‘Conversation’ is the current buzzword for engagement and communication. This applies to everyone we converse with, internally and externally. But what does it actually mean?
In the world of social media we tell people, without a hint of irony, not to broadcast, and we trot out the mantra that consultation must be meaningful, but do we practise what we preach? How many of us have sat in meetings working out whether or not we’ve said our fair share, as one by one each participant interrupts the other?
The most important element of conversation is listening, but many of us struggle with this. Here’s 10 rough and ready tips.
1 Have the confidence to say nothing. In a discussion where the battle for attention is at its most intense, try staying silent for 15 minutes. You’re likely to learn more about the subject, and more importantly your colleagues, by just listening and keeping schtum.
2 Keep count of how many times people interrupt before someone else has finished, and who does it most. The answers are usually very illuminating.
3 Speak only when you’ve got something to say. Substance should always trump noise. And meetings would be shorter.
4 if you’re going to consult about something, be genuinely prepared to listen to what people have to say and do something with what you’re told. If you’ve already made up your mind, don’t bother.
5 Don’t dress up communication as consultation – you will get found out.
6 if you don’t believe your organisation is a listening organisation, then say so.
7 If nobody is interacting with you on social media, it’s probably your fault. If they’re not listening to you, then they won’t talk to you, so change the way you engage.
8 Being told you might be wrong, and why, is 100 times more valuable than being told you’re right. Difference of opinion adds value, affirmation maintains the status quo.
9 Broadcasting on social media platforms has its place, but should be limited. Conversation is key. If someone walked into a pub shouting their views without waiting for a response, you’d think they’d lost it. So why are you any different?
10 Listening is a skill, but it shouldn’t be. It’s just good manners.
I’m aware of the paradox of this blog, so all views are welcome!