I have a passion as a mentor….to restore the art of conversation. Great conversation connects people. Two connected people can create amazing opportunities. They move organizations forward. They provide comfort, challenge, and accountability. Coaching is a conversation at its essence. What comprises a great conversation? Here are five components of a great conversation:
Clarity. Why are we having this conversation? What “roles” are we fulfilling in the conversation? Is this strictly social peer-to-peer, or are do we have an intentional desired outcome? Am I coaching you, or are you coaching me? Is the purpose today just to begin a relationship? If you are serving as a leader in a conversation, it is your responsibility to establish a clear goal for the conversation. If you bring the agenda, gaining the permission from your partner is critical. Otherwise, you are not having a conversation, it is a monologue, and it is likely no one is listening to you!!
Listening. As humans, have a basic self-centered propensity. We must learn to truly set our own thoughts and feelings aside and be fully present and curious. Curiosity is your greatest friend. Coming to a conversation with great questions prepares you to listen, seeking to understand the other person. True empathetic, caring listening is a high expression of respect. It will increase your influence and quickly deepen a relationship. It is the primary tool of a great conversation.
Candor. Speaking honestly and openly from the heart is another essential ingredient for a great conversation. Do people feel that you are “real” when they are with you? Are you willing to take the risk and show yourself to others? Again, if you are the leader, you will the one who will go first in taking the risk to be fully honest.
Kindness. Though expression of your true thoughts and feelings is important, it is just as important to be kind and considerate in the dispensing of your opinions and thoughts. If you become overly emotional, you can build a wall and shut down the communication. Giving out little bits and observing how the other person is responding is an expression of kindness and patience.
Closure. If the purpose of the conversation was to come to agreement or to move ahead in a project or endeavor, a great communication always ends with agreement and commitment around the understanding. Again, as a leader you serve others by making sure that you are both fully on the same page.
Go sit with someone today, or take a walk together, and lead a great conversation. It is amazing what we can create when we connect with each other!