How To Have Better Conversations
Yesterday we looked at the benefits of having better conversations.
Sounds great. But how do we do that? How can we flip a negative conversation into a Conversation Worth Having?
The Appreciative Inquiry model provides us with a simple but powerful model: focus on adding value (appreciative) and asking questions (inquiry).
Does this mean we can’t deliver critical feedback? Of course not. If we aren’t meeting our numbers, we need to talk about it.
The key is not to leave the conversation there. Cutting criticism and focusing on people’s faults deplete rather than unleash energy.
We elevate the conversation by asking questions and focusing on the desired outcome: what is it that we want?
In their book Conversations Worth Having, authors Jacqueline Stavros and Cheri Torres tell us to “flip” the conversation, (1) start by naming the problem, complaint, or negative result. Next, (2) flip it: What is the positive opposite? Then, (3) frame it: what is the positive impact and / or desired results of the flip?
Dr. Daniel Friedland provides a slightly more enhanced framework we can use.
o Discover PURPOSE: What outcomes matters most and why?
o Discover the best of PAST: What’s been most successful in the past?
o Discover the best of PRESENT: What are our current strengths?
o Dream of the best FUTURE: What is our vision for success?
o Design STRATEGIC initiatives: What strategies will best enable our success?
o Deploy ACTION steps: What will we implement to achieve our results?
As leaders, why does all this matter? Of all the things to focus on, why this?
Because positive or negative workplace culture is created one conversation at a time.
Culture change can feel large, dense, overwhelming. It doesn’t have it to be.
Our conversations are a building block to creating the organization we want to create. Focusing on improving the quality of our conversations is a true leverage point.
And, it’s pragmatic and relatively easy to do.
Reflection: Think back on a time in my life when I had a conversation worth having. What was it about? What were the circumstances?
Action: Look for an opportunity to use some of the questions from the Conversations Worth Having framework.