July 2016

Is Face-to-Face Conversation Dying?

When was the last time you looked up (from your phone) with a real, face-to-face conversation with someone important to you?  No kidding... Technology has trained us to be quick (texting) and to speak in sound bites.  And... how many times has that technique backfired at work when we're misunderstood?

Conversation Revived

Here's two examples with leader client groups, that illustrate what is possible when real conversation happens.

Both groups were experiencing challenges as they were determining long term goals.  We started with a process and exercise that allowed the groups to have meaningful conversation to bring out their best thinking - within structured small group “rounds”.  The process involves an interweaving of ideas & insights captured on paper table cloths – as individuals move between tables to form new groups.

In both organizations, the groups were able to access important big ideas as they surfaced assumptions, and opened new possibilities. 

There were surprises. 

In one case, the conversation uncovered some confusion and misunderstanding of the organizational vision.  In the other group, the process created an opportunity for the executive team to establish alignment as a unified team with a deeper understanding of each others perspectives with new ideas moving forward. 

Here’s the irony.  The ability to have powerful conversations is part of our social DNA, but most of us have forgotten how in our very busy, multi-tasking, Twitter sound-bite, e-mail, bullet-pointed lives.

As Alan Webber, co-founder of Fast Magazine told us several years ago – “Conversations are the way workers discover what they know, share it with their colleagues, and in the process create new knowledge for the organization.  In the new economy, conversations are the most important form of work.”

What kinds of conversations will you begin today?  What questions will you ask?  Resolve to engage in meaningful conversations! 

Conversation Exploration Exercise

    Think about any meaningful and powerful conversation you have experienced.  A conversation where things opened up for you, or you felt a shift in perspective.  Once you have remembered that conversation, let go of the content of the conversation, and think about the conditions that were present to support the conversation.  Did the conditions include trust or curiosity or commitment or openness or other things?  You get the picture. 

    Try creating a significant conversation using powerful questions and active listening with a peer, boss or friend today.  Re-discover the power of conversation...!

    "Creating a positive future begins in human conversation. The simplest and most powerful investment any member of a community or an organization may make in renewal is to begin talking with other people as though the answers mattered."  – William Grieder

    Are you achieving the results you want?
    The best leaders make simple shifts or practical changes for big results.  I work closely with leaders to create practical solutions to achieve real success. Let me help you discover what's possible. Visit my website www.terrihughes.com for details.

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