Conversations. We all have zillions of them –with friends, colleagues, people in shops – sometimes even with ourselves. And with the right thinking behind them, some have a huge impact.
Imagine if we could all have more of those high value conversations. How productive would we be?
To get there, we need to discover what makes those conversations high value compared to the everyday. Here are some examples from our fabulous clients:
- The Chief Executive of a newly acquired business is finding that the Chief Operating Officer of the new parent company is dealing with many of his staff in such a way as many of them want to leave. Part of the value that the parent company bought was the experienced people – in particular the ones who wanted to leave.
In this instance what made it a high value conversation was the Chief Exec giving the COO some feedback on what impact he was having. It is a thing many of us shy away from and he did it beautifully, recognising the positive strengths the COO has -but pointing out that sometimes he has an impact that is opposite to what he seems to intend. The COO was then curious and the two had a conversation which galvanised the relationship. The high value that this conversation added was that all sorts of things are now sayable that weren’t previously.
- One of the Directors of a business knows the business inside out. His role is business development and the company now need to diversify where new business comes from. The CEO told us –“I am not confident he is doing the right things to help us diversify. All his business development is in our current field.”
The high value conversation was then – “How Are you finding the business development role? Given that we talked about the importance of diversifying where our new business comes from, what percentage of it are you aiming to get from current sources and what percentage from new sources? You are great at developing business in our current sectors. What help do you need with the new sectors?”
- A head of OD had been dissatisfied for some time with how one of her team was performing. Normally she is very direct but in this case has been hesitant. What is making her hesitate is that the team member does things the Head of OD isn’t so good at, such as developing clear processes. But following our conversation and on reflection, that didn’t merit the salary level this person was on. What she then did was have a conversation where she recognised the value the individual brought, but also made it very clear what she was still expecting and not getting.
So you can see that the things that shift conversations into a higher gear are:
- Noticing the pattern in the relationship or in performance and talking about the pattern.
- Moving towards the sore. Don’t dance around it or have a conversation about having a conversation. Gently move towards the bit that no one wants to talk about. If you do it with good intention, genuine curiosity about the other persons view and a preparedness to say what is really going on for you, without making assumptions about who is to blame it is amazing how breakthroughs happen
- Talk about the here and now rather than the out there or the there and then. E.g. “It’s been a bit tense between us lately” or “I am feeling apprehensive about saying the wrong thing and upsetting you”
- Notice what you are thinking but not saying. For example, if you were telling your friend about it in the pub what would you say? Or if you could have your fantasy conversation with the person you are finding “difficult” what would you want to say to them. Now find a way to say that without pussyfooting around or being confrontational.
- Come out from behind yourself. Dare to interrogate reality. You might find out that they are not happy with something you are doing. Well at least you will know. You not knowing doesn’t make them any happier with what you are doing.
There are so many conversations that could be better. Here at Levati we can help you to improve your approach and help you to take your high value conversations up a gear.
Get in touch today to find out how we can help.
The Levati Team.