A Great Team Starts with Great Conversation


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You can have a bunch of smart people surrounded by a great product or service and still fail if the conversation flounders. Seldom is it a smooth road along most paths and the path is often filled with tension, conflict, and even positive things can result in misunderstandings. Craig Weber wrote a book this past year, Conversational Capacity: The Secret to Building Successful Teams That Perform When the Pressure Is On.

Below is an excerpt from the transcript and podcast that you can find here: Having Successful Conversations 

Joe: How do we build Conversational Capacity? I mean are there steps; is there a way that we can get better at this?

Craig: Yes, that’s the good news. The bad news is conversational capacity is really hard to build because, in some times, our own human nature works against it. As I mentioned, we’re in the sweet spot of having those balance conversations when we fly off center to one pole or the other, what tends to trigger is the issue so is it conflicting perspective, a different point of view. Someone says something in a way that’s kind of catches me wrong and suddenly I react and when we’re triggered what’s been triggered internally is that the fight-flight response. The low conversational capacity is usually the manifestation of the fight-flight response playing out in the conversation. If I flee the discussion, I’m shutting down, I’m leaving the conversation early, I’m pretending to agree when I don’t and when my fight response gets triggered I can get loud, I can get argumentative, I can be dismissive, I can call people names, I can be extremely aggressive in the discussion.

That is not an easy tendency to get rid of, in fact, you can’t, it’s hard wired in our human nature. What you need to do is develop the ability to start recognizing a little more clearly when one of those two tendencies might be pulling you off your conversational game and in developing the capacity to manage those reactions in a more disciplined way to stay in the sweet spot balancing candor and curiosity when a tremendous amount of emotional energy maybe trying to pull you off center, and that takes a lot of work.

Joe: Should we attempt to do this in all our dialogue? Should we always try to be in the sweet spot?

Craig: That’s a great question actually. No, I think there are a lot of situations where it’s not that critical for instance casual conversation. We don’t need to spend a lot of time focusing on a more structured disciplined approach to a casual discussion and if there is a fire in the building we don’t need to worry about it either. Someone barking orders, taking control, and you know, even screaming out loud to get people moving out of the building, so that, you get out safely. That’s appropriate. I think where we need to focus on the conversational capacity, a lot of those issues where it’s really difficult to put on the table because it’s strongly different points of view. There is conflicting perspective. There are some serious mistakes. It’s important. When it’s difficult and important, that is where we would need to slow down and maybe take a more structured approach to how we craft our dialogue.

How are you helping your organization to have better conversations? 

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Mind map on Crucial Conversations

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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