Established, since 1997, leading UK based training provider.
Celebrating 25 years in business! CPD Member - The CPD Certification Service ilm Recognised Provider

What is the Conversation Cycle?

What is the Conversation Cycle?

What is the Conversation Cycle?

Definition: The Conversation Cycle is a model which shows how we can use four interrelated communication skills - informing, inviting, listening, acknowledging - to get the best results from all our conversations.

Conversations are an opportunity for people to share information, ideas and emotions. Ideally, everyone in the conversation should be cycling through each of the four stages, so that, as the speaker is "informing" and "inviting", the others are "listening" and "acknowledging".

Then people swap roles, so that, when the conversation is finished, everyone has completed the "conversation cycle".

Let us examine each of the four elements of the conversation cycle.


Informing is when speakers verbalise their thoughts, ideas, opinions and feelings.

Speakers should think first, and then speak.

Many people have the bad habit of verbalising their thought process as they speak.

Consequently, they are not strictly "communicating their ideas and opinions". Instead they are letting others listen-in on their thought process as they struggle to form their ideas and opinions.

Instead of giving a running commentary on your thought process, slow down and figure out what you really want to say. Think before you speak. Do not blurt-out ill formed ideas.


Invite is when the speaker pauses and invites comments or questions on the content they have already expressed.

Many speakers talk too much and for too long, without pausing to invite comments.

This is a mistake, and the conversation becomes a "monologue", where a single person hogs the conversational limelight.

Good conversationalists know when to stop talking and invite comment.

Now let us look at the other two complementary communication cycle skills.


There are two forms of listening: Passive and Active.

Passive listening: Many people are passive: they allow their minds to wander. True listening is an active thought process. It takes effort.

Active listening: Active listening is a fully conscious attempt to understand what the speaker is saying.

When you are listening, look at the persons face, and try to visualise what they are saying.

If you actively try to visualise what you are hearing, your comprehension will double, and you will, by implication, complement the speaker, by doing them the honour of actively listening.


Acknowledge is affirming to the speaker your understanding (though not necessarily your agreement) of what has been said.

Acknowledgement can come in many forms:

"You're wrong!" is not a good way to acknowledge an idea you disagree with. "I understand." is a better way to acknowledge an idea you don't agree with.

"I agree", is a good way to acknowledge an idea you do agree with.

Whether agreement is gained or not, the people now swap roles: The original "informer-inviter" becomes the "listener- acknowledger" and vice-versa.

And so, the conversation cycle continues.

Further reading: How to be a good conversationalist.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

Blogs by Email

Do you want to receive an email whenever we post a new blog? The blogs contain article 5-10 minutes long - ideal for reading during your coffee break!

Further Reading in Communication - Clear Communication

  • Communication Skills: Clear, Rational and Positive
    Do people always understand what you mean, or do you leave ambiguities in your message? Learn how to make your communication clear, rational and positive, in order to engage people and get your ideas across and accepted.
    Read Article >
  • Why is Communication Skills Training Important?
    Good communication is a key skill needed by people in every organisation to build good staff rapport and avoid misunderstandings. By attending communication skills training you become aware of what areas you could develop.
    Read Article >
  • Communication Skills: Clear Thinking
    One of the best ways to improve the clarity of your thinking is to get into the habit of differentiating between pairs of similar but opposing concepts.
    Read Article >
  • Communication Skills: ABC Principle
    Making sure that people understand your message is important, and there are three ways you can make this happen: By being accurate, being brief and being clear. We call this the ABC principle.
    Read Article >
  • How to Communicate More Clearly
    Don't run the risk of being misunderstood. Improve your chances of success, in both your career and personal relationships, with these four simple but effective ways, to improve your communication technique.
    Read Article >

Looking for Communication Skills Training?

If you're looking to develop your Clear Communication Skills, you may find this Communication Skills Training Course beneficial:

Open Training Course Pricing and Availability

9 October
Online - Teams
£475 +VAT
9 October
Birmingham M6 J7
£475 +VAT
Course Full
16 October
London - Central
£475 +VAT
25 October
Manchester City
£475 +VAT
More dates and locations available
Save £50 on this course

Next Open Course Starts in 9 days, Online - Teams, places available Book Now >