The Art of Real Conversations

Business has always relied on powerful conversations, whether with customers, vendors, colleagues, partners or employees. Business is fundamentally an extended conversation with everyone concerned. Unfortunately many conversations fail.

An excellent book that dives deeply into how to develop your conversation skills is Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott. I know it may seem elementary to read about conversations, especially when many successful business people are often accomplished speakers, but it’s not.

The art of meaningful conversations is full of nuances… and many executives I know could use a refresher course. Here are a few quotes from this book I really appreciated:

  • Conversations are the work of a leader and the workhorses of an organization
  • While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a  career, a company, a relationships or a life, any single conversation can
  • Leaders must have conversations that interrogate reality, provoke learning, tackle tough challenges and enrich relationships

The author provides plenty of examples of what she calls fierce conversations, those that get to the heart of the matter. When you think of a fierce conversation, think:

  • passion
  • integrity
  • authenticity
  • collaboration
  • cultural transformation
  • leadership

What can you do to make your next conversation more real, more meaningful? Does the idea of “more real” seem too scary? Actually it’s the unreal conversations that should scare us to death. You know what I’m talking about…when the words all sound bland and rote, and there’s more being said by what’s not being said.

Unreal conversations are expensive for organizations and for individuals. So think about this the next time you have a conversation. How can you make it more meaningful?

What are the conversations you’ve been unable to unwilling to have? With your boss, colleague, employee, customer, or with your relationships? With yourself? If you were able to get real, what might be a result of that conversation?

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