What happens when you have better conversations? Better relationships. And better culture. Attributed to the work of Judith Glaser in “Conversational Intelligence”, participants in our Wednesday Corporate Workshop series explored increasing their conversational intelligence.
How to increase conversational IQ? Develop co-created conversations.
Co-created conversations are conversations where all parties are giving ideas but no one is tied to one specifically. It is a smooth mix of pushing information and pulling information. Primarily, it is a conversation that is founded in trust and is for the greater good or bigger picture. It’s not about one person, it’s about the whole.
Here are some basic building blocks:
1. Act with Intention Before conversations, take responsibility for your role in the conversation. First think about what you really want out of your relationship with this person. If you could have the best relationship possible with this person, what would it look like? What will most help create that?
Decide what kind of conversation you wish to have. Will this be informative? Mutually respectful? Angry? You get to decide how you will or won’t contribute to that type of conversation.
Name an intention to yourself of how you will be in the conversation. Try to think of an adjective or group of words that captures it. For example, “compassionate and bold.”
2. Build Safety Go to the “We.” What is this conversation really about? A safe space is one of respect for each other. It is a place of acceptance of who they are as a person, as a family member, as a team member or as a friend.
Creating safety begins with you. Remind yourself of the bigger reason why you are having this conversation. Is it to have an effective and productive relationship? Is it to align with the mission of the company?
Then get curious. Be wide-eyed like a small child. Hold no judgment. For example, you might ask, “Help me understand what makes this so important to you?” Use statements like “It sounds like that is hard for you.” Or “Wow, this really is important to you.” You don’t have to agree with the person and yet it is powerful for you to show that you want to understand how it is for them. And then begin the conversation with what you have in common and where you align. How can you be transparent with each other?
3. Clarify Intentions If the conversation begins to derail or jump to a different track – stop and regroup. Check in with the other person or people. Ask questions. For example, “It seems like you are thinking about something. What are you thinking about right now?” Then clarify your intention. State what you want. You might say, “I am excited about being part of this organization AND I want to have the best working relationship possible with you.” Or “I didn’t mean to come across aggressively. I’m just really passionate about this topic.”
What I see most in clients who are angry with someone is that they misunderstood where the other person was coming from. In their mind, they will repeat over and over what someone said or what they thought someone said or did that hurt them. The best thing you can do is to gain insight about their thought process and clarify as you go.