Thinking Out Loud

The Conversations You Want To Have

Are you having the kind of conversations you want to have around the kitchen table or the staff-meeting table? If not, do something about it. First, do your homework, which begins by looking at yourself. What potential obstacles might you be putting in the way? Do genuine fears hold you back from discussing what you believe is important—what are they? Could you be assuming a negative outcome to a conversation, which might prevent you from starting one in the first place or might project a defensive/negative position that sets a shadow over the discussion from the beginning? Or do you wait for an opening that is not likely to occur?

Next, list topics you’d like to discuss and why. What’s important to you about the topic? What goal do you have in mind? Is it something better addressed with an individual or with the group? Is your concern really about the topic or is it more about wanting to have a closer or more open relationship(s)?

From there, see if you can categorize the topics. Do some have macro issues? Process and procedure issues? Relationship issues? Look for natural groupings that will help you better organize your thinking.

As your thinking gets focused and grounded, find someone you trust and respect to talk it over with: a good listener who will ask good questions and challenge you. This will likely result in a refinement of your thinking and feelings, bringing you closer to direct action.

Repeat this process as many times as you like, if it helps you get clearer about your concerns and goals. Then initiate the conversations you want to have and see where that takes you, which may not be exactly where you intended to go but you may create a new opportunity to learn something of value or open a new doorway.

Tip: Try being direct and say, “I’d like to have more conversations about _____.”

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