The ability to hold quality conversations is an attribute which can help us achieve greater success. Improving our conversation skills enables us to build and sustain positive relationships. And within those relationships, trust is important.
I have a simple formula which participants practise in the workshops. They then ‘transfer’ the learning to the real world.
Let’s go through this step by step.
- We listen, really listen to the person speaking. This in itself is a challenge to many of us. Often, instead of concentrating on listening, our minds are racing ahead, thinking of our own example and wanting to voice our opinions.
- We comment on what the person has just said. This confirms that we were listening.
- We then ask an ‘open’ question.
In practising, both parties follow this format and the quality of conversations improves enormously.
The ability to tell short, relevant stories in context brings our message to life. So, where appropriate we introduce stories or other ‘word pictures’.
In ‘integral coaching’ we begin by building a ‘conversation for relationship’. This grounding is important and needs to be firmly established before we follow with ‘conversation for possibility’. How can we effectively explore possibilities without having built the relationship? The next stage is ‘conversation for action’ and this will never be as effective if the relationship has not been firmly established and possibilities properly explored.
I have found that often, even in business, people are surprised that where they believed that the other person had agreed on action, there was no ‘follow through’. On exploring further, we sometimes found that the person had jumped too fast to the action stage and had left the other person behind! So, backtracking to ‘conversation for relationship’ and ‘conversation for possibility’ helped form the foundation for an effective ‘conversation for action’.
Benefits of building positive relationships
There are many benefits of functioning within positive relationships. These include recognising and optimising opportunities. We all prefer to deal and do business with people we know and trust.
In addition, when things go wrong, where we trust people, we’ll usually give them the ‘benefit of the doubt’. In the case of the late delivery of good, our thoughts may be ‘he is such a reliable guy, his supplier must have let him down’. There will be an ‘absence of malice’. And we’ll work together will him to meet the challenge. This will build an even stronger base on which to continue developing the relationship.
Conversely, if we are dealing with some-one we don’t know and where trust has not been built up, our attitude in the same situation may be: ‘this guy is unreliable. I don’t like dealing with people who let me down. I’m not going to give him a second chance.’
Positive relationships help us to become the organisation of choice, the team of choice or the person of choice. Build and sustain positive relationships and you will benefit.
In ‘ABCs of Effective Networking: 52 ways to achieve success’ (ISBN 978-06204 1625 -2) on page 80 and 81 I cover more on relationships and the action we can take to improve relationships in all aspects of our lives. This is also addressed in ‘Networking tactics: a guide to achieving success through personal networking’ (ISBN. 978 – 06204 1624 – 5).
For more information on conversation skills, improving networking skills, building stronger networks or on ‘executive coaching’ please contact me email@example.com, Phone: +27 33 3425432, Mobile: + 27 82 4993311.
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