Can you think of a great conversation you had with someone? Unfortunately, for most people, they don’t happen every day. But you can boost the frequency of them by practicing these four tips:
- Think of your words as a laser. Practice succinctness. That means a statement like: “You may not think this is important, but I wanted to share something with you.” Turns into this: “I have something important to share with you.” Can you feel which one has more power?
- Be specific AND succinct. In an effort to be succinct, I might say, “That was a great meeting.” However, that really doesn’t convey my true thoughts to my listener. Being specific AND succinct might be, “I appreciate how we bounced ideas off each other in that meeting.”
- Stop dis-empowering yourself and others with: can’t, should, shouldn’t.” Rather than reacting in this common default manner, try asking a good question instead. Ask a question to help you understand and clarify what the other person is suggesting. Start with ‘what’ or ‘how’ to keep a conversation open, rather than shutting it down. “How will that impact _______?” “What options have we come up with so far?”
- Listen differently. Go deeper. Listen for intention, feelings, hidden messages, notice their body language, mood, and any other emotions that you sense are present. Then, check in with what you are hearing by asking: “ Let me see if I understand …” or by sharing what you notice, “I sense there’s something we’re not saying…”; “I felt the mood get a little lighter when …”
Pick one of the tips above to put into practice this week. Declare a goal for yourself to intentionally practice the skill in one meeting each day or in one conversation a day with a direct report. Notice the difference in the quality of your conversations and in your connection with the others involved.