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11 Ways to Stop One-Sided Conversations and Start Really Communicating

11 Ways to Stop One-Sided Conversations and Start Really Communicating

One-sided conversations can be frustrating and lead to poor communication and disengagement. At work you want to make a good impression, but constantly dealing with one-sided conversations can be frustrating for both sides. Whether it’s a boss who is making you feel incompetent with their monologues or a colleaugue who never proactively communicates information with you, it’s important to find ways to stop one-sided communications and improve your dialogue.

What Are One-Sided Conversations?

A one-sided conversation is a type of communication in which one person does all the talking and the other person does not respond or participate in a meaningful way. This can occur in both spoken and written communication.

One-sided conversations are common in situations where there is a power imbalance, such as between a teacher and student or boss and employee. It can also occur in social situations where one person is dominating the conversation, either intentionally or unintentionally.

This dynamic can be a frustrating dynamic for both parties. The passive listener may feeling they are getting talked over and not given space to participate in the conversation or communicate their own ideas. A one-sided conversation can start to feel like a never-ending monologue. This can lead the passive party to feel uncomfortable, bored, or disengaged and make them avoidant of the situation in the future.

Meanwhile, the active speaker may feel frustrated that they are not being heard or acknowledged especially if the passive party is not responding or appears disinterested.

From being clear about your expectations to avoid the use of jargon, here are 11 career experts’ tips on preventing one-sided conversations and improving communicatio.

How to Stop One-sided Conversations and Communicate Better

Practice Polite Interjection

Some people are talkers. They have a tendency to talk over others in conversation, even when they don’t mean to. Often this is exacerbated by others’ timidity when it comes to speaking up for themselves. Before anyone knows it, a conversation has turned into a monologue and no one is better for it.

It’s a good idea to practice a bit of assertiveness when it comes to people who tend to dominate conversations. You won’t need to be coarse in any way. You can listen to the person speaking and wait for a natural place to interject, such as a lull in the conversation.

Once you find your opening, speak up politely and let them know you have something to say. For the majority of people, that will be a cue for them to allow another person to have their turn. The most important element will be speaking up and not letting yourself be overtaken. It’s not rude to be assertive.

Speak in Short Paragraphs, Not Monologues

Some people are naturally long-winded, which makes it hard for conversations to be two-sided. I’m guilty of this at times, so I’ve started trying to limit my talking time to just a couple of sentences at a time.

For example, when I’m telling a friend about a new project at work, I’ll share one idea at a time and pause in between to see if they ask questions or have something to share. Even though I might not say everything I wanted to share, this helps keep the other person engaged and part of the conversation. Doing this also helps the conversation to flow more naturally. We can feed off of each other’s responses, which may lead to ideas and topics we might not have talked about otherwise.

If you’re on the receiving end of a long monologue, let your body language do the talking. Making eye contact and making moves as though you have something to add can often stop the other person long enough for you to contribute.

Alli Hill, Founder and Director, Fleurish Freelance

Have An Agenda Set Pre-conversation

One of the most effective ways to prevent a conversation from being one-sided is to ensure that you have an agenda set pre-conversation, and to make this a rule for any conversation that occurs in the context of a meeting or a performance review. This then gives each person not only the opportunity to speak, but ensures that they don’t forget any core points that they may have wanted to allude to throughout the conversation or meeting.

Practice Active Listening

To prevent one-sided conversations and improve communication, I would suggest focusing on active listening. Active listening means really trying to understand what the other person is saying rather than just waiting for your turn to talk. It involves paying attention to their words, body language, and tone of voice. If you take time to truly listen and show that you are engaged in what they are saying, it will help create a two-way conversation.

Additionally, try asking questions about topics of interest-this can help keep the conversation going as well as demonstrate a genuine interest in the other person. With these strategies in mind, you can easily establish a strong connection through positive communication.

Arkadiusz Terpilowski, Head of Growth and Co-founder, Primetric

Adhere to a Closed Loop Conversation Cycle

One of the best tips for preventing one-sided conversations and improving communication is to adhere to a closed-loop conversation cycle. This means that when someone makes a statement, the speaker should take responsibility for listening and replying back with acknowledgment or expanding on the thought.

An example of a closed-loop conversation cycle would be if one person mentions they are feeling tired due to lack of sleep, they should expect an answer such as “That sounds exhausting” and not get left hanging without any response. Listening intently and responding in an open-hearted manner will build trust, reinforce mutual understanding, and create more meaningful dialogue between individuals.

Avoid Distracted Body Language

Avoid distracted body language. When you’re in a conversation, make it a point to pay attention to what your counterpart is saying, and avoid the urge to check your phone, look around the room, or play with your keys.

Even if you’re not interested in what they’re saying, give off the impression that you are, and pay attention to what they say. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference this one small gesture can make. If you’re the one doing all the listening and not contributing, you can fall into the trap of having your body language say, “I’m not paying attention,” which can give the impression that you’re not open to what the other person has to say.

So, if you’re having a one-sided conversation, it’s worth paying attention to your body language so you can avoid anything that might project disinterest or boredom.

Luciano Colos, Founder and CEO, PitchGrade

Think About What You Want To Say Before You Say It

Communication needs to be clear and effective if you want to avoid having one-sided conversations. If you find yourself stuttering or not able to get your thoughts across in a clear way, it will only incentivize other people in the conversation to pick up the slack and complete those thoughts for you, which can lead to one person doing the majority of the speaking.

When you’re conversing with others, take a moment to think about what you want to say before you say it. You might even want to think out the exact words you want to say in your mind as your conversation partner is speaking so that once it comes time to add your thoughts to the conversation, you have a developed train of thought already rehearsed in your mind. A little consideration can go a long way in improving your ability to communicate and avoid one-sided conversations.

Take your time and be deliberate with your words and thoughts, and your conversation skills will improve by leaps and bounds.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Ask open-ended questions within open-ended questions! If you would like more detailed answers, ask the person you are talking with to elaborate. Ask them how they would deal with a certain issue. Ask them what they learned from an experience. How would they go about it if it happened tomorrow? Ask what they wish they had done differently in that situation. Try your best to have a discussion-not with just a barrage of questions-try to have an actual conversation.

Kristina Ramos, Reverse Recruiter, Find My Profession

Avoid a Blunt “No” and Add Further Information To Continue the Conversation

The first rule of improvisation is to agree, and the second rule is to add information. These principles are excellent tools for ensuring the proper flow of communication and the continuation of a conversation.

For example, observe what happens when these rules are ignored: “Do you like watching TV?” “No.” As you can see, the conversation has been brought to an abrupt end. Instead, reply using the following format: “Do you like watching TV?” “I enjoy many different kinds of media, in particular, I enjoy reading..”

By avoiding a blunt “No”, and adding further information to continue the conversation, you can avoid awkward and abrupt conversation stoppers, while steering the conversation towards a more appropriate topic.

Ben Schwencke, Business Psychologist, Test Partnership

Be Clear About Your Expectations

I think that the best way to prevent one-sided conversations is to be clear about your expectations. If you are going to be communicating with someone on a regular basis, it’s important to be upfront with them about what you want to see from the communication. This can be as simple as having a weekly check-in or making sure they are answering your messages in a timely manner. By being clear about your expectations, you can make sure that your communication is a two-way street.

Avoid Using Jargon

Have you ever been in a situation where you simply didn’t understand what the other person was talking about? They may have been using jargon or technical terms that you weren’t familiar with. Using technical terms in conversation can be a huge barrier to effective communication, especially if the other person is unfamiliar with the specific terminology or industry.

Even if the other person is in the same industry, they may not fully understand what you’re talking about if they have less experience than you do. It’s important to use language that is clear and easy to understand when you communicate with others, opting to be more simple and straightforward when speaking. You also need to be mindful of who you’re talking to and adapt the terminology you use to terms or language they may understand.

By avoiding jargon, you will also avoid confusion and misinterpretation from others, making your message more well-received and understood.

Joe Acosta, Digital Marketing Manager, BBQ Galore


One-sided conversations should be avoided when possible as they are generally considered to be poor communication and eventually leads disinterest, frustration, or disrespect for one or both parties involved. Ideally a conversation should be a two-way exchange where both participants have an equal opportunity to express themselves and listen to each other. Having a balanced conversation helps to build understanding and trust between people, which is critical for personal and professional relationships.