Is it any wonder that we as human beings get things done through conversation with each other!? Conversations are where everything happens - how much more difficult are conversations now with so much technology in the way? People who have great conversations have the ability to get great results, build up their people and be very effective! So, all of us leading people need to develop our capacities to have conversations that build trust, reflect who we are, what we believe, what we feel and what we need to get done, in a way that supports our relationship with that person.
The other side of this is that conversations that create a lack of trust or distrust have the opposite effect. They create fear of being hurt (metaphorically) and trigger protective reactions in people - fight, flight, freeze or appease. When people are being protective of themselves, they have no ability to be effective at work, especially when they need their thinking-self.
Conversations rely on language. Our language (the words we choose to use) is powerful and requires that we put thought into what we say - every time we speak. Have you ever heard a conversation between a “grumpy” adult and a small child trying something out for the first time. Some of the language is damaging. I’ve heard things like, “stop it, you can’t do that”, meaning that the adult believes the child is incapable of doing the very thing they are attempting to do and learn from - and the child knows it. Imagine if you were at work and someone was trying to do something in a novel way, to learn and be more effective and their manager says, “no, that’s wrong, this is the way we do it here”! Our words have power - a lot of power.
Imagine also, the map, or movie that the words we use create for us and, help us explain what we are seeing, thinking and feeling. Imagine too that someone else is looking at the same event or thinking about the same eventuality and using different words that create a slightly different map, one that you may not immediately grasp! How do you get on the same page? You do it through curiosity and conversation! And in this case an open exploratory conversation to understand each other’s maps and select language and words that co-create a map that has meaning to both of you, that you both agree is accurate. This is the power of conversation to bring people together.
Conversations are where it all happens. They can be positive and bring people closer. They can be harmful and push people away. The difference is in the delivery, the choice of words, and how you are being at the time - arms crossed, scowling or open, bright, smiling, empathetic - you get it! Remember that creating a fear of harm triggers a protective response. The protective response overrides any ability and will to think at higher levels - it has to, it’s life or death right!?
Now, as a manager, who has to communicate all day long, in conversation, to share vision, discuss performance, arrive at solutions, give direction, coach and support team members and so on, what words do you use? How do your conversation skills help? How are you being and are you able to develop trust in your conversations and avoid triggering a protective response!? Think of your past performance reviews - how comfortable were you? Were you in protective mode? How was your ability to think deeply and creatively then? Really think about it. Work on it. Conversation is the place where you can make all the difference you need to have awesome relationships and fantastic results!