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Conversation: a powerful and underestimated tool for change

Do we know how to consciously use conversations to facilitate collaboration?

We use it every day. It is at the heart of any change. Yet, do we really know how to use it? I'm talking about a conversation. It is one thing to share words, ideas and opinions. It is another to know how to converse effectively to build trust, drive innovation and accelerate problem resolution.

It is through conversation that we learn to trust and discover new perspectives. The reverse is also true. Conversations that do not end well tend to foster distrust, hardening of one’s position, and lack of communication. This usually comes at a high cost: problems drag on, opportunities are missed, work environments become unhealthy, and efforts are misdirected toward protecting oneself.

Three conditions to allow conversations to help sustain change and transformations

Change leaders understand that open and sustained conversations with their employees, colleagues, partners and supervisors lead to successful transformations. They understand that three conditions must be met for these conversations to transform into opportunities for progress:

  1. Create a safe environment.  They create the conditions for everyone to feel safe to express their ideas, suggestions, objections and concerns.
  2. Go into listening mode. They sincerely try to understand the opinions of others. This implies that they first stop talking and trying to convince.
  3. Explore new solutions. They open their mind to new possibilities and solutions that will be mutually satisfactory.

On a scale of 1 to 10, the score of 10 describing a champion of effective conversation, how do you rate yourself on your ability to hold meaningful conversations and collaborative dialogues? What can you improve to get to the next level?

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