Previously I’ve found myself using too much airtime during conversations. I often felt trapped in broadcast mode and would just keep going.
Now I use some simple techniques that make conversations more inclusive.
The experience is far better. The level of creative collaboration has skyrocketed.
Too many conversations are like ping-pong. One person talks, then the other.
Business meetings are examples of this. There’s only surface level inquiry. People either speaking, or waiting to speak. And scoring points while the conversation goes in circles. You’ve been there, right?
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Here’s what I’ve done to craft better conversations:
Step 1: Be aware of conversation dynamics
Lots of things happen in conversations without us noticing. I started a checklist for my client meetings:
- My explaining something.
- My asking a question.
- Client explaining something.
- Client asking a question.
A quick win for me was noticing I talked too much when clients asked me a series of questions. That gave me a useful insight.
Step 2: Design mini-scripts to redirect conversations
Finding the words to shift conversations in the moment isn’t always easy. But you can design mini-scripts in advance.
For example I crafted a mini-script for when I am asked multiple questions in succession. To turn things around I’ll now say something like …
“Great question! May I ask what’s your reaction to what I’ve said so far?”
“You’ve asked me a few questions about this topic. May I ask what’s the big question behind your questions?”
Step 3: Reflect on performance and plan your improvements
After a conversation sit down and reflect. What happened? Did you behave the way you wanted to?
Then envision the same conversation with any improvements you’d like to make.
Follow these three steps, especially the mental rehearsal in step 3.
Applied well they will shift your conversation performance to the next level.