Over the course of my career I’ve leaned that communication is the key to building meaningful relationships. When I look back at the defining moments in my life, whether it be pitching a potential new client, exploring an opportunity for partnership, or having a difficult discussion with an employee when things are just not working out, there were critical conversations that have dictated my success and the quality of relationships I have been able to create.
There’s a video from the 90’s about a man who avoids communicating with others because he’s having a bad day. He internalizes his frustrations until he’s given a pair of glasses and is able to see the pain points of those around him. Towards the end of the video, his frustration transforms into compassion, and he is able to open a dialogue to start a conversation. This video has always stuck with me because it emphasizes a simple yet profound point: you never know what someone may be going through, and the only way to make a connection is through communication.
I adopted a strategy from the book Crucial Conversations – Tools for talking when the stakes are high. The model outlines a process that, from my experience, sets you up for a more successful outcome when having a critical conversation. According to the authors, there are seven steps to holding crucial conversations in a positive space when surrounded by highly charged emotions:
Stay in dialogue
Make it safe
Don’t get hooked by emotion
Agree a mutual purpose
Separate facts from story
Agree to a clear action plan
The first step is for me, the most important. I’ve learned that how I discuss something can impact what I am trying to discuss, so by managing my mindset, being open to the outcome and starting with positive intent, the conversation starts and ends with respect and efficiency.
By following the method of working with people rather than through people, and not letting necessary conversations go by, even when difficult, I’ve found that I’m able to ensure there is clarity around responsibility, expectations are defined and standards are maintained. The conversations are deeper and more honest, and thus a new type of bond is formed that helps transform personal situations and relationships.
Effective communication and critical conversations are not only key to a successful business, but also a skill a necessary skill for a truly fulfilling life. What methods of communication have you found to be effective and impactful? Share your thoughts with @GetInRhythm or on the InRhythmU blog.
Thanks and Keep Growing,
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