What's So Hard About Real Conversations?

What does it mean to “come out from behind ourselves to have real conversations”? (Susan Scott, Fierce Conversations, 2004) What’s so hard about that?

If you’re a leader, your job is to accomplish the goals of the organization. You do that in large part by making every conversation you have as real as possible.  A leader’s job is essentially to engineer the types of conversations that produce clarity, cooperation, creativity, drive, and a connection to values beyond the company.

Your conversations may have to come up with a big new idea, or transform your company into a better place to work, or maybe figure out how to improve customer-renewal rates. You may use conversations to enhance collaboration, or provide leadership development, or deliver performance review feedback.

Success as a leader depends on the success of your conversations, and occurs one conversation at a time. Here are four components of successful conversations, according to Susan Scott, author of Fierce Conversations:

In order to execute initiative and deliver goals, leaders must have conversations that:

  1. Interrogate reality
  2. Provoke learning
  3. Tackle tough challenges
  4. Enrich relationships

Each of these four components are tough assignments for any one conversation to achieve.  To help put this into perspective, the next time you have a conversation, ask yourself which, if any, of these goals you think was approached, even minimally.

  • Did I ask about the other person’s perspective?
  • Did I try to understand the person, situation, or issue better?
  • Did I try to get to the real issue, and the nuances behind the challenges?
  • Did I enhance our relationship, deepen our connection?
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