Start Having Better Conversations Today
Posted in Professional Development
Author: Kristin O’Leary
Have a challenging conversation headed your way? It is possible to improve the result of your conversations. In an already busy schedule, it can be hard to decide to invest your time and energy into creating better conversations. However, strong conversations enable us to better solve problems, build relationships, and create success.
It’s easy for conflict to arise while working through a challenging project together when tensions and timelines intersect. The only way to reach the optimal solution is by communicating well to find the best option. When our communication breaks down, we become more inclined to reach for the easy solution – in some cases, just to move forward. But easy doesn’t mean best. This problem will likely come back to you if it’s not fully resolved.
“In teamwork, silence isn’t golden, it’s deadly.” -Mark Sanborn
Insurance is a relationship-based business. For those of us who have worked in this industry for any time, we know that the connections we form will help all of us to do our jobs better. We need to have trust with one another to provide for our clients and insureds. Breakdowns in communication serve to erode trust, damage relationships that have been years in the making, and block success.
“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” -Henry Ford
So how do we make the shift and commit to better conversations?
Before you begin, it’s imperative to set your intention with that conversation. Your intention will directly impact the result of the conversation. Stop for a moment and think about what you hope to achieve through that conversation – and be honest with yourself. For example, is your intention to prove that you didn’t make a mistake or is to solve the customer problem? Is to prove that you know the answer or is it to educate others and share your knowledge? Your intention will affect the course of your conversation whether consciously or unconsciously.
Each person entering a conversation has their own point of view that they believe to be true. A quote that I love from a recent training course, Crucial Conversations, says,
“You can argue as strongly as you want for your opinion as long as you are equally vigorous in encouraging others to disagree.” (Ron McMillan)
As you communicate your point of view, how are you inviting others to share theirs? The strength of a team lies in the differences of the voices surrounding the table. By truly inviting and listening to other opinions, you can together create a superior solution.
Your past interactions with someone can easily color all future conversations if you let it. Consider how your perception of someone influences how you receive communication from them. If someone who you have had negative interactions with in the past approaches you with feedback, how are you likely to accept it? Now, let’s switch it up. Someone who you feel supports you approaches you with the same feedback; would you accept it in the same spirit? In your next conversation with someone who you have had negative experiences, try stepping out of that perception of them and see how that influences the course of your communication with them. You may just be positively surprised.
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” – Anthony Robbins
So when your phone rings with the next challenging conversation, I encourage you to consider intention, invitation, and perception. Let me know in the comments if it impacts the outcomes of your conversations!