I'm guessing that you and I both spend a lot of time in meetings and discussions at work. Here are three things you can do to make them count:
Yesterday I watched a manager engage another manager in a topic that was clearly important (to manager #1). I watched manager #2 respond. It went well. Why? Because of the response.
When someone engages you in serious conversation, your reaction will either encourage the other person to keep talking or stop things dead in their tracks. (Our manager #2 wasn't a conversation killer). Here's a list of some stoppers I've seen: lecturing, interrogating, ordering, blaming, and moralizing. Don't think so? Take a moment to replay the last six unpleasant conversations you've had.
Overcome Personal Bias
Become aware of your own stereotypical thinking that ultimately leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy as a result of your predictable responses. It's difficult, but there's a big payoff in learning to listen objectively. What's the payoff? Our reception to messages is unclouded and we actually learn something new. Learning organizations are listening organizations.
Off-The-Subject Subjects Are the Subject
You've heard a remark in the middle of a conversation that seems "off topic" and, therefore, irrelevant.
You may be hearing what is really on the other person's mind. See what happens if you pursue the new subject. You may very well be the one who helps get the real issue out on the table and resolved.
What tips would you add from your experience?