I prefer conversations that…

Dennis Sparks

Long ago I realized that I quickly lost interest during meetings that are essentially serial monologues — speaker after speaker pontificating at great length with few if any opportunities for meaningful, engaging conversations.

As a result, I resolved that whenever possible I would help create professional conversations in meetings and elsewhere that would be meaningful and intellectually stimulating for me and others.

As a starting point to creating such conversations I reflected on my own preferences. I prefer conversations:

• that deeply examine a small number of subjects to those that skate across the surface of many topics,

• in which participants spend at least as much time listening as they do talking,

• in which there is openness to the perspectives of others rather than defensiveness about one’s point of view,

• in which participants learn something important about themselves and each other,

• that strengthen relationships through candor and celebration rather than undermine them through obfuscation and negativity, and

• that use professional literature, research, and other forms of intellectual stimulation as a starting point rather than relying solely on personal opinion and experience, although they may help inform the discussion.

What have I missed?

4 Responses to “I prefer conversations that…”


  1. 1 Paul Tufts April 15, 2015 at 7:52 am

    Enjoyed the read Dennis, thank you. I like the points you have listed and would add ” an agreement upon the next steps”. I believe that these ‘Next Steps’ need to be explicit – noting who is responsible for what – and provide a clear timeline. This is critical in order to continue to move forward.

  2. 3 Jamie April 15, 2015 at 8:22 am

    Great post, Dennis! How about…conversations that stimulate more questions with answers that lead to novel thinking and ideas…Image the change that could be possible if your list was used as a guide to meetings everywhere.

    • 4 Dennis Sparks April 15, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      I appreciate your comment, Jamie. Good conversations, I think, often lead us to think what we haven’t thought, to believe what we haven’t believed, and to take actions that we may not have previously thought possible…


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