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 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, you end up diminishing the positive impact you can have (see Week 2 for a review of how we hide).
Alternatively, if you jump 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 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.
Pro tip: a great tool for bringing people back on track toward impact and contribution is to take note of the kinds of conversation taking place in a given interaction. Are parts of the group engaging in one type of conversation while other parts are immersed in another? Be attuned to when you need to make a move to get the room, email chain, or virtual team re-aligned to the same type of conversation. For those of you that have been told you need to work on speaking or presenting at the right “altitude,” consider whether conversation type plays any role in that feedback.
- Conversational mismatches are like flying into a headwind. Backwards.
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: relationship, possibility, and action.* Understanding and working with conversation types is a way to accomplish that.
*For some of you, addressing each of these needs is very natural and you may already be elegantly transitioning between conversational types. For others, particularly where you have been serving in an individual contributor role for several years, this may represent more of a behavioral shift and learning curve.