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4 Steps to More Meaningful Conversations

4 Steps to More Meaningful Conversations

Summer vacation has continued over the last few weeks for me and the family. My time has been filled with camping, climbing, running, and playing in water. Here a few images from vacation time!

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With all this quality family time, I haven’t had a chance to give you my best in a blog this week so I wanted a share with you an interesting article on a communication technique from podcast host of the hugely successful Mixergy, Andrew Warner. At the end I share a missed opportunity to use his technique from earlier this week.

Let me introduce you to the “Shoved Fact Technique.”

by Andrew Warner, Founder, Mixergy

You may never have noticed it, but inside every conversation, people are shoving clues at you and they’re DYING for you to ask about them. They WANT you to pick up these hints – but you you probably don’t even notice them.

Once you learn how to pick up these clues, you’ll know how to ask the right questions and create space for real conversations. This technique works in any conversation, in any interview, and in any part of your life. It will help your sales and build your business.


Here’s a real example from my life. See if you can spot the clues:

At Thanksgiving a few years ago, my friend Jeff (not his real name) came into our house and said, “I’m sorry I’m late. Everything after a divorce takes twice as long. My daughter couldn’t find her jacket. And traffic in the Bay area is horrible”

One of my other friends responded, “I know what you mean. It’s because of the tech companies recruiting people to move here from all over the country.”

And a third friend jumped in and said, “don’t worry about any of that now. You’re at dinner. You can relax and forget about it all.”

Did you notice what Jeff was dying to talk about? It wasn’t about the traffic. It wasn’t about being late.

Did you notice how Jeff didn’t have to tell us about his divorce when he walked in? He could have blamed traffic. He could have explained that his daughter had trouble finding her jacket, and left it at that.

But he kind of shoved the fact about his divorce in there.

And why shouldn’t he. He was going through a major life event. He wanted to talk about it. He NEEDED to talk about it.

Meanwhile, what did everyone at the table drive the conversation towards? All the meaningless BS of life, like traffic.

If you take nothing else out of your relationship with me except this one point, you’ll live a richer life. But make sure you understand it.

People are shoving seemingly random facts into conversations, begging for you to ask about them. All you have to do is look for the personal facts that don’t need to be in the conversation but they’re somehow shoved in. Then ask about them.

Your questions don’t even have to be well-structured. You just have to care enough to ask.

At Thanksgiving, even something as simple as this would do: “So the divorce is causing everything to take twice as long? What’s been going on?”

When you do that, you give the other person a chance to finally release what they’ve been holding in for so long and show you who they really are.

The clues are everywhere.

This is where interviewing comes in. Interviewing helps you to connect. Interviewing teaches you to deepen the conversation, so that the other person can say what he or she really wants to say.

It’s about listening to what’s happening, and thinking “Why did he just shove that random fact into the conversation?”

I can hear you thinking “That technique may be good for personal conversations, but what about business scenarios?” If you want to get customers, you have to know how to talk to people. This works anywhere. Look for the seemingly random facts people shove into conversations. Then ask about them.

The Shoved Fact Technique:

Step 1: Look for facts that are shoved into a conversation Step 2: Pick the one that’s most personal (yeah, I want you to get personal) Step 3: Ask a question about the shoved fact Step 4: Shut up.

Shutting up is hard because when you’re new at this you’re going to want to apologize or say something like, “you don’t have to answer that if you don’t want to.” Don’t be that kind of a jerk. You just gave the other person a chance to release something they’re dying to tell you. Don’t take that chance away from them.

I know it’s hard to shut up after a tough question. In the early days of interviewing, back when I recorded over the phone, after asking some questions I would actually hit the mute button and mentally say to myself, “shut up. shut up. shut up.” I did it to keep from apologizing for asking about something that I knew the guest wanted to talk about. And it worked. After a moment, they’d open up. (Sometimes the moment seems to last forever, but it’s only a moment. Be patient.)


This actually happened to me the other day when speaking with a friend I have not seen in many years. I was very interested to catch up with her and hear about how things were going in her life. Likewise she wanted to hear about what I have been doing. Early on in the conversation she said, “So how is it being a entrepreneur?” I responded with the great opportunities and challenges it presents and then quickly moved on with the conversation. If I was using Andrew’s Shoved Fact Technique I would have inquired about her entrepreneur comment. Perhaps she was thinking about becoming and entrepreneur herself or wondered what motivated me to become one. Her question was a little out of context. The next time I will be more alert to the cues that will help me take my conversations to the next level.

I am now back in the office and will be bringing some fresh new content to you next week. Enjoy the last few weeks of summer (if you are in the Northern Hemisphere)!!