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How to Make Your Conversations Count!

January 28, 2013

Have you ever walked out of a meeting and thought, ‘I sounded like an idiot in there?’ Or perhaps you felt there was an important, tough conversation you needed to have with someone and then you didn’t take the leap to say what you really wanted to say. So, how do you have more effective conversations with your staff, boss or even your customers? And how do you effectively have the tough conversations in a way that enriches the learning and actually helps the other person(s) improve?

I know this is a topic that many executives and entrepreneurs often look for help on, so I want to share my tips with you for making your conversations count!

1.Evaluate what you want to say. It is important to plan out before a big meeting or conversation what your most important points are. Focus on sharing your key thoughts. If you try to share too much, you appear scattered and your main thoughts may get lost.

2. Listen. This is something that 99 per cent of us can improve upon. This doesn’t just mean being quiet when another is speaking, while inside your head you line up your next point. This means clearing your mind, remaining open and really trying to focus on what the other person is saying to you.

3. Understand why you speak. This can be a very shocking and enlightening exercise. Pay attention for the next few hours to your conversations. Try to understand more than just the content. Why do you speak? Do you speak because you want to help? Maybe you want to establish your credibility and gain respect. Or, perhaps you are actually wanting to take control because you feel insecure. Really be open with yourself during this exercise. Sometimes we can actually reduce the amount of things we say, but increase our impact in our conversations by stressing the important information.

4.Open your Heart. Are you stressed about having to engage in that difficult conversation? Want to find a way to make it easier on yourself as well as more of a learning experience for the other person? Open your heart. When the conversation is built on the foundation of caring and love (yes, I did use the ‘l’ word when talking about the work place!), then both parties tend to become less defensive. For example, you could tell your staff member that you really care about him and want him to succeed in his career, but you can’t help but notice that he has missed his past three deadlines. And then allow yourself to sit back and listen. Keep approaching the hard issues, don’t back away, but continue to use your heart.

5. Ask ‘What?’  When you’re having difficult conversations, ask questions and use the word ‘What’ at the start of each sentence as much as possible. ‘What’ allows you to stay curious and listen to the other person’s perspective. Using ‘What’ (in a way that is not a leading question) is the best way to avoid the ‘he said, she said’ sorts of defensive conversations.

6. Be timely. I know we all get busy, but I urge you to talk to colleagues or your boss about issues that arise on a timely basis. No sense stressing about it for a longer period of time or delaying the obvious. Plus, what happens as time goes on is that we start to build story lines about the situation in our minds that may help to bring us some closure, but in reality we may not be capturing the truth with our stories. Get the other person’s perspective and sort it out together.

7. Don’t use e-mail. Technology is great, except when you are discussing the tough issues. If you cannot speak with the other person(s) face-to-face due to geography than opt for a phone conversation.

8. Nurture the relationship. Once you have started to work through your relationship issues, continue to communicate with the person and build on your relationship. This will demonstrate you are willing to walk the talk and continue to dialogue with them to strengthen your connection.

9.Reflect. I believe struggles are put along our paths to help us grow. Next time you’re feeling upset, take the time to reflect on why you feel this way. Ask yourself, ‘What can I learn from this?’ And then listen for the answers. Use controversy to help further your professional and personal development.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nancy permalink
    February 22, 2013 8:27 pm

    Great post. I especially liked point number 3 about why we speak. Something I’m going to give some thought to. Thanks!

    • February 24, 2013 1:47 pm

      Hi Nancy.
      Glad you enjoyed my article. And I agree with you, point number three is an interesting one. The first time I learned about finding out ‘why’ we speak while I was in a meditation class, I was floored. I totally saw for the first time the real meaning behind my words.

      Take care.

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