If posts had ratings this one would be at least “PG 13”. It’s pretty blunt; possibly too blunt for many. No holds barred.
Feel free to be annoyed, indignant, or even judged. It’s our opinion there is a lack of personal responsibility when it comes to ineffective relationships in the workplace. Your company will thrive, irrespective of size or sector, if you simply stop doing the three things outlined below; and you’d need a lot less consultants, too.
In my line of work I have had the privilege of working with and developing leaders in the critical realm of life called conversation. What truly important thing in life does not depend on a conversation? Marriage, divorce, bullying, sales, management, war, sex, politics, money… from hostage negotiations to family disputes to corporate meetings to networking mixers, it doesn’t matter, the quality of your conversation dictates your outcomes. And, we have discovered that you and other leaders fail to get what you want in conversations that really matter in three key ways; in other words, you suck at important conversation in three key ways.
1. You suck because you want them to get you first
You enter almost every conversation with an interest in the other person first understanding who you are, what you want, and why you want it. They enter the conversation the same way. It’s not rocket science, when two people are busy trying to be “gotten” by the other – who’s left to do the getting – no one. And, if you are interested in them, your interest in them will generally extend only as far as what they have to say remains “useful” or “relevant” to your own needs. In other words, your interest is conditional, fickle, and self-centered. Don’t take my word for it, just look at the last important conversation you had. How long did you stay interested? Notice your interest disappeared the moment they said the wrong thing.
2. You suck because you filter what they say
When people say things to you, you assess and evaluate what they have to say. In other words, you have a conversation (with yourself) about what they are saying to you. Soon you are no longer listening to them but, rather, your own running commentary about what they are saying. The words that then come out of your mouth are related to your inner dialogue and not to what they are actually saying. They get frustrated by not being heard and you are left perplexed by their increasingly “irrational” behavior. Ironically, you blame them, in the end, for not listening.
3. You suck because you pretend, and you pretend that you don’t pretend
You spend most important conversations pretending. And when called on it (if anyone has the courage to do that with you) you conceal that you are pretending. In other words the games you play with other people includes pretending that you are interested, or agreeable, when in reality you have little to no commitment to what they are saying. And if you are feeling especially cowardly you pretend that you are amused when you aren’t.
If you can hear what this article just communicated – good for you! Seriously, it takes courage and a real willingness to own everything I just said. And if you can’t hear or surrender to these blunt and audacious assertion…well…no problem: you’re either an alien or didn’t read number three carefully enough.
Vik Maraj, Co-founder and Partner – Unstoppable Conversations