Organisational Success and Conversations
Every successful organisation translates their strategy into results through its leaders, managers, teams and general employees communicating powerfully and effectively. On average you have between eight and ten thousand conversations every year to increase productivity, work more efficiently and produce better outcomes. About 50% of these conversations are generally ineffectual and require re-work at a massive cost to the organisation. The Communicate for Excellence Workshop will take delegates back to the basics of powerful conversations where shared levels of understanding produce increased productivity translating into better results.
The essence of the work done by leaders and managers, indeed by all organisational personnel, is conversational work. People engage in conversations with each other as they go about their work. Without conversations what they are able to do in their role will be limited. Because of their diverse roles they rely on each other for the accomplishment of tasks, and in order to do this they converse with each other, which may be face-to-face, by telephone, or via e-mail. Conversations provide the opportunity for the exchange of information to occur and shared meaning to be reached.
An organisation is more than simply a network of conversations and commitments. An organisation is a network of relationships between people. Their well-being and quality of job fulfilment, goal achievement, organisational accomplishment, happiness and enjoyment – is bound up within the quality of their relationships which is driven by their conversations. Therefore there is an inextricable link between the quality of relationships, conversations and achieving desired organisational goals.
Leaders and managers are confronted with difficult conversations on a daily basis. Confronting an issue or performance that needs correcting, getting an individual or team to raise their game and produce improved results can be a daunting task. Often the leader or manager has not the skill set or experience to have the “difficult” conversations required to produce the results. Developing the skill and emotional intelligence, the ability to correct without breaking down and to inspire without seeming soft is a balancing act that very few get right.
Done effectively, difficult conversations become catalysts for improving performance, building trust and deepening relationships. This ultimately has a positive impact on the quality of commitments made to each other which in turn drives productivity and increases positive outcomes.
There are two sides of language – listening and speaking. We cannot consider this distinctions in isolation. Whenever there is speaking, there is listening, even if we are only listening to ourselves. The outcome of our speaking and listening is conversation.
It is interesting to note that the word “conversation” is a derivative from the Latin work “Conversare”. Con means with and versare means to turn. Therefore conversation means to turn with or to turn together.
We often refer to two people who are linked and connected in a conversation as “dancing together”. They move as an integrated unit with both being able to express their individuality within this integration. People become lost in the conversation. They move together in a way that allows spontaneity, creating the potential to move to different experiences. They open the doors for themselves to learn. This is the power of conversations. Conversations provide and generate context for learning, being, and the only technology for the medium of change. We live, participate, exist and co-exist in conversations. We shift our experience and our learning when engaged in conversations. And this happens individually as well as collectively (families, organisations, and globally).
Human change is conversational. Deep and sustainable organisational change occurs when organisational personnel converse with each other on a daily basis. When leaders, managers, individuals listen more openly to each other, take responsibility for speech acts, manage their moods, make adjustments to how they hold themselves in their body, the quality of conversations, productivity and relationships can and will shift dramatically.
As conversations change so do relationships, and different possibilities can emerge as to what can be accomplished through groups and relationships.
Will I win or will I lose
When we are faced with a possible confrontation we often become anxious and raise our anxiety levels. As a result we look to see, if we address the problem will the outcome have us winning or losing. This prevents us from achieving a win win situation. Instead of the conversation dealing with the issue at hand we make it personal and confuse the actions and results that are wrong and make the person wrong.
At the heart of all powerful communication is the ability to connect. Can the participant connect effectively with a variety of other people, in a variety of different contexts? We examine the participant’s ability to relate to others and to understand them accurately.
How does the participant approach getting along with others? We explore the participant’s ability to interact with clients, customers and co-workers on a daily basis.
How aware is the participant of their own unique abilities, their limitations and how confident are they with these? We explore their ability to be objective and accurate in this assessment and how strongly they believe in what they see inside themselves.
Enemy or Equal
With high levels of self-awareness the participant is able to move away from seeing the other person as the “enemy” and view them rather as an ally or equal. This sets the context for open conversations. Understanding this creates equality in the relationships. By learning to create a context and define what it means for both people and the organisation to win and seeing that the conversation is not about I win you lose that we can learn to create the outcome we desire.
No effective communication can take place without both parties being able to listen to not only what is being said but also what is not being said. The distinction we make is that real listening is a whole body experience and is a skill that must be learnt and cultivated. The art of listening is a vital component to communicate for excellence.
The Promise Cycle
We live in a sea of promises and commitments and when these are not kept they go directly to the breaking down of trust and relationships. Through an effective model of understanding how to create conversations for effective results, the “promise cycle” gives the participant an easy and efficient tool to use in building commitments, relationships and ultimately results.
The Power of Conversations
Conversation is the basic unit of human interaction, and the means by which we build relationships. It is within conversations that linguistic actions occur. What purposes do conversations serve?
Coordinating actions with others
– linking up and connecting the various efforts of different people
Making sense and generating meaning
– developing interpretations about what is going on; “reading the world”
Inventing the future
– a vision is always contained within, or embedded, in the narrative
– these stem from interpretations
Creating a shared background
– developing a culture of the group and/or organisation
Becoming a possibility for others (seduction)
– possibilities are generated in narratives; we “buy” stories.
Generating trust and positive relationships
We are our actions: we create our identity, both for ourselves and in the eyes of others, through our actions. An integral part of this is our speaking and the types of conversations we engage in.
Any human group, including organisations, are a network of conversations and relationships. Individual performance, organisational productivity, the development of visions and the attainment of business objectives has a lot to do with the quality the conversations between people in the organisation and with customers.
In his work, John Searle claimed that no matter what language we spoke, whether it is English, Indonesian, Japanese or whatever, we all look at the same sorts of action – what he termed “Speech Acts”. These speech acts are universal to human beings’ use of language.
Rafael Echeverria took the idea of speech acts a step further by recognising that these actions did not take place just in the process of speaking, but in all communication. For example, we can ask someone to be quiet by pursing our lips and putting our index finger in front of them. He therefore coined the term “linguistic acts” to refer to the actions we take through our use of language.
He identified FIVE specific linguistic acts:
- Promises (The Promise Cycle)
Breakdowns and Conversations
A “breakdown” is an interruption to the flow of life such that what we expect to happen or the way we are doing things brings an unforeseen result. When such a disruption occurs, conversation can either lead to its effective resolution or to a downward spiral. The more effectively we can design our conversations, the more effectively we deal with our breakdowns.
Types of Conversations
Conversations produce outcomes. A key question is – do our conversations produce the outcomes we desire. The type of the conversation determines what does and doesn’t happen, as well as the quality of what is done. Different types of conversations are applicable for different situations.
- Conversations for stories and personal assessments.
- Conversations for clarity.
- Conversations for coordination of action.
- Speculative conversations or conversations for possible actions.
- Conversations for accomplishment.
- Conversations for appreciation.
- Conversations for possible conversations.
- Conversations for relationship
- Conversations for complaining
Much has been written about “trust”. For good reason, it is a cornerstone of good relationships, but what is “trust”.
We characterise trust on the basis of the linguistic distinction of assessment. The future is unknown and, as such, there is always a risk associated with it. Promises are a commitment to future action, so it follows that there is always risk associated with promises. You will recall that human beings make assessment in the present based on the past to seek to predict the future. We claim “trust” is such an assessment. Indeed, we see “trust” as a coherence of four assessments – sincerity, competence, reliability and involvement – that we make of others in the context of coordinating action with them.
Speaking is never an innocent act. Equipped with the knowledge of the actions of language, we seek to develop powerful interpretations of human beings’ way of being and the identity they create for themselves and others. This knowledge also opens up conversations for learning and brings forth the skill in utilising the linguistic acts to help them redefine their way of being and what is possible for them in the world.
As we claim that we always speak from some concern, listening to the actions involved in our speaking and being able to develop interpretations of concerns behind those actions, provides insights into their way of being. We can then begin to work with a participant to deconstruct old stories that are not serving them well and begin to generate new ones that are of more value.
Putting theory into practice
Who is the workshop aimed at?
This workshop is ideally positioned for HR Managers, HR Specialists, Teams, Managers and Leaders.
What are the workshop outcomes?
- Improved interpersonal communication
- Less miscommunication
- Decreased workplace anxiety and conflict
- Higher levels of efficiency and productivity
- Happier workplace environment
- Stronger teamwork
- Higher levels of coordinated actions
- Higher levels of workplace engagement
Why should I attend the workshop?
The workshop is aimed at giving you a practical understanding of effective communication that will add value to your daily interactions and produce the results you want. It is a mix of theory, discussion and practical illustrations on how to become a powerful communicator.
Effective communication is at the heart of creating peak performing individuals, teams and organisations. A powerful purpose and a culture that actively seeks out opportunities to give effective feedback is vital in building trusting relationships which increase employee and customer satisfaction culminating in a more profitable business.