It can be hard to pluck up the courage to kick off a difficult conversation at work. Here’s why it’s important to start conversations that matter.
Conversations in the workplace deeply impact the relationships we have with others. Every conversation is an opportunity to inspire, motivate, challenge and support others. A simple word in the ear of a colleague, with the right timing, can be the thing that gets that person through the day. We should be trying to start conversations that matter. A short conversation, such as asking “are you ok?”, can save a life.
Knowing how to have the right words at the right time can provide great comfort and reassurance to people when times are tough. To start, they are the basis for creating a healthy family interactions and a loving relationship with our partners. Conversations can get us a job and earn us an education. When you think about it, conversations can create – or stop – war. However, the art of mastering good conversation is underutilised in the fast-paced digital age. Perhaps it’s high time we all learnt how to improve our skills as a conversationalist. Who knows, these skills may be the very thing you need to overcome the next issue you face at work.
Why have a meaningful conversation?
Feeling awkward about something, or toward someone, is usually an indicator that you would benefit from a meaningful conversation with them. Even if you feel nervous, or don’t know quite what you might say – you can’t let that stop you. My advice is let them know you are feeling nervous because of x, y or z and have the conversation anyway!
A big tip for having a successful conversation is to get to the point of what you want to discuss quickly. Sure, part of making the connection is rapport-building, but it’s also about being 100 per cent clear on why it is you wanted to have the conversation in the first place. That way you can walk away with confidence that your message was received with clarity.
Professional conversationalists are often called coaches. A good coach is able to expertly guide a conversation; firstly by bringing a listening ear, asking helpful, probing questions and most importantly, creating an environment of safety and non-judgement. Most coaches are great conversationalists and will help you to consider something in your life from an angle that you had never considered before. If you want someone to shift your thinking about something, it is well worth having a conversation with a coach.
At my organisation, my position is “Chief Conversationalist”. This is because our vision is to inspire individuals and organisations to “Be More Human” in how they approach their mission statement and their people. We figured that the best way to do this was to bring together a team of people who are exceptional at conversations.
You will never know exactly where a conversation is going to go – but that’s the beauty of them! The best thing to do is to plan them, map them and use a framework, but at the end of the day going with the flow is what will get you to your most valuable insights and most rewarding outcomes.
Conversations can bring about unity, change organisations and dramatically shift work cultures. Why not learn to do them well?
This article first appeared at Being More Human.