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14 Tips for Better One-on-One Conversations in the Workplace

19 January 2023

One-on-one conversations are an important part of communication in the workplace. They provide an opportunity for employees to share their thoughts and ideas with their managers in a more intimate setting and can help to build better relationships between employees and managers.

However, these conversations can also be difficult to navigate, and it is important to know how to prepare for and conduct them in order to get the most out of them. Let us look at some tips for better one-on-one conversations in the workplace.

Defining a One-on-One Conversation

A one-on-one conversation is a discussion between two people in which they share their thoughts and ideas with each other. This type of conversation can be beneficial for both employees and managers, as it allows employees to communicate more openly and honestly with their managers and helps to build better relationships.

There are many different reasons why you might want to have a one-on-one conversation with your manager. Perhaps you have some ideas or suggestions that you would like to share, or you need to discuss a problem that you are having at work. Whatever the reason may be, it is important to understand the benefits of one-on-one conversations before you schedule one.



Benefits of One-on-One Conversations

There are several benefits of one-on-one conversations in the workplace, including:

Sharing Thoughts and Ideas

One of the most important benefits of one-on-one conversations is that they provide employees with an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas with their managers. In many cases, this is the only time that employees have to speak with their managers about things that are important to them.

For example, if you have an idea for a new project at work or a suggestion for how to improve an existing process, a one-on-one conversation is the perfect time to bring it up. This type of conversation also gives you the chance to ask your manager questions about things that you don't understand or express concerns that you might have.

Building Better Relationships

Another benefit of one-on-one conversations is that they can help to build better relationships between employees and managers. These types of conversations provide an opportunity for employees and managers to get to know each other better and to build trust and respect.

In many cases, the only time that employees and managers interact with each other is during brief exchanges in the hallway or passing. However, when you take the time to have a one-on-one conversation, it shows that you value your relationship with your manager and that you are willing to invest in it.

Resolving Problems

One-on-one conversations can also be used to resolve problems or conflicts that might otherwise not be resolved. In many cases, employees are hesitant to bring up problems or concerns with their managers for fear of retribution or reprisal.

However, when you have a one-on-one conversation, it shows that you are willing to work together to find a solution. This type of conversation can also help to prevent small problems from becoming bigger ones.

Learning New Skills

One-on-one conversations can also be used to help employees learn new skills or improve their performance at work. In many cases, managers are reluctant to provide feedback to employees for fear of offending them.

However, when you have a one-on-one conversation, it provides an opportunity for your manager to give you honest feedback about your performance. This feedback can be invaluable in helping you to improve your skills and become a better employee.

Understanding Expectations

One-on-one conversations can also be used to help employees understand their manager's expectations. In many cases, employees are unsure about what their manager expects from them, or they may have different ideas about what is expected.



Types of One-on-One Conversations

There are two different types of one-on-one conversations that you can have with your manager: formal and informal.

Formal Conversations

Formal one-on-one conversations are a great way to stay on track and focused in your job. They provide a structure for talking about important topics and can help to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Formal one-on-one conversations are scheduled in advance and usually have a specific purpose or goal. These types of conversations are often used to discuss performance reviews, annual goals, or objectives. Formal one-on-one conversations typically last between 30 minutes and an hour.

Informal Conversations

Informal one-on-one conversations are not scheduled in advance and usually don't have a specific purpose or goal. These types of conversations are often used to catch up with each other or to discuss topics that are not related to work. Informal one-on-one conversations typically last between 5 and 10 minutes.

Informal one-on-one conversations are a great way to build relationships with your manager. They provide an opportunity for you to get to know each other on a more personal level and can help to foster trust and respect.



Tips for Better One-on-One Conversations in the Workplace

Schedule in Advance

The best way to ensure that your formal one-on-one conversation goes smoothly is to schedule it in advance. This will give both you and your manager enough time to prepare for the meeting.

Come Prepared

In order to get the most out of your formal one-on-one conversation, it is important to come prepared. Make sure to think about the topics that you want to discuss and have any relevant documents or notes ready.

Be Respectful

One of the most important things to remember when having a formal one-on-one conversation is to be respectful. Remember that this is a time for open communication, not criticism. If you fail to respect people, they will not listen to what you have to say, and oftentimes, they will not take you seriously.

Be Open and Honest

In order to have a successful one-on-one conversation, it is important to be open and honest with each other. This means that you should feel free to share your thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment or reprisal. It is also important to listen to what the other person has to say without interrupting them.

Set Ground Rules

Before beginning your formal one-on-one conversation, it is important to set some ground rules. This will help to ensure that both you and your manager are on the same page and will prevent any misunderstandings. Some common ground rules include no interruptions, no side conversations, and no phones.

Keep it Professional

One-on-one conversations are a time for open communication, but that doesn't mean that you should forget about professionalism. Remember to maintain a polite and respectful demeanor, even if you disagree with what the other person is saying.

Be Constructive

If you have constructive feedback to give, one-on-one conversations are a great time to do so. However, it is important to remember to be respectful and positive in your approach. Criticizing someone's work can be hurtful, and oftentimes, it is not productive.



Stay Focused

It can be easy to get sidetracked during a formal one-on-one conversation. However, it is important to stay focused on the topics that you want to discuss. If you start to feel like the conversation is going off track, gently steer it back in the right direction.

Don't Criticize

One of the worst things that you can do during a one-on-one chat is to criticize your boss or co-workers. This will only make the conversation uncomfortable for everyone involved. Instead, focus on the issue at hand, and look for solutions

Avoid Sensitive Topics

There are some topics that should be avoided during one-on-one conversations, such as politics and religion. These types of discussions can easily lead to arguments, so it is best to steer clear of them altogether.

Keep It Casual

One-on-one conversations don't have to be all business. In fact, it is often helpful to keep them casual in order to build better relationships with your co-workers. This means that you should avoid talking about work-related topics and instead focus on things that you have in common.

Listen More Than You Talk

One of the best ways to make sure that your one-on-one conversation goes smoothly is to listen more than you talk. This will give you a chance to get to know your co-worker better and will also help to prevent any awkward silences.

End on a Positive Note

One-on-one conversations are a great opportunity to build relationships with your co-workers. Make sure to end on a positive note by thanking them for their time and saying that you look forward to talking again soon.

Choose A Good Location to Talk

The location of your one-on-one conversation is just as important as the actual conversation itself. Choose a place where you will both be comfortable and where you won't be interrupted.

Some good locations for one-on-one chats include:

The break room

A quiet corner in the office

A nearby coffee shop

A park or other outdoor area

If you like to have a conversation at your workstation, you both can either sit or stand by a desk. In fact, it is beneficial to have a desk in front of you during conversations. It allows you to rest your hands on a surface, and you can use gestures to prove your point better. You can also use the desk to take notes.

A great option for a desk is the Standard Standing Desk from FlexiSpot. This desk comes with an adjustable height and can go from 28 to 47.6 inches at the push of a button. The desk is optimal for office work, video meetings, and even one-on-one conversations.

Final Thoughts

One-on-one conversations are an essential part of the workplace. They allow you to build better relationships with your co-workers and can help to solve problems. In order to have a successful one-on-one conversation, it is important to be respectful, stay focused, and avoid sensitive topics. You should also make sure that you are in a comfortable location where you will not be interrupted. Finally, end on a positive note by thanking your co-worker for their time.