Each of us has a default mode when it comes to the conversation types; a way of operating in which we feel more comfortable and a way of operating in which we feel less comfortable (and for which we have less patience). Consider whether you have a gravitational pull toward or away from any particular type of conversation.
For instance, if you are most comfortable in a Conversation for Relationship, this often means you might avoid or delay moving to decision-making, assigning action items, ironing out execution details, and otherwise doing the things necessary to effectively coordinate action. The effect can be that by playing it safe and staying in Conversation for Relationship longer than necessary, you end up diminishing the positive impact you can have.
Alternatively, if you jump right into Conversations for Action, you may alienate others and diminish your ability to create consensus and bring people along with your thinking. While a bias for action is a trait often lauded, you want to be attuned to those situations where moving too quickly to action may leave you without the collaborators and engagement you need to bring out the best ideas and achieve superior results.
- Conversational mismatches are like flying into a headwind.
One key to mastery in running meetings, overseeing large projects, and managing teams is recognizing and managing the very human need to address each of these aspects of getting things done with others: Relationship, possibility, and action.* The next topic will provide a framework for how you can do just that. As a basis for working with that framework, make sure you spend enough time this week understanding your own default conversation type. Awareness of your own tendencies, as well as the ability to observe the different conversation types your collaborators are engaged in, can set you up to coordinate and steer action productively.
*For some of you, addressing each of these needs is very natural and you may already be elegantly and effortlessly transitioning between conversational types as part of how you unconsciously do things. For others, particularly where you have been serving in an individual contributor role for several years, this lesson’s learnings may represent more of a behavioral shift and learning curve.