You may ask yourself if fostering meaningful conversations at work is worth the time and effort. Well, we have the answer – it is definitely worth it.
Creating meaningful conversations with coworkers can deliver positive results that extend beyond strong workplace connections. Meaningful conversations can promote active listening and encourage people to share their thoughts, leading to further growth. Additionally, having these conversations allows coworkers to understand each other’s values and beliefs, which helps fuel decisions behind team composition and which assignments should be tackled by the people best suited for the task. They also strengthen relationships and understanding, helping increase the team’s morale.
These positive results aren’t often found overnight, and usually, need plenty of time to develop like a friendship takes time to grow. These are 10 ways you can have meaningful conversations with coworkers!
1. Stay Current
Keeping up-to-date on the latest news can help you form topics to discuss, especially if they are relevant to your industry.
2. Show Enthusiasm
Being attentive and expressing a clear interest in what others say is the first step to having more meaningful conversations. If you allow other people to share their own thoughts or beliefs, in most cases, they won’t mind hearing from you in return.
3. Explore Common Ground
Discovering a topic that you both share at least some level of interest in will pave the way for deeper, more meaningful conversations in the future. A good example of this is finding a hobby that you both share. There are a few easy ways to do this – for starters, ask a coworker what they enjoy doing in their free time.
For a creative twist, ask what they would do if the entire office was suddenly given the rest of the week off from work. Would they go on an impromptu vacation as far away as possible? Stay busy at home with chores they’ve been ignoring for a long time? Or would they spend the time catching up on sleep?
4. Bring up Pop Culture
As of February 2019, the streaming service giant Netflix has 139.6 million accounts using its service worldwide. That number doesn’t factor in people who have multiple profiles saved to each account, so the total viewership is likely even greater. With that in mind, it’s likely one or two of your coworkers is contributing to that number. Talking about a recently-enjoyed movie or TV show is an easy and fun way to connect with coworkers.
5. Select a Spot for Discussion
Whether it’s due to loud volume or a lack of focus, meaningful conversations can’t always come about in crowded public areas. This is why holding discussions in the office break room or lunch area are worth pursuing.
Talking with coworkers during lunchtime is a great way to get yourself acquainted with the rest of the team, learn about their hobbies or favorite past-times, and talk about topics outside of the business. Perhaps your lunchtime doesn’t coincide with everyone else’s, so forming a conversation around the coffee machine during a break can be another great way to talk with coworkers.
6. Be Yourself
Trying to be something that you aren’t doesn’t usually end well and isn’t sustainable. The mask is eventually broken, so why bother faking it? Being yourself is easier and more comfortable. We all have little quirks that make us who we are. sharing them with coworkers can be a funny point of discussion and make you appear more down-to-Earth. Here’s a fun example: “Whenever I leave the bathroom, I have to flick the light on and off three times. It’s a weird habit I’ve had for years.”
7. Avoid the Weather
There’s nothing wrong with mentioning the weather on occasion, especially if it’s showing strange behavior. But making it the focus of every conversation can cause interactions to feel vapid or stale. Discussing the weather has become the de-facto backup plan, and it should usually be reserved for just that – as a backup.
8. Share a Personal Story
This one doesn’t have to be SUPER personal, but opening up about one of your life experiences can make the path toward having meaningful conversations easier to discover. It helps other people understand your thought process in a situation outside of the business.
A few examples to try might be sharing stories about your child’s school play, if you have upcoming weekend plans or a story about a past vacation you particularly enjoyed.
9. Ask for Help & Offer Input
Nobody is perfect, and we all need help sometimes. If you have questions regarding your work, don’t be afraid to ask! If a coworker is friendly they will be more than happy to assist. Having early interactions like this will open the door to holding more meaningful conversations in the future.
On a similar note, if you excel in a certain field or have skills that can help others, try offering your expertise. Simply expressing your willingness to help can build a stronger relationship between two people.
10. Create Open-Ended Questions
Try not to rely entirely on yes or no questions. If you do use them, follow up with an open-ended response to encourage discussion. Conversations feel stiff and one-sided when they consist of simple yes and no answers since they don’t always have a clear point of progression.
If the conversation recipient still won’t budge and doesn’t give you much to work with, go for the tried-and-true follow-up question of asking “Why?” Otherwise, it’s possible your coworker isn’t the talkative type. The only thing that matters is that you tried your best!
Forging meaningful conversations with coworkers isn’t easy, and in some cases, it can be a lengthy process. Despite this, these conversations are still worth pursuing to promote active listening and encourage fresh ideas at the company. These are just some ways you can begin to have meaningful conversations with coworkers!