Critical, or honest, conversations need to be great, whether it's easy or tough. They involve listening as a key part of the exchange of feedback between manager and team member. Listening is the highest form of communication. It's true. Skillful conversations, such as that between manager and team member, should involve a higher level of listening. Coaching involves global listening, or at the very least, active listening (listening to understand).
Having some simple principles to adhere to when holding a conversation will turn them from good to great.
We can all hold great conversations
Holding great conversations involves awareness, learning and practice. Here are ten things to master that will enable you to hold an awesome conversation. You'll notice listening is a key feature!
- Don't multi task, i.e. be present in the moment. Don't be anywhere but in the conversation.
- Use good, clean, rich questions such as what, how, what if, who. One question at a time.
- Be open to learning and change for yourself.
- This is not about you.
- Hold rapport as this is how you will hold trust. Stay honest.
- Stay at a level of listening where you have cut out distractions, your own mind chatter and interrupting thoughts. Listen ,listen, listen. Practice, practice, practice.
- Try not to go over old ground or repeat yourself.
- Remember we don't know other peoples' lives or their experiences. Those are unique to them. Your experience doesn't equate with theirs, and if things are tough for them it's not the same 'tough' as it is for you.
- As Susan Scott would say, take responsibility for your own emotional wake.
- Talk less and slow down. We like to talk because that gives us control. Skilled listening is more effective. Slow down, shut up and listen to understand.
Every conversation counts
Susan Scott writes about the principles of "fierce conversations" and how we need to get better at holding them. It's a great book and worth reading. She includes these two points, which for me are important ones to work on:
- Be accountable. The accountable position of responsibility starts with me and no one else in every conversation.
- Great conversations build the relationship. They take place one conversation at a time. That means every conversation, not just the formal ones that are planned and scheduled, counts. The conversation is the relationship.
Achieving success in work and in life arises from many things, including the ability to hold skillful, compelling conversations.
I help people, teams and organisations become more effective and successful. Holding great conversations is at the heart of many of the programmes and training workshops I provide. I have some templates, outlines and ideas for half, full and two day programmes focused on great (read that also as honest/critical/crucial/brilliant/compelling) communications that can be delivered in house. Here's a link to training workshops I provide where you'll find an array of topics, including holding critical conversations.
Get in touch if you'd like to discuss learning, coaching or training in holding great conversations. I look forward to holding a great conversation!