As someone who spends a lot of time professionally and personally in meaningful dialogue, I know the power of connecting over conversation. All highly effective conversations, whether face-to-face, on the phone, one-on-one, or with many, have similar elements that make them more impactful. Here’s how to get the most out of your conversations.

Know What You Want

Know what you want from the conversation. Why are you having the conversations? What are your objectives? Whether you’re trying to sell something, learn something, share something, or improve something, know why you’re engaging in the conversation and what you want to come away with. Many conversations take a circuitous route – they meander, take side roads, and detour – but it’s important to know how to get the conversation back on track. Highly effective conversations require focus and have clear objectives.

Bring your best self

No conversation is a monologue; it’s a dialogue – and dialogue requires giving and receiving. Listening and learning are as important, if not more important, than talking and telling. What do you know about the other person? What do they want? How can you help each other? Bringing your best self to a conversation means coming with an open mind to listen and learn, an open heart to accept and appreciate, and a sense of humor because laughter breaks down barriers. Highly effective conversations connect us.

Create a safe space

Patience is required to create a space where great conversations take place. It’s how conversations go deeper and get to a higher level. Slow down, listen carefully, and give each other time. Respond appropriately to what they’re saying and emoting. Creating a safe space is what makes it possible to be comfortable asking difficult questions – and getting them answered honestly. Highly effective conversations cannot be rushed.

Take note

The more senses we involve in conversation, the more we remember. Even if they’re mental, take notes. Pay attention not only to what’s being said but to the sound and tone of their voice. Notice what they’re wearing – colors, patterns and textures. Pay attention to their body language and how it changes over the course of the conversation. Record your impressions, whether through photos, notes, or reflection afterward. Highly effective conversations leave a lasting impression.

Take Action

Action always starts with thanks, so thank the person for the conversation. Be specific in your thanks. There is always appropriate action after the conversation– whether it is plans to meet again, more information you’ll share, or insight you’ll pass on to others. Don’t let the conversation just fade away. Highly effective conversations continue to live long after the dialogue ends.

Highly-effective conversations change everyone involved. We all come away knowing more, understanding more, and feeling more connected.

Originally published on Business 2 Community