The 5 Different Types of Conversations

The 5 Different Types of Conversations. In Blackboard Fridays Episode 71, Jacob talks about Leadership and Productivity. Need this implemented into your business? Talk to the international business advisor who can do exactly that – Contact Jacob, Learn More, or Subscribe for Updates.

Have you ever wasted an hour in a meeting, that could have been an email instead? Or seen a simple decision drag on for weeks through an email chain, because nobody wanted to make a call?

We all know “Communication” is imperative in business – but do you appreciate the different types of communication that take place? I’m talking about the time you stuck your head into someone’s office to give them an “FYI” … and it suddenly turned into them sharing all of their ideas (even though the decision had already been made).

Or that person who came to you needing a rant, to healthily get something off their chest, but which you thought was a problem needing a solution so you spent all day trying to help them. They didn’t need your help!! You were wasting your time!!

And with so much time wasted through the wrong type of conversation, we also lose the opportunity to accelerate business by having the RIGHT chats.

So email this week’s video to your entire team. Ask them to write down the 5 Types of Conversation, and moving forward to share exactly which type of conversation they want to have.

What you say to your team is important. Why you’re saying it is even more powerful. And this simple tip will get you there more often.

Who is Jacob Aldridge, Business Coach?

“The smart and quirky advisor who gets sh!t done in business.” Back independent since 2019.

Since April 2006, I’ve been an international business advisor providing bespoke solutions for privately-owned businesses with 12-96 employees.

At this stage you have proven your business model, but you’re struggling to turn aspirations into day-to-day reality. You are still responsible for all 28 areas of your business, but you don’t have the time or budget to hire 28 different experts.

You need 1 person you can trust who can show you how everything in your business is connected, and which areas to prioritise first.

That’s me.

Learn more here. Or Let’s chat.


It’s a reality of most workplaces that you have to communicate with other people. And in fact, if you talk to individuals across a whole range of different industries, you’ll find that the number one cause of frustration for them is that communication and those other people.

Now we’ve talked in previous episodes of Blackboard Fridays about creating more effective meetings that have momentum and energy, about having clear roles and responsibilities so that each person knows exactly what they’re tasked with doing and you can lose a lot of that overlap that wastes time. We still need to communicate.

In that regard, I’ve found having this very very simple framework is an easy way for all of the members of your team to communicate more effectively and more efficiently with each other.  It’s as simple as communicating at the start of a conversation what type of conversation you’re trying to have. In other words, what’s the purpose of having this conversation? Because there are these five different purposes and when you’ve got two individuals having different conversations, it gets very very ineffective and frustrating.

So, purpose #1, ask hey, can I just ask you a question? This means that the person instigating the conversation is just looking for an answer or a solution to the problem. This can be very very quick conversation not to be confused with the second type which is a discussion. Hi, can we please have a discussion about this topic? Do you see the difference if I’m asking you a question you can give me a very direct answer. If we’re going to have a discussion, we both know in advance that this conversation is going to take more time.

Ideally, we could schedule that at a time that’s convenient for both of us. “Hey not right now I don’t have time for a proper discussion but can we do it in an hour?” By understanding in advance the type of conversation we can put it at a time that’s more effective.

The third one is a decision and again, can you see the subtle difference between a discussion and a decision. If I’m going into a conversation knowing we need to make a decision then I could hone in and focus on achieving that outcome. If we’re just having a broad discussion we don’t need to decide something then we don’t need to force ourselves towards that end and when you’ve got one person having a discussion and another having a decision conversation, friction will ensue.

The fourth type is a ‘communication’ this is almost the opposite of the ‘ask’ where the ask is ”Can I ask you a question?” the communication is more of an FYI, a ‘for your information’, “Hey just so you know they’re going to be putting a birthday cake on in ten minutes. A lot of ’FYI’ communication can be done by email but increasingly, I’m seeing businesses set behavioral norms around less email and more face-to-face communication.

If that’s you and you’re getting frustrated at the time that that conversation is taking, run this process so then you can walk in and go “Hey, I just need to communicate something with you”,  if you want FYI take this piece of information, avoid falling into a whole discussion about it, and the last most misunderstood and I find sometimes the most important type of conversation is the’ rant’. 

You know this, your team know this and indeed I hope you are showing this video to your team you’ve come out of a meeting or a conversation off a phone call and you’re just feeling ‘blah!’ and you just need to dump that ‘blah!’ onto somebody. You’re not asking a question, you’re not looking for a discussion about it you don’t want to change anything, you don’t need a decision you just need to get it off your chest.

There’s nothing worse when you just want to get something off your chest that having the other person in that conversation jump in and try and solve that problem for you turn a 30-second ‘blah!’ into a 10- minute discussion about re going over and over and over that phone conversation that you want to just get out and get on with. 

Give your team permission to have a rant as long as they set the expectation in advance that I’m here to rant let me dump this and let’s both get on with our day. Allowing that to happen means you don’t have that energy building up within your team. Think about some of the least effective, most frustrating conversations you’ve had as a team recently.

Almost certainly in every one of those situations, you had different individuals. If you had five people in that meeting or five of the mayor had a different context trying to have different types of conversation about the same content. Be clear in advance and you and your team will communicate so much better in the workplace.

Next Steps

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