Talking your way to underperformance

You sense that the other person is about to finish talking. You see a break, and off you go. Your mouth opens and out comes the words you have been itching to say.

How good are you at noticing what you say in meetings? Any conversation really? How well do you rate as a listener?

Do you find yourself waiting your turn to say something you are passionately attached to. Something you have been dying to say for some time? Do you experience an anxious energy which threatens to spill over?

How much of the previous person’s contribution did you actually hear? And were you listening to and reflecting on what they were saying? Did you ask a question to explore and develop new meaning from their ideas? What was created in the exchange?

Or were you, in super-quick fashion, simply categorising the seeming relevance of their contribution without any integration with, or shaping of what you said next? Were you just listening for the gap you are now filling? For your turn?

How creative are the conversations you take part in? What skills are in play? Listening skills, advocacy skills, inquiry skills, self-awareness skills, and more? How are these purposefully developed?

You can reshape strategy. You can redesign your processes. You can play with structures. And you can spend money on tools and apps. These are all good things, and used well, will help your organisation survive and thrive.

At the end of the day however these are all just things that are brought into being as a result of conversations and decisions.

What would it be like where you work if people become more skilled at having great conversations? Can you imagine what that might do for a whole range of issues? Innovation, agility, costs, competitive edge, resilience, engagement etc?

It seems an obvious area to invest in. Not many organisations do. Too busy talking at each other? Too busy talking their way to underperformance.

Dave Stewart

The Fresh Air Learning Company