The general principle of good conversation is knowing how to give the right feedback or answer(s) to the communicator or sender of the message.
Communicate with one exclusively:
Multitasking during a conversation privately or on the phone is rude and inconsiderate unless it is an emergency which can’t wait but that is an extreme rarity. Give your complete attention to the human to whom you are talking to and they will feel important and acknowledged.
Make eye contact:
Don’t stare wide eyed at the human to whom you are talking to exclusively but do focus on the eyes or lips most of the time because it communicates trust and respect. If you don’t trust or respect the human whom you are talking to then eye contact is not that important and it can be occasional.
If your eyes are somewhere else you may seem that you are not being sincere or have something to hide or are even shy. I occasionally deviate slightly from eye contact and have a serious thinking face if there is such a thing when I agree or disagree with an opinion and I consider that perfectly normal for me. Rather than look at an emotionally contorted or angry face I divert eye attention to the shoulder or other body part to show my disproval and absence of a desire to look at an emotional facial display. When the emotional display is over then I focus back on the eyes and calmly answer.
Ask some questions:
Sometimes asking whether your assessment of the conversation’s important details is accurate is all the questioning which is necessary. Sometimes asking questions during the conversation is necessary to show that you are following what is being said and are trying to identify the important points or convey that you are thinking about the important points during the conversation. Asking questions suggests a serious attraction to a conversation and communicates that you are paying attention to what is being said.
Write down important facts:
Especially in a serious business conversation since most of us do not have perfect memories, it is smart to write down important facts or opinions which may be hard to remember a day or week after the conversation. It will be more efficient and you won’t get back an embarrassing answer at a future date that we discussed that topic before, don’t you remember?
Read and respond to the entire email:
Read and respond to all the points in an email so you don’t get misunderstandings about your answers. Not reading all the important points and replying to all of them can cause great inefficiency and misunderstandings because you will get confused emails back asking for further explanations about the points missed in the original email. If there are too many questions to answer then pick up the phone and discuss them all efficiently as short and to the point as possible.
Have a consistent response schedule:
Nothing is more frustrating than sending a text or email and not knowing when you will get a response. Try to make a general callback scheduling rule such as no more than 20 minutes to respond to a text and no more than 24 hours to respond to an email. Humans will appreciate that you have regular response habits and that you can be relied to respond in a timely fashion without forgetting completely and making unnecessary excuses about why you didn’t answer a communication.
Assume best intentions for short communications:
If a communication is short and to the point some humans may feel that you are being rude or you may think a human doing so is rude. Nothing could be further from the truth, assume the best intentions and be thankful that your time is not being wasted. Humans will add their own emotions to a short message and if there is friction or animosity between you then they may sometimes assume it is a hostile or aggressive message.
Complete acknowledgement of a message:
Nothing is so frustrating as to be anxious about whether a message was received or went to spam or wound up elsewhere. When you get a text of email reply promptly by saying “thank you” or “I got it” as a confirmation and this will not cause anxiety in the sender.
If you liked this evergreen blog then read more of them and one or more of my evergreen books, especially COMMON SENSE.