1 second in – your opening phrase, comment, or question

What are you going to say, more than hello? There are different types of engagements, and you need to make a decision based on your intention, how well you know each other, what your culture accepts, what you want to get out of the interaction, and how you judge the willingness of the person you are greeting to engage.

That’s a lot of information to consider, but, again, most of the time you do this without thinking about it. If you want to get better, then I suggest thinking about it. 

There are plenty of neutral openings:

– How are you doing?

– What’s going on?

– How’s work?

– Good to see you, how are things?

– What are you doing here?

– How long have you been here?

– Etc.

Nothing wrong with that, but this course is called One-foot coaching conversations. I relate mostly to you as a relationship leader, having the primary responsibility in the conversation. If that is the case, and even if you are a curious peer and want to be a better, more interesting conversationalist, then maybe it’s a good idea to think up something more reflective. Some examples:

– Just curious, what did you get out of (or learn from) that X (conference, film, concert, book, lecture, meeting, project, party, etc.)?

– What was most interesting about that (person, conference, film, concert, book, lecture, meeting, project, party, etc.)? 

– What surprised you about that (person, conference, film, book, lecture, meeting, project, party, etc.)?

– Where are you going from here? (Or another variation of What’s your next step? Or What’s important for you today? Or What are you looking forward to today?)

– What was most (rewarding, successful, unusual, etc.) about X (experience, project, meeting that person, etc.)?


These responses will vary from – “same as usual, nothing special” to a detailed explanation. Of course, you cannot force your speaking partner to share thoughts and feelings, but at least you are giving that person the option while at the same time showing your interest.

A good conversationalist is like a good coach. They help people reflect upon purpose, values, behaviors, and next steps. And that can be done very quickly in a brief time together or help lead to a longer exchange of ideas and next steps.