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A fair amount of our work time is spent interacting with other people – in project meetings, casual conversations, when offering feedback. While many of these contacts go smoothly, some are unproductive and unpleasant. How can both parties make conversations better?
Consider where your focus is. As important as the content of the conversation – what is being talked about – is each party’s intent – what each of us wants to learn or achieve. Beyond that, we often omit from our consideration who both of us are in relation to the conversation, what each party finds important, and how both of us like to be seen. The feel and success of our conversations also depends on how we relate to the other party: What and how we say has implications for how our relationship may evolve into the future. When we are not mindful of one of more of these dimensions, conversations can go sour.
As you prepare for your next interaction with your boss, colleague, offspring or neighbour, ask yourself these questions:
We all make better decisions and act more creatively when we are calm and present, so the first step is allowing ourselves to attend fully to our conversation partner. By being curios, listening to understand, and dialoguing about what matters to both of us, we can create space for a respectful, constructive interaction guided by a common purpose.
If your conversations still fail to produce the results you like, could it be that your counterpart is clearer on their intention, identity, and how they envision your relationship than you are? Leading creatively and with clarity empowers you to produce results that truly matter.