Traits of a Great Conversation

10 Traits of a Great Conversation

Sometimes starting and maintaining a conversation seems to be the most complicated thing, or because we don’t know how to act, what to say or why people don’t seem to want to be around us, yet these days end here.

In this article, we will discuss the essence of a conversation, what we should avoid, and what kinds of attitudes would be great for having a great conversation.

What is a Good Conversation?

Having a good conversation means we can talk about various issues so that the other person understands quickly, and above all, a good conversation is fun. A fun conversation becomes excellent because it allows the members to be themselves.

A great conversation is not just the process of exchanging words; they represent the base of a significant friendship or partnership. With that, you may be wondering that we can only have great conversations with people we know and have a connection, but here it comes, great conversations can happen with people we just got acquainted with.

According to Scott Young in Medium, the Ingredients of a Great Conversation are:

A great conversation is a two-way street, not a competition;

A great conversation is a safe space. Fear of judgment will stop us from opening up in front of someone;

A great conversation fosters relatability. Relating to something that another person has expressed indicates active listening;

A great conversation is an opportunity to learn, and it should feel enriching and enlightening.

After learning all about the traits of a great conversation in this article I highly recommend that you check our other article with about 300 examples of interesting questions to ask in any type of conversation. There are tons of examples and you can download an excel file with all of them ask well. Click here and dive in.

10 Traits of a Great Conversation

1. Don’t Multitask – Be present in the dialogue body and soul

According to journalist Celeste Headlee, who talked at TED Talks about conversation:

Being truly present in a conversation is the first step towards making it positive.”

Celeste headlee

For this, we need to make sure we don’t use our phone while talking, don’t stare at our tablet, cellphone or look at anything around us. Focusing our attention 100% on our caller is what we want to do to be present in our conversations.

I highly encourage you to take some time to watch Celeste’s TED talk on Conversations. Click below!

2. Don’t lecture and be open to learning.

Some people enter into a conversation already thinking of “converting” the other person so they too think in their way. This attitude creates an even more significant barrier between those involved and is the opposite we should do if we want to have a great conversation. 

Now, if we enter a debate willing to learn from each other, it already starts very well.

We need to put aside our personal opinion and try to understand what the other person is saying effectively would be the best thing we choose to do.

3. Ask open questions – allow the other to speak for themselves

Do you know what a biased question is? It’s that kind of question that conditions a person to give a certain answer. Avoid this path in your conversations! Leave the other person speaking for themselves without creating a chance before she even says anything.

A good tip is to use journalist’s tactics and ask questions that start with:

  • What, when, where, why, or how. 

For example: instead of asking, “You were nervous about this situation,” ask, “How did you feel right now?”

4. Let the conversation flow – don’t interrupt each other

While we are talking to someone, many thoughts and questions will come to our mind, but we should not interrupt each other to express ourselves, wait till he’s finished talking.

5. Learn to listen actively – this is the most vital basis for a good conversation.

If we develop this skill, we will already be ready to have amazing conversations with anyone; listening is the most fundamental part of good dialogue. Active listening is one in which our attention is needed to be devoted to what the person is saying, not just looking for a break to put our own opinion.

For some people, listening can be intimidating because we can:

  • We feel like we are not in control, and we can listen to something we don’t want. 
  • But if we are not ready to listen, we are not prepared to talk because that’s what bases our dialogue – speaks and listens.
Why Actively Listening or Not can Influence a Great Conversation
Advantages of Actively ListeningDisadvantages of Not Listening
It allows us to understand better the relationship between the subject in question and the interlocutor.We get lost about what is being discussed.
It will make us understand better people.We can annoy the other person and look bad.
Learn more – on others and oneself.Nobody will call out for our help because our attention would be put in doubt.

And we shouldn’t worry about looking like we are paying attention; if we are watching closely, that will be clear. Listening to the other’s point of view is as important as exposing ours. 

It is a way of valuing others’ opinions and showing respect for others; when we are not fully present, we are less likely to hear, understand, and respond skillfully.

6. Create a Connection by avoiding Superficial Questions

Rob Riker from the site The Social Winner is a conversation expert. One of his techniques preferred is “the rock that sinks,” a metaphor for skipping the shallow part of a conversation and engaging our interlocutor through emotion.

For this, it is necessary to follow three steps:

  1. Have a fact about the other person

What she likes, what she does or has done, something she said or mentioned. Keep the hook personal, but not too personal.

2. Ask about an emotion related to the fact

For example: “Do you like this subject?” or “What are the biggest challenges of those who deal with that subject normally?”

3. Understand why that emotion arose

“Why is he so interesting to you?” or “Oh, I figured this subject would work another way. What made you learn so much about him?” If you are attentive to the answers, you will learn a lot about someone and quickly. So, new subjects may arise more naturally – and we will genuinely have fun.

7. Storytell to make Conversations more Engaging

We cannot forget our own experiences and show our conversation companion that we can relate what we have heard to some particular story. From today turn into a collector of good stories. Whenever we hear an exciting story, we will:

  • Please write down the main passages so we can remember later and exercise our memory.
  • First chance we get,  we will tell the story;
  •  After telling it three or four times, we will have dominion over it, and history will become ours;
  •  Each time we tell the story, we can eliminate the irrelevant information to learn to take breaks more appropriately. We will find endings that can make the narrative more attractive.
  •  In a short time will have a considerable stock of good stories to use, always as necessary.

Well, contextualized stories can give the impression of being a natural part of the narrative, illustrate what we are saying, and make the conversation more interesting, giving us much more secure because we had the opportunity to tell it again.

8. Enhance your Presence of Spirit

A good mood, a relaxed speech, airy, makes any conversation much more interesting, and this quality can be developed with observation and training. The best way to learn is to analyze how good-humored people behave. At first, there may even be an imitative process, and then we will develop our humor style.

Before that, we should have in mind that:

  • Humor should be used according to the intellectual level and the intelligence of the interlocutors;
  •  Uneducated people with difficulty understanding, in a general way, do not realize the subtleties of the humorous shots. 
  • They can usually take the words to the letter and feel offended by what they heard, so we should analyze our public first because of that.

An implied message, like the fine irony, for example, should be reserved for people who know that it is not what we are saying with the words but instead what is behind them. In case of doubt, exaggerate the interpretation so that people know even if we are joking.

Attention: Whenever we have to explain that what we said was a joke, it will be a good indication that we have not used the right tone in the mood. Over time we will hone this skill and the risks of making a mistake practically disappear.

9. Keep Up to Date

“Have you’ve heard about…” is the phrase that can save our conversation. So, we must keep up to date, especially in the days leading up to a social event.

Browse news sites, read newspapers and magazines, “including sections that don’t interest you,” says Mark Simchock; this will make us have a complete repertory of knowledge about different subjects, which make it easier to talk with multiple groups of people.

10. Being Authentic is a Core ingredient of a Great Conversation

According to Psychology Today’s research, when dealing with people who are not authentic, we often walk away feeling uncomfortable or manipulated, and our blood pressure rises.

Bad Conversations Composers

• Dry texter

Text messages are designed so that we can talk to people faster and more fun, dry messages are those that only respond to what is asked and these convey a lack of interest.

• Boring

Boring conversations are the ones that don’t bring any new content, there is always monotony that we can even predict what is going to be discussed; when we talk to people we always want to learn something new and share news. So a tedious conversation can often be the reason for the withdrawal from that person we were so interested in.

• Monologues

A monologue in a conversation is when only one person brings content to the table, even the most egocentric people can get upset if they spend all their time talking about them and not listening to any comments. We should avoid the monologues at all costs by giving necessary and interesting comments.

Composers of  Great Conversations Success and Failures 
1. Minimum friction1. Repetition
2. Listening to what the others have to say2. Self-centered
3. Ask them to tell us more3. Criticizing, complaining, or condemning
4. Maintain eye contact

How to Avoid Bad Conversations

Change or turn off the subject.

If our interlocutor is boring and monopolizes the wheel, speaking of the same theme, without stopping – and without interest to anyone else;

 take the initiative: choose any subject we would like to talk about, and invent any pretext to divert the theme using a well-constructed question.

Avoid Oversharing

A general term in our society is over-sharing; you know when you know that annoying person who tells exaggerated details about his life right in the first conversation? Then don’t be that person.

Evaluate your relationship with the other person. Before we share information, ask himself: “Is that the appropriate person to discuss this?” For example, we probably do not want to discuss hemorrhoids with your coworker. He does not need this information, and we’ll probably be uncomfortable hearing about it.

The Importance of Having a Good Conversation
In family lifeThrough dialogue, parents and children know each other better, especially their respective opinions and their ability to verbalize feelings.
In professional lifeGood communication in the workplace prevents the information from being inadequately disseminated. In general, improving communication in the work environment contributes to proposing solutions, presenting ideas, explaining strategies, making agreements, etc., clearly and objectively.


Communication is crucial because it builds and maintains relationships. Relationships are constructed and can be supported by positive encounters with others. Communication will be critical to this process, and without adequate skills, it won’t be easy to build correctly and promote productive relationships.

References and Further Reading

300 Examples of Interesting Questions to Ask in a Conversation

AcethePresentation. AmadeBai, Emidio. How to Improve Your Communication Skills – 7 Essential Tips.

AcethePresentation. AmadeBai, Emidio. Top 9 Interpersonal Communication Barriers.

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