes the situation slightly uncomfortable, it can give the person a chance to collect their thoughts and gain the confidence to share. 

3. Why Effective Communication Requires Respect  

For a two-way conversation to be effective, both parties must demonstrate respect. If the other person feels like you don't respect their point of view (or them as a person), they're not going to open up and share honest opinions. And they're not going to make meaningful strides toward a productive conversation.

Even if you vehemently disagree with a viewpoint or feel like you cannot relate to an experience the other person is describing, show them genuine interest. Remember that these are the conversations through which you can learn the most. We all want to be respected, and we are more willing to be vulnerable in conversation when we know the other person respects us.

4. Being Present in a Conversation

Engagement is critical for a meaningful conversation. When either party seems distracted, preoccupied, or like they would rather be anywhere else in the world, it's simply impossible to connect on a deep level. 

Remember to actively listen to the other person and try to absorb everything they’re saying. Comment on a point they made, ask questions to pry deeper, nod your head, and find other ways to show the other person you are present and focused on the conversation at hand.

5. A Meaningful Conversation Impacts Your Life  

One meaningful conversation can change your life. Not only do you walk away from a good conversation feeling heard, understood, and inspired, but you also get to see the world through another person's eyes.

You and your conversation partner can process and learn from your individual experiences, validate each other, and encourage others to think a bit differently or take action in specific areas of your lives. 

5 Steps To Have a Meaningful Video Call

OK, so you're on board with having meaningful conversations. Now, let's review five simple ways to make your video calls more meaningful.

1. Use Body Language To Convey Interest     

If you want to have a meaningful video call, you must show the other person that you’re interested in what they are saying and thinking. And your body language plays a critical role. 

Actively listen to the other person. Point your body toward them and nod your head to show that you’re following along with their message. And when you’re speaking, maintain eye contact and talk with your hands (with your palms up). Body language like this demonstrates that you care about their response and are open to their point of view.

2. Avoid Rambling 

The easiest way to distract your listener or make them uninterested in what you're saying is to ramble on and on until the point you're trying to make is unclear. It's natural to ramble when you’re nervous. If you become anxious, take a moment to breathe and collect your thoughts. The other person will likely understand and give you time to reframe your idea or argument.

3. Listen While Others Talk

Listening is ultimately the most crucial part of having a meaningful conversation. It enables you to see things from the other person's perspective, inspiring you to ask the right questions to move the discussion to a deeper level. Instead of thinking about what you will say while the other person is speaking, listen intently until they’re finished.

4. Take Notes During Video Calls

It can be challenging to retain all the information you learn in a conversation, especially when you’re discussing a foreign topic, or you don’t know the other person very well.

One way to ensure you don’t miss any important points is to jot down notes. This will also show the other person you’re engaged in the conversation and encourage them to keep opening up.

5. Let Poised Improve Your Video Calls

Poised is a first-of-its-kind communication tool that will help you improve your performance in video calls and meetings. During a call, the AI-powered coach will offer real-time feedback on your usage of filler words, how you can change your body language to appear more confident, and even how you can improve your camera position. 

You can even start a personalized plan with Poised, and no one else will know you’re using it! What’s more, you can review trends to see if and how you've improved over time. 

The Bottom Line

Don’t be afraid to have meaningful conversations. They provide opportunities to learn more about the world and see things from other people’s perspectives. And the best part is that engaging in meaningful conversations doesn’t have to be difficult. 

By following the simple hacks above and thinking more about the other person than yourself, you can quickly get to know them and gain valuable knowledge along the way. Resolve today that you’ll aim for better conversations, and your career and personal life will benefit!

Sources:

Getting Beyond Small Talk: Study Finds People Enjoy Deep Conversations With Strangers | APA

10 Questions For Meaningful Development Dialogues | Forbes

How Do Your Conversations Affect Your Well-Being? | Medical News Today 

Say it like you mean it.

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