Conversational crickets be gone. Author Daniel Menaker's got chatter on the brain. In A Good Talk: The Story and Skill of Conversation, Menaker writes that conversation—especially of the aimless, non-agenda'd variety—can help people find common ground. And that can be a pretty darn helpful tool for getting people to move past their differences and get the most out of a meeting.
"In any really good conversation, what will come out is an honest—even if it's indirect—confession of uncertainty of some kind," he says. "To make a real contact with someone, you need to admit your vulnerabilities or your concerns."