Have you been in a situation where you had a one-on-one conversation with someone who's in a higher rank than you? Might it be the company CEO, CTO, COO, CMO, CFO etc. or one with a VP, Director, Senior title? How was the experience talking to them?
More than just "how are you?", "how have you been?", "what's new?" is the intention to connect and speak with intimacy. This type of conversation is rare and expensive, especially if you're someone who's in the bottom of the food chain. Some might have to wait for a long time before getting a chance.. Some might just gets denied upon making such request.. Some might only end up with nothing as they lack the courage to formally ask.
If ever you'll get this opportunity, make it worth..
I am not an expert in communication, however, I was privilege enough to have many of these circumstances throughout my career. My purpose for sharing this insights is not for you to feel prepared on every conversation but rather for you to be mindful of your thoughts, your words and obviously your phrases.
Time is limited, get to the point
Don't waste someone's time by talking about senseless things. By the time both of you sat down, either party can start talking. One of the mistakes I've made before is trying to control the conversation and shifting it to the wrong side, causing the discussion to be out-of-place and so, someone loss the interest of talking. Think of the things you most care about, it's somewhat a good way to think of a topic..
Provide a history, how you came up with the question
In case you have some questions in mind, always prepare your reasoning with you. This is the most important thing to backup what you're questioning and it will also help the person you're asking compose his answers. It's been my practice that when I ask, I then follow it up with "... the reason why I'm asking is". As for me, It gives more flavor to the question!
Ask something personal (ie. habits, thought process, guiding principles)
If you happen to look up to the person you're speaking with, this is a great chance for you to know more of him and his practices. I'm pretty sure that the person you're talking to won't have any reasons not to answer these questions, especially knowing that it's only you who's listening to what he's about to say.
Share your outlook, plans and reflections
Not all the time, one-on-one's are purely work related talk. At some point, it's good when you share topics like planned vacations (talk about the place and occasion), how you view life and everything that is yet to come, personal take on certain topics, perhaps your preference..
Having this discussion on the table, you're basically giving the person more idea about you and your perspective.
Always ask them if they have other questions
You might not know it, but always give people the chance to think if they still have questions for you. Always ask them, prior to ending the conversation. This is also a great form of courtesy and for sure people will appreciate it.
Bonus: In asking question, the thing that makes it more enticing for someone to answer it is -- sincerity! If you're not sincere, people can tell. If you're not sincere, why ask?
I hope you will have that smile after every one-on-one... I always want the best for everyone!